Bill O'Donnell (broadcaster)

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Bill O'Donnell

Biographical Information[edit]

Bill O'Donnell was a broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, until his untimely death at the age of 56.

He became interested in reporting from a very young age, working as a copyboy for the New York Times as a teenager and also working for the New York World-Telegram before serving as a combat correspondent with the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He then attended Fordham University and Mohawk College after his discharge and joined the Utica Daily Press from 1946 to 1948 while completing his studies. That year, he was offered the job of sports director for radio station WIBX in Utica, NY. That is where he got his first taste of doing play-by-play work, covering college football. In 1950, he added the description of Utica Blue Sox home games to his résumé, also doing recreation for road games.

The Blue Sox left Utica in 1950, and since he wanted to continue doing baseball broadcasts, he moved temporarily to Pocatello, ID to work the games of the Pocatello Cardinals. In 1953, he moved to Syracuse, NY where he became sports director of WYSR radio and television. The re he covered the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League and also occasionally the Auburn Yankees of the New York-Penn League, as well as Syracuse University's football games. He gradually received more exposure and by the end of the decade, he was doing work for the NBC network, covering NBA basketball. In the mid-1960s, he broadcast American Football League games for the network.

His dream was to be the play-by-play broadcaster for a major league baseball team however. In 1966 he applied for the vacant job for the Boston Red Sox and sought a recommendation from the Orioles, for whom he had filled in to broadcast a double header the previous summer. Unknown to him, the Orioles were also loking to add a broadcaster at the time, and his call came fortuitously, as he was immediately offered the job. His first season in the booth coincided with the Orioles winning their first World Series. He continued to do football and basketball coverage in the off-season, but the Orioles were his primary gig from then on. However, in 1981, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo treatment. He resumed his duties for a short time but in 1982, he had a relapse, and this time, was unable to return. he died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in October of that year.

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