Overall, Bill Worrell is the voice of Houston sports

For a certain generation of Houston sports fans, Gene Peterson is, and always will be, the voice of the Rockets.

The man who taught us that the “Dipsy Doodle” is a basketball movement and who celebrated his victories with “How sweet it is” will always be in a class by himself.

So no, Bill Worrell, who announced he will be retiring after calling the Rockets’ last home game of the season on Friday, will not remain the voice of the Rockets.

Worrell is the voice of Houston sports. All. Period.

From Lamar high school to UH via our lounges.

At one point, the man called matches for every team in town.

In a world where vocals get tired so easily, in a city where sports fans are so used to seasons that end in disappointment, Worrell’s remains popular.

He always made good news of wins sound better and bad news of losses hurt less.

We hosted him in our house because he’s someone you want to watch a game with. Worrell is excited when teams play well, attacks officials when they make calls and calls the home team when they don’t show up.

A announcer from his hometown who wasn’t a circuit to the point of being afraid to say it as is, Worrell was always professional, but you knew where his heart was.

He never got bigger than the game, graciously allowing a slew of broadcast partners to grow and excel while Worrell ran the show.

Thus, he has built a reputation as an outstanding teammate. Young and inexperienced broadcasters (and non-broadcasters) were matched with him because executives knew Worrell would educate and protect them. Jim Nantz, Hannah Storm, Bum Phillips, Dave Elmendorf, Rick Barry and Bill Walton are among the dozen who have had the privilege of working alongside the voice of Houston.

Worrell convinced Calvin Murphy to become a broadcaster. His drive to be a straight man and a translator fit in perfectly with Murphy’s loud, boisterous style (and I’m not just talking about my man’s suits).

This legendary combination will never be equaled.

Worrell’s seamless transition from the Astros colored man to the Rockets’ play-by-play announcer, when he did both, was impressive. He advertised the Astros games for 20 years (1985-2004).

The Rockets’ announcement of Worrell’s departure included a note that he will stay with AT&T SportsNet next season, his 40th with the Rockets, as a “special contributor.”

It’s Worrell, okay.

Trendy enough to use “cool blood” properly and funny enough to keep you on your toes while waiting for the gems. A longtime guy for banquets and the like, Worrell shows up in Cougar Red and delivers no matter the venue.

No one in Houston sports has more stories than Worrell. He was there, did it and announced it.

I would pay to hear his piece by piece from the days when he and his college roommate, the late Jamie Hildreth, who was a longtime Astros executive, moved a baby chick to their dorm, aka “Cabeza de Poop, ”as Worrell describes it.

Worrell claims he switched from a pre-medical radio / TV specialty because a biology class conflicted with baseball practice at UH, where he was a left-handed starting pitcher for the Cougars at the late 1960s.

What a great decision for us.

Much like what KPRC did by moving it from the press office to sports.

Worrell’s first game in the NFL was a preseason contest between the Oilers and Washington in DC. It was August 9, 1974, the day President Richard Nixon resigned.

“I remember there was a game where a guy was digging around or something, and I said, ‘I guess he’s about as happy right now as Richard Nixon,’ recalls. Worrell 20 years later. “I came back to Houston and (former Channel 2 president) Jack Harris had left me a note. It read: “No politics in sport”. “

An established star in the business 20 years later, Worrell had a classic line in a Rockets-Pacers game the day after the November 1994 election, which is known as the Republican Revolution because the Republican Party has took control of the House and Senate for the first time in over 40 years.

When Indianapolis fans threw ice cream and cups on the field as time was up, Worrell said, “This crowd has been angry all night. It must be a crowd of Democrats.

Thirty years ago, when he was already Houston’s main advertiser, Worrell spent four weeks at the Betty Ford Center seeking treatment for alcoholism. He has spoken openly about how sobriety has improved his life and made him better at his job.

Worrell never seems to have a bad day. He greets strangers, like yours really at a Rockets road game in Denver once, with a smile and takes the time to chat despite his work.

A few minutes later, he told my mom on the air that I would be home in a few days.

Now, years later, I’m no longer a stranger, but he brings the same smile and takes the time to chat despite his job.

And he gets to work. No one is perfect, but Worrell is as close to perfect as it gets.

How important is Bill Worrell to the sports world in Houston?

While sitting with Hakeem Olajuwon at a Cleveland airport, he coined the term “Dream Shake”.

So yeah, put Houston’s special contributor The Voice of Houston in every hall of fame.

He is the best.

jerome.solomon@chron.com

twitter.com/jeromesolomon




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