SPORTS: WIAA Hall of Fame beckons Chapman

Howard “Scooter” Chapman has an idea how his career will end.

The 76-year-old broadcaster will be doing his morning show on KONP radio someday when, suddenly, the airwaves will go silent.

“I’m going to have the big heart attack on the air at about 8 o’clock some morning,” Chapman said with a chuckle. “That will be the end of it.”

As awful as that sounds, it seems almost fitting for a man who has devoted most of his life to informing the North Olympic Peninsula.

It’s his contributions to the area’s sporting landscape — Port Angeles in particular — that will earn Chapman induction into the WIAA Hall of Fame today at the Spirit of Washington Events Center in Renton.

Part of a class of 12 inductees, Chapman will be honored as a “contributor” at the afternoon ceremony.

Given all of the ways he has supported Peninsula athletics — through radio, newspapers and officiating — during the past 60 years, it seems an apt description, according to fellow umpire John Hayden.

“The thing about Scooter is his officiating has been just one part of all he has given to this community,” said Hayden, who has served alongside Chapman as an umpire since 1983.

“The countless hours on the radio, the newspaper coverage, for a long time they had a Saturday radio show. The way he was able to acknowledge every kid on every field . . . absolutely amazing.

“Every small town has people who are boosters and supporters and stuff. It’s amazing how many people spend time with kids.

“But you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who did more than Scooter.”

A younger Scooter may have scoffed at the idea of sticking around Port Angeles sports his whole life.

That Chapman developed a fondness for baseball and radio listening to Seattle Rainiers announcer Leo Lassen as a grade school-aged kid in Seattle.

When he came with his father to Port Angeles in Scooter’s eighth-grade year, they moved into an apartment a few blocks away from KONP.

Soon, he was sweeping floors at the station and spinning records on Sundays. He worked as a stat keeper and spotter at games his junior year in 1951.

“I was just excited to be around the radio station,” Chapman said.

“You never know what you are going to end up with. My goal in life was to be a beat writer for a [MLB] baseball team. That’s what I wanted to be.

“That never worked out.”

Laughing, Chapman added, “I thought there was a lot of money in radio stations, but that didn’t work out to be, either.”

Chapman graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1952 and attended the University of Washington for three quarters before “running out of money.”

A few years after returning to Port Angeles and marrying his high school sweetheart, Loretta, he joined the army and got an education in radio and television as a broadcast specialist at Fifth Army Headquarters in Chicago from 1957-59.

In his last year of service, he was the producer/director of the then new U.S. Army Television Hometown Newscenter team from Fifth Army.

Once he returned to Port Angeles in 1961, he served dual roles as sports editor of the Port Angeles Evening News (predecessor to the Peninsula Daily News) and sports director for KONP.

That began a career that’s run almost completely uninterrupted since.

“When he went in the service we knew right away we were going to come back here,” said Loretta, who has four sons, 12 grandchildren and six great grandchildren with Scooter.

“I think that was like a dream [covering an MLB team].”

As voice of Rider athletics, Chapman has called more than 500 football games and 1,500 basketball games.

Since 1961, he’s only missed four football games. Three came after triple-bypass surgeries, in which he was back for basketball season that year.

“I didn’t ever want to go out and look anyplace else for work, I guess,” Chapman said.

“I just started having children, and we decided not to move.”

50-year run

For much of that time, Scooter has also officiated all sorts of middle school, junior varsity and varsity sporting events.

He served as the assigning secretary for the Western Peninsula Umpires for 30 years and still does games to this day.

When he worked for the PDN in the past, he would take notes during games so he could write up a first-person story for the next day’s paper.

If he refereed the Rider JV game, he’d take a quick shower before jumping up into the broadcast booth to call the varsity contest.

“There were several times when I was broadcasting games and writing the story at the same time,” said Chapman, who eventually left the PDN in 1988 and became a full-time employee with KONP.

“I went on the bus with the team, took the portable typewriter and I’d write the story on the way home.”

Among the greatest thrills of Chapman’s career were covering three great area basketball teams:

■ The 1966 Rider boys: Finished second in Class AA (now 4A).

■ The 1970 Peninsula College men: Won the WAACC title.

■ The 1986 Rider girls: Finished second in Class AAA (now 4A).

Lee Sinnes played for the ’66 Rider team and eventually came back to coach Port Angeles boys basketball for several years.

Of course, Chapman was there covering his Riders the whole time.

“They should give this guy the key to the city of Port Angeles for what he’s done for student-athletes in this community,” Sinnes said.

“The support he gave to us as coaches and players who went on to find recognition beyond high school was instrumental.

“You could put everybody you can think of together and they didn’t have the impact that he had helping student-athletes.”

Going to Hall

Chapman had three choices for people to bring along to today’s induction ceremony.

He chose his wife, his youngest son, Craig, and Pastor Ted Mattie, who is also his spotter and statistician at Rider football and basketball games.

“I’m anxious to see what they are going to do over there,” Chapman said.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a humbling experience. There’s not many broadcasters or umpires in the [WIAA] Hall of Fame.

“There’s not many writers, mostly high school people, so I feel quite honored and humbled at that.”

Loretta, 76, said she expects her husband might get a little emotional at the event.

Scooter, after all, continues the work he does for a reason, including writing a weekly column for the Sequim Gazette.

And despite what he might say in an interview, that has little to do with finances, Loretta said.

“He has always given his life to sports in the area, especially Port Angeles,” she said.

“Even though he could retire, he just really enjoys the work that he does. That’s all he knows.

“He has a day off and he just kind of wanders around.

“That’s his life.”

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