Bill Wardle was a true baseball man and very good hockey man too…..Got the word on Sunday that Bill had passed away up in Beaver, Pennsylvania and Bill really left us with some great memories from over the years and he was always a big help to others in the process…
Bill was a UNC-grad and he loved his Heels and he played baseball for the Tar Heels and during the course of one season when he got hurt/injured, he started doing commentary for the Tar Heel baseball games on the radio and I believe the games were on the campus station at that time and this had to be back in the early 70’s…Bill’s dad came down from Pennsylvania and played football for the Tar Heels back in his day….
Bill opened his first Suds and Duds in Carrboro, just up the road from Chapel Hill and later moved on to Greensboro to expand the business into this market and at one time he had Carrboro, Walker Avenue, Quaker Village and East Bessemer locations….The idea was to put/place the Suds and Duds coin-operated laundries near college campuses…Hence UNC, UNCG, Guilford College and N.C. A&T….
While in Greensboro, Bill connected with Bob Licht at the old WKEW 1400AM radio station and he started doing commentary with Bob on the Greensboro Hornets’ games….Bill later teamed with Bob down in Zebulon and they did Carolina Mudcats’ games for Steve Bryant down there…When Bob left for Charlotte and the Charlotte Hornets(NBA), Bill took over the Greensboro Hornets and then the Greensboro Bats broadcasts for owners Steve Bryant and then John Horshok/Bill Collins….
Bill later added the Greensboro Monarchs hockey games to his list of sports announcing duties and he was doing the games for Bill Coffey in the beginning, with Jeff Brubaker in there as the head coach….Bill called the Monarchs’ ECHL Championship win over Winston-Salem(Thunderbirds?) back in the late 80’s/early 90’s….Bill later called the games for the first season of the Greensboro Generals, as he had left the hockey for a-while and he made his return….By that time, around 1999-2000, Bill had already given up his baseball duties to focus on his Suds and Duds business….
Bill was a true sports man and fan and when I first met him, back in the early days of the Suds and Duds, we would sit in there and talk sports for hours on end….Bill had all of baseball down pat and he knew the Pittsburgh Pirates inside and out, up and down and all-around….I learned a lot just from being around Bill and I would never have known the true art of announcing baseball without his help…I learned everything I know about the true details of baseball from Bill Wardle….
Bill said in the beginning; just go out there sit and in the stands and score the game with a scorebook…..”A scoreboook?”, I had seen those before, but didn’t know how to use one….But I learned pretty quick….You better not go into that press box to broadcaast a game with Bill, if you didn’t have your scorebook….I studied those games in the beginning from the stands and then knew just enough to call the games and soon I was ready to hit the road to cover the team in Hickory, Asheville and places like that….If Bill had a vaction coming up, I was hitting the road following the team….I really wouldn’t know much about the real world of baseball at all, if not for Bill Wardle…I probably could have bluffed it, but you really can’t bluff it in baseball, you have to know it and you will never know it all, because there is so much going on in the game and so much of it at the same time….
Bill said you can’t announce/broadcast the game if you don’t have a ‘home run call’ and I had to think about that one and had heard ‘Back, back, back’, and ‘Kiss that baby goodbye’ and others like ‘she’s out of here’ etc. and I came up with “Going, going, going, that sucker’s LONG GONE”…..
I owe it all to Bill Wardle….He emphasized you have to be ready….Be at the park at 5pm for the 7pm game…Pre-game format, scorebook, home run call, have two bottled waters for every game, get the linescore off of the scoreboard as soon as the game is over and hurry…Must get your pre-game interview with the manager and all the details….
I could write a small book on all the details that I learned from Bill Wardle, but let me just say thanks and I’m sure that there are many others’ lives that he touched along the way and just a few names that came to mind yesterday….Bob Licht, Alan Ashkinazy, Joe Lee, Charlie Atkinson, Ogi Overman, Jim Scott, Gary Voncannon, Jeff Brubaker, John Horshok, Mary Detgen Wardle, Jane Detgen and many, many more down the line…Thanks Bill for being a good teacher, a good father and a good friend to all that you came in contact with and your level of communication ranks very high, on the list of those that I have come in contact with over the years…Very well-spoken and always prepared…..