Eric Bishop - Junior sportswriter Vancouver Sun circa 1944; RCAF 1944; catcher Purity 99 Big Four League baseball Calgary mid 1940s; sportswriter/assistant sports editor Calgary Herald 1946; PR/broadcaster WIHL Los Angeles Ramblers 1946-47; Sports Director CJAT Trail BC 1948; Home Oil Pro Hockey broadcasts CKNW New Westminster 1952; Sports Director CFAC Calgary 1954; called horse races Victoria Park Calgary 1959-64; Sports Editor Calgary Albertan early 1960s; CKXL Calgary late 1960s; part owner WHL Victoria Cougars 1970s; play-by-play WHA Cowboys CFAC Calgary 1980s; sports columnist Calgary Sun 1990s; Canadian Football Hall Of Fame broadcaster. Died in Calgary April 1, 2000 at age 74
"Da Bish", of course.
***Eric Bishop was born Jan. 30, 1926, at Lacombe, spent his first school year at Connaught in Calgary, then moved with his family to Vancouver, where he completed his schooling. He worked briefly for the Vancouver Sun as a junior sportswriter before joining the RCAF at 18. "He never went to war," said former CFAC manager Jim Kunkel, who worked with Bishop off and on from 1954 through 1988. "But he always told us they moved him around to whatever station seemed to need a baseball catcher." Bishop later caught for the Purity 99ers of the old Big Four League, still later umpired in the same league at the old Buffalo Stadium on the banks of the Bow River in Eau Claire. He worked as a sportswriter and assistant sports editor at the Calgary Herald in 1946, quarterbacked the North Hill Blizzards football team and coached the Crescent Heights senior high school football team. A year later, he accepted a public relations and broadcasting job with the Los Angeles Ramblers hockey club, then moved to Trail, B.C., as a radio sports director in 1948. In the early '50s, he became sports director of CKWX in Vancouver before moving to CFAC, Calgary, in 1954. "To me, he was pure enjoyment," recalled Kunkel, who became Bishop's boss in the early Sixties. "It was fun to stand back and watch him get in and out of scrapes. He infuriated some and charmed the pants off others. But he was awfully good at what he did for a living." Bishop's positions were many. He coached the Western Canada high school senior footballers and the Calgary Wranglers of the Alberta junior league. Following his first stint as CFAC sports director, he became sports editor of the Calgary Albertan in the early '60s. He also called the horse races at Victoria Park for a five-year period starting in 1959, was a somewhat competitive curler and co-owned racehorses with the late Jimmy Shields, a Brier and world curling champion in 1968. Bishop also worked briefly with radio station CKXL during the latter '60s. He moved to Victoria in 1970 and was part of an ownership group that operated the Victoria Cougars of the WHL. "It's the only hockey team anybody ever remembers that actually threw up pickets and went on strike," quipped Kunkel. Bishop returned to CFAC following that stint, called the play for the WHA Cowboys and, one season during the '80s, the Calgary Cannons. During the bulk of the '90s, he wrote a thrice-weekly sports column for the Calgary Sun. He is enshrined as a broadcaster in the Canadian Football Hall Of Fame. Died April 1, 2000.
****The Leader-Post (Regina) 2000 Eric Bishop, a veteran broadcaster and newspaper columnist and died Saturday of brain cancer. He was 74. Bishop, a Lacombe, Alta. native, was a well-known radio broadcaster from the 1950s through the '70s who raised eyebrows with his outspoken, emotional delivery. A former owner/GM/broadcaster of the WHL's Victoria Cougars and high school football coach at Western Canada, Bishop was a semi-pro catcher best known for his play- calling of the CFL Stampeders and junior hockey games. He also was briefly a play-by-play broadcaster for the B.C. Lions and the Cowboys of the now-defunct World Hockey Association. "One way or another, everyone in town knew who he was," said former Stampeder and close friend George Hansen. Known around the city as Da Bish and/or Beesh, Bishop retired from CFAC radio in 1988. "I thought he was the best play-by-play football announcer Canada ever produced," said Ed Whalen, a 25-year broadcasting colleague. "I mean, what other Canadian broadcaster ever had an NFL audition (Chicago Bears) and turned down the job? He was talented at the mike, talented with the pen. "
*** Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the sports community across Canada and all of Calgary bids farewell to a legend today. Mr. Eric Bishop, an institution in Calgary for decades, passed away last week. Today is the day that his legion of friends will gather to reminisce and swap stories about one of sport's most colourful and insightful media personalities. Eric Bishop was born in Lacombe, Alberta 74 years ago and very early on established himself as a pillar in the sports world. To quote George Hansen, “One way or another, everyone knew who Eric Bishop was”. He was one of the best broadcasters to ever sit in front of a microphone and one of the most insightful sportswriters to ever sit at a typewriter. We all have our own idea of what heaven will be like. Those who knew Eric Bishop say that for him, there will be green felt covered tables, plenty of good cigars, unopened fresh decks of cards, and rooms full of family, friends and fans. 2000-04-05 Parliament
*** ALL-STAR VOCAL CORDS: Those of Eric Bishop, who covered the first-ever Stamps' game (Oct. 20, 1945) as a Herald reporter, then went on to 25-odd years as the team's radio voice. Bish concedes he was something of a homer: ``Back in the days when Winnipeg used to kill us, Art Scullion cold-cocked Kenny Ploen, the Bombers' great QB. That's when I said, `I hope it's nothing trivial.' '' Jim Coleman 1995
*** (Copyright TRAIL DAILY TIMES 2000) Eric Bishop, now there's a name to conjure with, if you were around this area in the post-war period. He was a genius, albeit one with giant flaws, and his endeavors in this town made a difference. I have spoken of late to a lot of people who knew him. (Adult-to adult, I mean. I remember Eric, too, he was among my dad's many friends that hung out at all the venues I frequented, but I was in elementary school at the time). A couple of the people I have spoken to claim he was a big reason sports was "rejuvenated" here after the war. He seemed to be everywhere, and seldom shut up. The thing with Eric was, he frequently knew what he was talking about, so it's probably a good thing he had a lot of avenues of expression. At one time he was sports director for CM&S' Cominco magazine, sports director and play-by-play man at CJAT (KBS) and a sportswriter and sometimes sports editor for this paper. All at once. At the same time, he played fastball, part-owned and managed the men's baseball team, played and coached basketball, worked hard at bringing football to town and had an active social life. "Trail was a sports town and he was a sports guy," remembers one friend. "He was a `yapper', that's true, but he had a lot of friends, and did a lot of good around here." Bishop got people looking outwards again, taking the very good baseball team he managed to such places as Vancouver and North Battleford (where they played against, among others, Gordie Howe), and helping bring teams from those kind of distances to tournaments in this area. Ball tournaments, sure, but also things like the Rossland Trail Golf tournament and some local bonspiels. He got people into the stands for baseball and hockey, and just generally lifted the sports spirit around here. Eric had a few rough edges, but he made a lot of friends, even courted a local girl, while he was in this area. As peripatetic as he was it's surprising, but true, that he considered himself a Trail Guy, perhaps foremost among his allegiances. I have in front of me a column he wrote for the Calgary Sun just before Christmas, from Hawaii, (Sure Eric, too sick to come for the WIHL reunion but okay to go to Maui). In that column he reminisces about the time when he was "King of the Doukhobors.....well, actually, ....King of the Douks of the diamond." The story deals with the misadventures of Bishop, Johnny Sofiak and Bobby Kromm when they had been lured to Castlegar, by various inducements from John Verigin, "Really the King," said Bishop, to play for Verigin's fastball club. The arrangement with the three Prairie-born Trailites broke down when Kromm realized that while he was playing for beer, Bishop and Sofiak were being paid in cash and beer. On top of that, Bishop discovered his batterymate was receiving $5 more per game than Eric, and that really tore it. It's a good story and well written. I bring it up, however, because not very deep between the lines one finds the fondness Eric had for this place. A fondness those who knew him in those days will return. The guy, warts and all, is probably the best and most important sports journalist the Interior of B.C. has ever known. One more quick story. Eric and Annis Stukus both went to work for the brand-new B.C. Lions in the early 50s and maintained links for decades. Both were witty and garrulous, and being around either could be a treat. I was privileged on a couple of occasions to be there with both in top shape. No one else got a word in edgewise, but the laughter flowed so hard no one had breath to drink. No one except, "Da Bish", of course.
BC Radio History