One of the positive results of Seattle University's move back to Division I status has been the ability to reconnect with people who played a role in Seattle U's initial rise athletically. One of those people is Rod Belcher, a former radio broadcaster of men's basketball games who was honored during halftime of the Feb. 15 game at KeyArena against UC Davis.
Belcher first became acquainted with Seattle University basketball in the late 1940s, when he was broadcasting Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound games for Tacoma radio station KMO. He then became the sports director at KOL in Seattle in the early 1950s, arriving in the Emerald City at the same time as two brothers from New Jersey.
Belcher shared broadcasting duties with people such as Ted Bell, but he was in the old Seattle U gymnasium for many of the games featuring the O'Brien brothers. Stationed behind the endline in the corner of the gym, Belcher was on the call for many historical moments, such as the night Johnny O'Brien scored 51 points against Gonzaga.
When Seattle University went on the road, Belcher was working in the KOL studios, waiting for the play-by-play, and then recreating the action for the listening audience. Through this method, Belcher was responsible for providing Seattle U fans with the action from, among other games, the team's 102-101 victory over New York University in Madison Square Garden during the 1952-53 season.
Belcher stayed on as radio broadcaster throughout the 1950s as Elgin Baylor arrived on the Seattle University campus. In the 1956-57 season, from the KOL studios in Seattle, he called the action as Seattle U swept through the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla., with victories over Tulane, Memphis State, and Oklahoma City. Belcher also gave Seattle fans a taste of the action during the 1958 Final Four as Seattle U defeated Kansas State before losing in the NCAA title game to Kentucky.
When Seattle U moved into the old Civic Arena, Belcher became the public address announcer, lending his voice to those attending the games rather than those who could not see them in person. In 1966, he was hired by a group of television stations in Texas to broadcast the Texas Western-Seattle U game back to the Lone Star State and was complimented for not sounding like a Seattle U supporter during the broadcast.
With Seattle U's return to Division I and the Seattle Center, Belcher regularly attends games with his daughter Lorri Belcher, who has held season tickets for the past three seasons. Sitting in Section 114, behind the scorer's table, Belcher can't help but look down, see Dave Grosby and Gary Hill, Jr., broadcast the games on 710 ESPN Seattle, and realize that he helped start the tradition of calling the action of Seattle U basketball on the radio.