Chris Schenkel (born August 21, 1923 in Bippus, Indiana; died September 11, 2005 in Fort Wayne, Indiana) was an American sportscaster. Over the course of five decades he called play-by-play for numerous sports on television and radio, becoming known for his smooth delivery and baritone voice.
Schenkel began his broadcasting career at radio station WBAA while studying for a premedical degree at Purdue University. After military service in World War II, he resumed sportcasting in Providence, Rhode Island; in 1947 he called the first American football game ever broadcast on television (a Harvard-Army contest).
In 1952 Schenkel was hired by the DuMont network, for which he broadcast New York Giants football; in 1956 he went to CBS, where he continued to call Giants games, along with boxing, the Triple Crown horse racing, and The Masters golf tournament, among other events. Along with Chuck Thompson, Schenkel called the now-legendary 1958 NFL championship game for NBC.
ABC hired Schenkel in 1965, and there he broadcast college football, NBA basketball, golf and tennis tournaments, boxing, auto racing, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and professional bowling like the Professional Bowlers Association, also known as The PBA Tour, a sport he would cover into the 1990's as one of ABC's signature sports for many Saturday afternoons.
In 1971, Schenkel, a longtime friend of the late Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, was a passenger in the pace car for that year's Indianapolis 500 race. Astronaut John Glenn and Hulman were also in the car when its driver, Indianapolis-area Dodge dealer Eldon Palmer, crashed the 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible into a section of bleachers at the beginning of the race. Someone had moved the flag Palmer had positioned as a braking reference point, leading to the incident that injured twenty-two people, mostly photographers. Schenkel and the car's other occupants were not seriously injured.
Also in 1971, Stateboro, GA businessman Charlie Robbins honored Schenkel by developing in his name a scholarship for golf at Georgia Southern University and developed the Chris Schenkel Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, featuring some of the nation's top college golf teams. The tournament ended after the 1989 because of concerns after it was discovered the golf club hosting the tournament was all white, but was revived in 1999 as the E-Z-Go Schenkel Invitational. The tournament is regarded as one of college golf's premier intercollegiate tournament in the East.
Four times Schenkel was named National Sportscaster of the Year, and in 1992 he received a lifetime achievement Emmy. Also in 1992, the Pro Football Hall of Fame presented Schenkel with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. In 1999, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award.
After a long bout with emphysema, Schenkel died in 2005 at the age of 82.