Chris Schenkel

Christopher Eugene Schenkel (August 21, 1923 – September 11, 2005) was an American sportscaster. Over the course of five decades he called play-by-play for numerous sports on television and radio, becoming known for his smooth delivery and baritone voice.

Chris Schenkel
Chris Schenkel
Schenkel in 1964
Christopher Eugene Schenkel

August 21, 1923
DiedSeptember 11, 2005 (aged 82)
ResidenceLeesburg, Indiana[1]
Fran Paige (m. 1955–2005)
, his death


Early life and career

Schenkel was born on August 21, 1923 to second-generation immigrant parents on their farm in Bippus, Indiana.[2] He was one of six children.[2] He began his broadcasting career at radio station WBAA while studying for a premedical degree at Purdue University where he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He served in the military during World War II and the Korean War.[2] He worked in radio for a time at WLBC in Muncie, Indiana.[3] and then moved to television, in Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1947 began announcing Harvard football games. For six years he did local radio and called the Thoroughbred horse races at Narragansett Park.[4]

In 1952, Schenkel was hired by the DuMont Television Network, for which he broadcast New York Giants football and hosted DuMont's Boxing From Eastern Parkway (1953-1954) and Boxing From St. Nicholas Arena (1954-56), replacing Dennis James as the network's primary boxing announcer. Schenkel was at the microphone for DuMont's last broadcast and its only color telecast, a high school football championship game held on Thanksgiving in 1957.[5]

In 1956, with DuMont exiting the network television business, he moved to CBS Sports, where he continued to call Giants games, along with boxing, Triple Crown horse racing and The Masters golf tournament, among other events. Along with Chuck Thompson, Schenkel called the 1958 NFL Championship Game for NBC. He was the voiceover talent for the first NFL Films production ever made, the 1962 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.

ABC Sports

ABC Sports hired Schenkel in 1965, and there he broadcast college football, Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, golf and tennis tournaments, boxing, auto racing, and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. He became widely known for covering professional bowling, mainly for the Professional Bowlers Association (with the program becoming known as the Professional Bowlers Tour). He covered bowling from the early 1960s until 1997, as it became one of ABC's signature sports for Saturday afternoons. His broadcast partners on the PBA telecasts included Billy Welu (through 1974) and Nelson "Bo" Burton, Jr. (1975–97). Schenkel and his broadcast team provided exciting and colorful coverage to a sport not typically considered attractive to a television audience. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Pro Bowlers Tour typically outdrew college football and college basketball in the ratings. Many viewers considered it a weekly tradition to watch bowling on Saturday afternoons, which was a lead-in to ABC's Wide World of Sports.

During his 36 years[6] on The Professional Bowlers Tour, there were occasions when ABC sent Schenkel away to cover other assignments. Strangely, he was away on assignment for the first three of the PBA's televised 300 games. Given that Schenkel was in the broadcast booth for three televised 299 games in the 1970s, light-hearted conversation circulated among the PBA faithful that Schenkel was a "curse" for anyone with a chance to shoot a perfect game on television. He would eventually call a televised 300 game on January 31, 1987 when Houstonian Pete McCordic bowled one in the first match of the Greater Los Angeles Open. Schenkel told McCordic it was a great moment for him, since he was away all the other times. Schenkel would be in the ABC booth for five more televised 300 games. Schenkel was also away the first time the 7-10 split was converted on television by Mark Roth.


In 1971, Statesboro, Georgia businessman Charlie Robbins honored Schenkel by developing in his name, a scholarship for golf at Georgia Southern University and calling the great classic, "Chris Schenkel Intercollegiate Golf Tournament", featuring some of the nation's top college golf teams. Schenkel had attended then named Georgia Teacher's College (1930-1958) while in the service near Statesboro during WW II. There are a few books in the School's library today with Schenkel's signed name listed as the one checking out the library book. The Schenkel Tournament ended after the 1989 event when it was discovered that the golf club hosting the tournament was all-white, but was revived in 1999 as the E-Z-Go Schenkel Invitational. This college event is regarded as one of golf's premier intercollegiate events in the East.

Chris Schenkel also did play-by-play (with Bud Wilkinson providing color commentary) for the legendary 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas football game, known as the "Game of the Century", culminating the first 100 years of College Football in 1969. The game, also known as the "Big Shootout", garnered a share of 52.1, meaning that more than one half of the televisions in the United States were tuned in. Years later, Schenkel said "it was the most exciting, most important college football game I ever televised". Schenkel went on to broadcast many more huge games, including the celebrated Nebraska-Oklahoma match on Thanksgiving Day 1971, as well as the Sugar Bowl national championship showdown between Notre Dame and Alabama on New Year's Eve 1973 (with Wilkinson and Howard Cosell, in a rare college football appearance). Schenkel was replaced by Keith Jackson as ABC's lead play-by-play man for college football telecasts in 1974, but continued to call college football games for several more years.

He was the spokesman for Owens-Illinois' "Good Taste of Beer" advertising campaign which began in 1975 and continued through the remainder of the decade.[7]

In 1976, Schenkel was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in the "Meritorious Service" category and in 1988 was inducted into the American Bowling Congress (now United States Bowling Congress) Hall of Fame, also in the "Meritorious Service" category.

Schenkel was inducted in 1981 in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.

He was named National Sportscaster of the Year four times, and in 1992 received a lifetime achievement Emmy Award. Also in 1992, the Pro Football Hall of Fame presented Schenkel with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. In 1999, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1999, the Professional Bowlers Association named the Player of the Year award after Schenkel.

In a 2009 vote by its members, the American Sportscasters Association ranked Schenkel 25th on its list of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All-Time.[8]

In a 2010 podcast, comedian Chris Hardwick (son of former pro-bowler Billy Hardwick) claimed he was named after Schenkel.[9]

In 1996, the National Football Foundation created an award in his honor, given annually to distinctive individuals in broadcasting with ties to a university. [10]

Personal life and death

He was married to former dancer and model, Fran Paige.

Schenkel had three children, Christina, Ted, and John. He also has three grandchildren, Christopher, Michael, and Katie.

Chris resided on Tippecanoe Lake in Leesburg, Indiana.[11]

In 1971, Schenkel, a longtime friend of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, was a passenger in the pace car for that year's Indianapolis 500 race. Astronaut John Glenn and Hulman were also in the car when its driver, Indianapolis-area Dodge dealer Eldon Palmer, crashed the 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible into a camera platform at the beginning of the race.[2]

Schenkel died of emphysema in 2005 at the age of 82.[12] He is interred at Saint Johns United Church of Christ Cemetery in Bippus, Indiana.

Other appearances

Schenkel appeared (along with Bo Burton) as the bowling announcers in the final match in the 1979 movie Dreamer.

Schenkel appeared as himself (again with Burton) in the 1996 film Kingpin. He played the role of play-by-play announcer in the final match between characters Ernie McCracken and Roy Munson.

Another appearance was in the 1994 film Greedy. He played himself as an announcer of a bowling tournament early in the movie.

Schenkel's voice can be heard in the "Daisy" ad for Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 U.S. presidential election campaign.[13]

Schenkel is referenced in the 1973 Cheech & Chong song "Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces".[14]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Callahan, Rick (2011-09-05). "Sportscaster Chris Schenkel dies at 82". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  3. ^ Chris Schenkel
  4. ^ "Virtue Is Its Own Reward". CNN. 22 January 1973.
  5. ^ Tober, Steve (November 20, 2017).Thanksgiving football games a disappearing tradition. Retrieved November 21, 2017. "The ’57 Thanksgiving game at Foley Field was televised live and in color (both rarities in those early TV days) on Channel 5 via the old Dumont Television Network, which was under the leadership of Dr. Dumont, who - by the way - was a Montclair resident. Also, the late, great Chris Schenkel did the play by play."
  6. ^ Sandomir, Richard (12 September 2005). "Chris Schenkel, 82, Versatile and Ubiquitous Sportscaster, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Chris Schenkel Spokesman For O-I's Bottles for Beer," The Palladium-Times (Oswego, NY), Thursday, April 27, 1978.
  8. ^ "Chris Schenkel named 25th greatest sportscaster of all-time." Article at, January 15, 2009.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Callahan, Rick (11 September 2005). "Sportscaster Chris Schenkel dies at 82". USA Today. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  13. ^ Babb, Drew. "LBJ’s 1964 attack ad ‘Daisy’ leaves a legacy for modern campaigns," The Washington Post, Friday, September 5, 2014.
  14. ^

External links

Preceded by
Charlie Brockman
Television voice of the
Indianapolis 500

Succeeded by
Jim McKay
Preceded by
Lead play-by-play announcer, ABC NCAA Football
Succeeded by
Keith Jackson
Preceded by
Bob Wolff
Play-by-Play announcer, NBA Finals
19661971 (with Bob Wolff in 1966 and 1969)
Succeeded by
Keith Jackson
Preceded by
Bill Henry
American television prime time anchor, Summer Olympic Games
Succeeded by
Jim McKay
Preceded by
Jim McKay
American television prime time anchor, Winter Olympic Games
Succeeded by
Curt Gowdy
Preceded by
Jack Buck (in 1961)
Lead play-by-play announcer, Major League Baseball on ABC
Succeeded by
Bob Prince (in 1976)
1970 NBA All-Star Game

The 1970 NBA All-Star Game was played at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, on January 20, 1970. Bob Rule was the replacement for the injured Nate Thurmond of the San Francisco Warriors. The MVP was Willis Reed. The coaches were Red Holzman (East), Richie Guerin (West). The game was broadcast by ABC, with Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman commentating.

1971 NBA Finals

The 1971 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series played at the conclusion of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 25th anniversary season of 1970–71. The Western Conference champion Milwaukee Bucks, who were founded as an expansion team three years earlier, swept the Eastern Conference champion Baltimore Bullets in four games. Baltimore had dethroned the 1969–70 NBA champion New York Knicks.

The Bucks were the first Western Conference champions to win the league's championship since the St. Louis Hawks did so in 1958.

This was the first NBA Finals not played in the state of California in 10 years. It would also be the last time that both participants were playing in their first NBA Finals until the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat got together in the 2006 NBA Finals.

The Bullets were forced to play Game 1 on a Wednesday night, just 48 hours after having defeated New York in Game 7 of the 1971 Eastern Conference Finals, then had to wait four days before playing Game 2.

The series was the second (and last) time in NBA history that the teams alternated home games, the other being in 1956. Most other series were held in the 2-2-1-1-1 or 2-3-2 format. It was also the last NBA Championship Series completed before May 1.

The series was broadcast by ABC with Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman providing the commentary.

As both the Bucks and Washington Wizards (the Bullets' successors) now play in the Eastern Conference, a rematch of this Finals is not currently possible.

Jim McKay

James Kenneth McManus (September 24, 1921 – June 7, 2008), better known by his professional name of Jim McKay, was an American television sports journalist.

McKay is best known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports (1961–1998). His introduction for that program has passed into American pop culture. He is also known for television coverage of 12 Olympic Games, and is universally respected for his memorable reporting on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

McKay covered a wide variety of special events, including horse races such as the Kentucky Derby, golf events such as the British Open, and the Indianapolis 500. McKay's son, Sean McManus, a protégé of Roone Arledge, is the chairman of CBS Sports.

List of Army–Navy Game broadcasters

The following is a list of the television networks and announcers who have broadcast the college football's Army–Navy Game throughout the years.

List of Belmont Stakes broadcasters

The following is a list of national American television networks and announcers that have broadcast Belmont Stakes.

List of Indianapolis 500 broadcasters

The Indianapolis 500 has been broadcast on network television in the United States since 1965. From 1965 to 2018, the event was broadcast by ABC, making it the second-longest-running relationship between an individual sporting event and television network, surpassed only by CBS Sports' relationship with the Masters Tournament (since 1956). In 2014, ABC celebrated fifty years televising the Indianapolis 500, not including 1961 through 1964 when reports and highlights of time trials were aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Since 2019, the race has aired on NBC.

From 1965 to 1970, ABC televised a combination of filmed and/or taped recorded highlights of the race the following weekend on Wide World of Sports. The 1965 and 1966 presentations were in black-and-white, while all subsequent presentations have been in color. From 1971 to 1985, the Indianapolis 500 was shown on a same-day tape delay basis. Races were edited to a two- or three-hour broadcast, and shown in prime time. Starting in 1986, the race has been shown live in "flag-to-flag" coverage. In the Indianapolis market, as well as other parts of Indiana, the live telecast is blacked out and shown tape delayed to encourage live attendance. For 2016, the race was completely sold out, and as such the local blackout was lifted for that year. Since 2007, the race has been aired in high definition.

Currently, the television voice of the Indy 500 is Leigh Diffey, who has been working the race since NBC took over in 2019. The last television voice of the Indy 500 for ABC was Allen Bestwick, who held the position from 2014 to 2018. From 2006 to 2013, Marty Reid called the race, but was released on September 29, 2013. Past television anchors include Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Jim Lampley, Paul Page, Bob Jenkins, and Todd Harris. Other longtime fixtures of the broadcast include Jack Arute, Sam Posey, Jackie Stewart, Bobby Unser, and Dr. Jerry Punch.

On August 10, 2011, ABC extended their exclusive contract to carry the Indianapolis 500 through 2018. Starting in 2014, the contract also includes live coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course.In 2019, the Indianapolis 500 moved to NBC, as part of a new three-year contract that unifies the IndyCar Series' television rights with NBC Sports (the parent division of IndyCar's current cable partner NBCSN), and replaces the separate package of five races broadcast by ABC. The Indianapolis 500 is one of eight races televised by NBC as part of the new deal, which ended ABC's 54-year tenure as broadcaster of the event. WTHR is the local broadcaster of the race under this contract; the existing blackout policy is expected to continue.

List of Kentucky Derby broadcasters

The following is a list of national American television networks and announcers that have broadcast Kentucky Derby.

List of Liberty Bowl broadcasters

The following is a list of the television networks and announcers who have broadcast college football's Liberty Bowl throughout the years.

List of NBA Finals broadcasters

The following is a list of the television and radio networks and announcers that have broadcast NBA Finals games over the years.

List of NFL Championship Game broadcasters

The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the National Football League Championship Game from the 1940s until the 1969 NFL season (after which the NFL merged with the American Football League). The National Football League first held a championship game in 1933, it took until 1948 before a championship game would be televised. The successor to the NFL Championship Game is the NFC Championship Game.

List of Playoff Bowl broadcasters

The Playoff Bowl (officially, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) was a post-season game for third place in the NFL, played ten times following the 1960-69 seasons. It was abandoned in favor of the current playoff structure with the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the Playoff Bowl during its existence.

List of Preakness Stakes broadcasters

The following is a list of national American television networks and announcers that have broadcast Preakness Stakes.

List of Sugar Bowl broadcasters

Television network, play-by-play and color commentator(s) for the Sugar Bowl from 1953 to the present.

National Football Foundation

The National Football Foundation (NFF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, longtime Army Black Knights football coach Earl Blaik and journalist Grantland Rice. Its mission is to promote and develop amateur American football on all levels throughout the United States and to cultivate leadership, sportsmanship, enthusiasm for competition, and the drive for academic excellence among America's youth.

In addition to supporting amateur football on the local level, the National Football Foundation also oversees the support, administration, and operation of the College Football Hall of Fame. Among its other programs and initiatives includes the facilitation of the Play It Smart program, which places a trained "academic coach" who turns football teams into learning teams in underserved high schools across the country, and the awarding of the William V. Campbell Trophy presented by HealthSouth Corporation, referred to in many circles as the "Academic Heisman". In spring 2007, the NFF launched the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, a recognition program for players who excel both on the field and in the classroom. Inductees must have been a starter in their final collegiate season and have earned a 3.2 cumulative GPA for their undergraduate degree. The Foundation also tabulated and released the Bowl Championship Series Standings each Fall and hosts an Annual Awards Dinner in December at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

Archie Manning, a former Ole Miss Rebels football All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, serves as the current chairman, and Steven J. Hatchell, the former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and executive director of the FedEx Orange Bowl, serves as its current president. The foundation has 120 local chapters distributed among 48 states. Since 1956, more than 100,000 volunteers have become members.

Professional Bowlers Tour

The Professional Bowlers Tour, also known as Pro Bowlers Tour, is a broadcast of the Professional Bowlers Association that aired on ABC from 1962 to 1997. In the telecasts, sportscaster Chris Schenkel and the graphics displayed during the show would refer to the show as "The Professional Bowlers Tour", possibly to disambiguate from the NFL's use of the term "pro bowler" when referring to players who were selected for the Pro Bowl—an event also televised on ABC for many years.

Tony Roberts (sportscaster)

Tony Roberts (born 1928) is an American retired sportscaster who was the play-by-play announcer for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 1980 until 2006. He is a member of the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. In 2005, he won the Chris Schenkel Award. In 2006, he was replaced by Don Criqui as play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame.Roberts is from Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Columbia College with a degree in journalism. He began his career working for radio stations in Iowa, Indiana and Washington, D.C.. He has also worked to cover the NFL, MLB, NBA, golf, and the Olympic Games. Roberts was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016.

Related programs
Related articles
Key figures
World Series
AL Championship Series
NL Championship Series
AL Division Series
NL Division Series
All-Star Game
Related articles
Key figures
NBA Finals
All-Star Game
Related programs
Related articles
Key figures
Belmont Stakes
Kentucky Derby
Preakness Stakes
Related programs
Related articles
Key figures
Belmont Stakes
Breeders' Cup
Kentucky Derby
Preakness Stakes
Related programs
Related articles
Indy 500


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.