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Bill Walton joins Sox broadcast, meets with team

Emmy-winning sportscaster gives Giolito 'a little fuel' with inspiring pep talk
@SarahWexler32
August 17, 2019

ANAHEIM -- There isn’t a whole lot that Bill Walton hasn’t done in his life. A legend as both an athlete and a broadcaster, the 66-year-old has experienced almost everything one could hope to experience. Ever the lifelong learner, Walton managed to find something new to add to his resume

ANAHEIM -- There isn’t a whole lot that Bill Walton hasn’t done in his life. A legend as both an athlete and a broadcaster, the 66-year-old has experienced almost everything one could hope to experience.

Ever the lifelong learner, Walton managed to find something new to add to his resume on Friday night at Angel Stadium: calling a Major League Baseball game.

With regular TV color commentator Steve Stone getting the series off, Walton, an Emmy-winning sportscaster, accepted Jason Benetti’s invitation to join him in the broadcast booth as the White Sox played the Angels.

Growing up and living most of his life in San Diego, Calif., Walton had the opportunity to listen to several of baseball’s all-time great broadcasters.

“I realize what a sacrosanct position it is, and so many of my heroes have had this position,” said Walton. “Our hometown of San Diego, [had] Jerry Coleman and Ted Leitner and Dick Enberg. And Southern California, to have Vin Scully. … I’m a fan. I’m a fan of life. And I’m alive. So I’m gonna give it everything I have, I’m gonna try my best.”

At the request of manager Rick Renteria, Walton visited the White Sox clubhouse prior to Friday’s game to offer some of his wisdom and insight to the players.

“It was awesome to listen to him speak,” said Renteria. “He spoke of his experiences at UCLA, some of the things he went through in the NBA, the things that were imparted to him by a lot of people.”

Friday’s winning pitcher, Lucas Giolito, credited Walton’s pep talk for his quality performance in the 7-2 win over the Angels.

“It was a great speech,” said Giolito. “Talking about his experience, things he’s learned, what it takes to be a champion. I was definitely all ears, I was listening to that. It kind of gave me a little fuel for the game, absolutely.”

“It’s always an honor,” said Walton. “Years ago, I was one of those guys. I’m guilty of everything, mostly of not listening to people who knew what they were talking about. So I tried to impress upon them some of the things that have helped me get to where I am in life, and then also tried to impress upon them the importance of their position in life, and how they impact everybody else, just the way they conduct themselves in everyday life.”

Although Walton’s 6-foot-11 stature made him a natural fit for basketball, he also followed baseball growing up. He was a fan of his hometown Padres, then a Triple-A affiliate of the Reds.

“My two favorite players were Chico Ruiz and Tony Perez, and they were just absolutely spectacular,” said Walton. “We would go to the games, and they could not have been nicer.”

There’s some significance to the timing of the series. It’s ‘70s Weekend at Angel Stadium, with Friday night’s attendees receiving tie-dye T-shirts. A big fan of rock ‘n' roll and the Grateful Dead in particular, Walton saw it as kismet.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and it’s tie-dye night here at Angel Stadium,” said Walton. “That is the way my life works. I’m just the luckiest guy in the world.”

Sarah Wexler is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @SarahWexler32.