Rod Belcher, KING-TV sports director and voice of the Huskies, Seattle U and Rainiers minor-league baseball during a long broadcasting career, died Friday in Seattle after suffering a recent stroke. He was 94.
Belcher, a native of Berkeley, Calif., and an all-conference basketball point guard at Humboldt State, joined Tacoma’s KMO Radio in 1946, broadcasting Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound basketball. He joined Seattle’s KOL Radio (1952-54), where his duties included a heavy diet of “recreated” baseball broadcasts using wire-service bulletins.
He also called UW football games, starting with the Hugh McElhenny-Don Heinrich Huskies of 1949, and Seattle U basketball in the 1950s and early 1960s, when the O’Brien twins and Elgin Baylor starred for the then-Chieftains.
With the advent of television sports, Belcher began a nine-year run at KING-TV and radio in 1960 and was a three-time state sportscaster of the year when his competition at rival KOMO was an up-and-coming talent named Keith Jackson.
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In 1957 and 1958, Belcher was the voice of the Seattle Rainiers Class AAA baseball team when Leo Lassen left over a contract dispute. Eleven years later, Belcher authored the theme song of Seattle’s ill-fated first venture into Major League Baseball — “Go, Go, You Pilots” — for the team that went bankrupt after one season and moved to Milwaukee.
After leaving KING, he owned an advertising agency, worked for the Department of Transportation for 10½ years and did press-box PA duty for the Seahawks for nearly three decades, beginning with their inaugural 1976 season.
Belcher, known for his dry wit and love of jazz, remained an avid steelhead fisherman in his later years.
Before coming to Seattle, in 1950, he was the voice of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers for one season — but under the name of Rod Hughes (his middle name was Hugh). That’s because, he said, team sponsor Acme beer didn’t want a guy named Belcher doing the broadcasts.
He is survived by daughter Lorri Belcher, stepdaughters Barbara Fortney and Janet DeCaro, five grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Plans for a memorial service are pending.