He was the voice of the Houston Rockets for two generations. And yet, he was so much more.
Known best for his signature work as the Rockets’ play-by-play announcer, for 50 years Bill Worrell delivered everything from the local news to covering his alma mater at the University of Houston to Astros baseball and of course NBA Championship seasons.
The 77-year-old Worrell, who called his final Rockets game last May, will be honored with the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Houston Sports Awards presented by Insperity on February 3, 2022 at the Wortham Center.
He joins the 2022 Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class - Roger Clemens, Clyde Drexler and Sheryl Swoopes - all who will be honored at the fifth annual Houston Sports Awards.
"I was just shocked when they told me,' Worrell said. "It's been a great run for me. Fifty years in television in Houston and working with all these great athletes and coaches and owners. And really having a front row seat in seeing the development of the facilities and the sports and the new fans over and over has been really something I've cherished because I love this city."
"This is my city. I was born and raised here. I’m overwhelmed to be getting this award. I’m humbled by it.’’
Worrell, who graduated from Lamar High School and the University of Houston, got his start at KPRC (Channel 2) in 1970 when legendary news director Ray Miller helped him refine his news skills. “It was a great place to start,’’ Worrell said. “My desk was right behind his – like a school, the school of Ray Miller.’’
By 1972, Worrell was doing the midday weekday news and weekend newscasts for KPRC. In 1974, he moved to KPRC sports. He had also done public address announcing for UH and the Rockets before calling his first Rockets games in 1980 for KHTV (Channel 39) and KTXH (Channel 20).
When Home Sports Entertainment, one of the first regional sports networks launched, Worrell left KPRC in 1982 to join HSE as lead anchor. A year later he returned to Rockets play-by-play and continued calling games on HSE, Prime Sports, Fox Sports Southwest, KTBU (Channel 55), KNWS (Channel 51), Fox Sports Houston, Comcast SportsNet Houston and AT&T SportsNet Houston.
Worrell was not just a basketball announcer, he also called Astros games for 20 seasons (1985-2004) as well as a dozen other sports, working with more than 60 analysts and co-hosts throughout his career.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to be in Houston this long and watch the growth and development of sports in this market,’’ he said.
Worrell feels fortunate to cover so many varied events and personalities, starting with three coaches who were at UH when he was a freshman – Houston Sports Hall of Famers Bill Yeoman and Guy V. Lewis and golf coach Dave Williams. “Now you tell me where you can find three coaches at the same school, at the same time who are all Hall of Famers?”
His favorite season? “Both (NBA) Championship years,’’ he said of Houston’s back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. “I mean, how are you going to top that?’’
Worrell was honored by UH as a Distinguished Alumni in 2015 and was inducted into the UH Hall of Honor in 2016.