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Don Hill
Broadcasters (2005)  

Tacoma baseball fans not only enjoyed outstanding play on the field during the 1960s but also outstanding play-by-play in the radio booth.

Don Hill moved from the Midwest, where he was the American Association's Outstanding Broadcast for 14 seasons, to Tacoma as the Tacoma Giants began Pacific Coast League play at the new Cheney Stadium. He called the action for the Tacoma Giants from 1960 through 1965 and for the Tacoma Cubs from 1966 through 1971.

Tacoma captured two PCL championships during those years, in 1961 with the Giants and in 1969 with the Cubs. The ’61 Giants are ranked among the greatest minor league teams of all time by baseball historians.

Hill was renowned for his road game re-creations. In those days most minor league teams didn’t send their broadcasters on the road. But Hill and wife, Connie, made it difficult for listeners to realize he wasn’t describing the proceedings in person. With Don at the mic in the home booth, Connie gathered the game action that came across the teletype or from the telephone from the road ballpark. She would take skeletal information and hand it to Don, such as:
First batter: struck out
Second batter: ground out to SS
Third batter: single
Fourth batter: fly ball to LF

From such skeletal facts he could develop a 15-minute yarn describing each pitch and its location, where the ball was hit and, on occasion, even a fake argument on a close play that he imagined could have occurred. Don had a myriad of gadgets in the studio to mimic the sound of a crowd in the background, the bat hitting the ball and even an organ playing. He rang a cow bell for cheering a home run. Hill passed on his recreation arts to other Tacoma broadcasters such as Jerry Howarth, Bill Doane and Art Popham.

Hill’s broadcasting career covered 50 years and 10,000 broadcasts, give or take a few on both counts. Born Dwight Herrick in Bloomington, IL April 8, 1916, he spent his early career in Louisville. There he was friends with shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who received a call to the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Before leaving, Reese tossed his glove to Hill, saying “Here you go, Don. I won’t be needing it up with Brooklyn.” Later Hill donated the glove to the Shanaman Sports Museum of Tacoma-Pierce County, where it remains on display.

From Louisville Hill moved to Omaha for five years and then to Columbus, Ohio for the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

Hill’s signature call was “How about that, Giants (or Cubs) fans!” His Tacoma teams gave him reason for excitement.

Besides baseball, Hill loved jazz and had a large record (those were the days!) collection. Many of his albums were autographed. He would spend hours listening to his jazz records, just as Tacoma baseball fans spent hours at their radios hearing his skilled reporting. He died May 12, 2002.

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