Bill Schonely, legendary Trail Blazers broadcaster who coined ‘Rip City,’ dies at 93

Bill Schonely, the Trail Blazers’ authentic radio broadcaster who coined the enduring phrase “Rip City” that turned synonymous with Portland and its basketball workforce, has died. He was 93.

A reason for dying was not instantly identified.

With his deep voice and memorable catchphrases like bingo-bango-bongo, and lickety-brindle-up-the-middle, Schonely broadcast video games for the primary 28 seasons of the Blazers, together with a two-year stint from 1992-94 because the workforce’s tv play-by-play man.

During a sport within the workforce’s inaugural season, in February 1971, Schonely blurted “Rip City, all proper!” after Jim Barnett made an extended shot throughout a comeback towards the Los Angeles Lakers at Memorial Coliseum. Writers and statisticians regarded at him in wonderment, however ultimately informed him “Leave it in.”

By the time Portland roared to the 1977 NBA championship, “Rip City” may very well be seen on T-shirts, footwear and even coloring books.

Since 2009, the workforce has used the phrase on considered one of its uniform choices, with “rip metropolis” in lowercase letters changing Blazers on the entrance of the jerseys. Its debut marked the primary time the uniform had mentioned something aside from Portland or Blazers.

Schonely acquired the phrase from his days of calling baseball in Seattle, the place gamers would consult with line drives as “rips.”

“That evening, I acquired caught up within the pleasure and it simply got here out of my mouth; it wasn’t one thing that was deliberate,” Schonely mentioned in 2009.

“It took a short time for that phrase to catch on,” Schonely mentioned of “Rip City” in April 2022 because the workforce honored him at halftime of its season finale towards the Utah Jazz. “I had no concept that every one of this was going to occur, but it surely did and wherever you go… it is humbling to me, but it surely’s ‘Rip City.'”

The endurance of “Rip City” spoke to the recognition of Schonely, who yearly traveled the state selling the workforce to radio associates and followers. He went to Astoria, Klamath Falls, Pendleton and in all places in between. Even when gamers accompanied him, they mentioned he was usually the larger draw.

Team founder Harry Glickman as soon as known as him “probably the most recognizable guys in Oregon,” and lengthy after Schonely stopped calling video games in 1998, he remained probably the most in style and lasting personalities in Blazers historical past. For two seasons he did sideline reporting and options for the tv broadcast, and from 2003 till April 2022 he remained with the workforce as an envoy.

After his broadcasting profession, he was a fixture at dwelling video games. Before video games, he mingled with followers at “Schonely’s Place,” a bar named after him within the enviornment concourse. As tipoff neared, he habitually shook the hand of the top coach as an excellent luck gesture. And on a number of events, he carried out his rendition of “God Bless America,” urging followers to sing alongside.

Bill Schonely in an undated photograph.Oregonian file photograph

In 2012, he was acknowledged by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the Curt Gowdy Media Award, which acknowledges these who have made a big contribution to basketball. His 28 years calling video games, and two years doing sideline reviews and options, made him the second-longest tenured announcer at the time, subsequent to the late Chick Hearn of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Schonely known as 2,252 video games, lacking solely 28 video games throughout his profession, 26 of them in 1981 when he recovered from a coronary heart assault and subsequent open-heart surgical procedure.

He coined lasting nicknames for gamers, reminiscent of Dave “Pinball” Twardzik and Jerome “Mercy, Mercy” Kersey and his broadcasts embrace staples reminiscent of “You’ve acquired to make your free throws!” and “Good night basketball followers, wherever you could be.” He additionally used catchphrases reminiscent of “Cyclops” for the middle circle and “the equator” for the halfcourt line.

The irony in Schonely’s profession is that he grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, with a stutter, however he coached himself previous the speech obstacle by studying aloud the newspaper and by singing.

The oldest of three sons, Schonely figured he was 6 when he fell in love with broadcasting, listening first to kids’s exhibits reminiscent of “Uncle Don.” But he was drawn to sports activities, first by the voice of Fred “By” Saam who did the Philadelphia Athletic/Phillies video games, and Bill Stern who known as Notre Dame soccer.

When he was 12 and 13, he took voice classes for singing, and in highschool spent two summers at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

After highschool, he enlisted within the Marines and in 1948 was stationed in Guam with the Third Marine Division. He joined the Armed Forces Radio and skim information and sports activities reviews whereas additionally conducting interview exhibits along with being a disc jockey.

In 1952, he secured his first job at station WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the place considered one of his duties included calling some LSU soccer video games. In summer season 1955, he moved to Seattle and was employed by KOMO, the place he as soon as teamed with Keith Jackson to name hydroplane races.

But he first made his identify in hockey, when in 1957 he turned the radio voice for the Seattle Totems. He spent 11 years with the Totems and was identified for his “He scoooooooores!” name.

Trail Blazers vs Nuggets preseason

Bill Schonely speaks to the group earlier than the Portland Trail Blazers open preseason towards the Denver Nuggets at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Sean Meagher/Staff

By 1965, he was additionally dabbling in University of Washington soccer video games, the Seattle Angels minor league baseball, and a few West Coast video games for the National Hockey (*93*).

He hit the large leagues in 1969 when at age 39 he was named one of many broadcasters for a Major (*93*) Baseball growth workforce, the Seattle Pilots, working behind veteran Jimmy Dudley.

The Pilots lasted just one season, transferring to Milwaukee for the 1970 season, however simply when Schonely thought his profession had hit a lull, he acquired a name from Portland.

Glickman, who had simply been awarded an NBA growth franchise, knew of Schonely’s work from the times when Glickman owned the Portland Buckaroos hockey workforce, a rival of the Totems.

On July 1, 1970, the 2 struck a deal for $25,000 a yr and Schonely turned the voice of the Blazers. Thirty years later, there was a rocky breakup between Schonely and the Blazers — he nonetheless needed to name video games, the workforce informed him he was too previous — and followers protested.

For almost 4 years, Schonely was not related to the Blazers, broadcasting Portland Beavers Triple-A baseball and as soon as filling in for 5 video games in Corvallis for Oregon State males’s basketball.

In 2002, he was elected into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2003, the Blazers introduced him again as an envoy and raised a banner with an outline of a microphone to the rafters of the Rose Garden in a pregame ceremony. And in 2009, he broadcast the third quarter of an exhibition sport at Memorial Coliseum as a part of the workforce’s 40-year anniversary.

Schonely is survived by his second spouse, Dottie; two sons, Rick and Billy; daughter Linda; and 7 grandchildren.

— Jason Quick and Aaron Fentress

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