Longtime Raymond High School sports public address announcer Doug Allton is retiring after 28 years in calling football and boys and girls basketball. He and his wife, Wannette, are planning to tour the country after she retires in August. A resident of Willapa Harbor for 37 years and a former employee of Bud’s Lumber and Harbor Saw &Supply, among other companies, Allton coached youth baseball, from Little League to Babe Ruth, for 20 years, and spent five years broadcasting Willapa Harbor high school sports. The 68-year-old Allton has three children, son Mike of Westport and daughters LeeAnn and Toni, both of The Dalles, Ore.
Your retirement plans are interesting. What do you plan to do?
Whatever it takes to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I hope to never again miss spring training in the Phoenix area. Other locations will be places where there are few people and fewer trees. That will probably be accomplished with a fifth-wheel trailer.
When the grass needs mowed, I will leave. If I don’t care for the neighbors, I won’t have to wait for them to move. I also plan to occasionally watch six grandsons and two granddaughters play sports while enjoying life with my wife, Wannette, who retires in August.
If you had to pick one or two memorable moments from Raymond High School sports during your tenure as public address announcer, what would they be?
The most memorable moment was Senior Parents Night during the 1991 Raymond boys basketball season. In those “good old days,” the public address announcer conducted the ceremonies. They were brief. My son, Mike, was the only senior. I was the only parent. It took five seconds!
What, in your opinion, separates good public address announcers from those who aren’t as effective? Any advice you would give to people who would like to try public address announcing?
The first piece of advice is to be brief. Fans attend to watch the game, not to listen to the announcer.
Give them the necessary information — name and number of player, what the player did pertinent to the play and identify rule infractions or the rule violation in football. Hysterical play-by-play is unnecessary. Don’t indulge in cheerleading from the bench and be respectful to the officials. An occasional colorful off-mic remark is acceptable. The fans are watching the game live, not listening on the radio.
Ask coaches or parents (if necessary) for the correct pronunciation of the players’ name. Enjoy the moment and be a class act. People will respect your work.
Any particularly embarrassing moments as a public address announcer?
At a basketball game, I once began by calling it a football game (some nights, it can be easy to confuse the two). I have announced players by giving them their father’s name. This is proof that you have been there too long.
Summer youth baseball, which you coached for many years, seems to have become terminally fragmented with the development of competing programs, traveling teams, etc. Is this a positive or negative development? If it’s negative, is there any way to fix it?
The Twin Harbors area has had a relatively insignificant decline in population but a tremendous decline in summer baseball participation. Many factors are involved in this decline, not the least of which has been the decisions of certain parent/coaches and league officials to take their children and leagues in many different directions. The reasons are many, including the lack of strong and continuous leadership.
Some youth baseball volunteers believe in competitive baseball and others in participation baseball. As long as someone is keeping score, this can be a tough mix. However, these factions can co-exist if those involved are willing to put in a lot of time and hard work. If you teach those who wish to participate, a competitve spirit will soon follow.
Others refuse to get involved to any degree. Also, there are those who believe their son or daughter is going to become a college or professional star without any rational consideration. Poor results often happen for all involved. It’s right in front of us to see.
It becomes easier in this day and age to allow the electronic devices to become the entertainment and the parent.
If you were granted three wishes to change either high school or summer youth sports, what would they be?
The first would be common-sense scheduling and league organization, something that the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association appears to know little about.
The second would be to ban all school-organized and sponsored summer league games and coaches’ clinics and camps.
Allow the athletes to participate in baseball, softball and soccer during the summer without feeling obligated to a particular high school sport or coach.