‘Wild’ Bill shoots from the hip

Mavericks’ emcee displays a game-show-host personality to Columbia fans
Thursday, August 28, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Bill Hippe isn’t Bob Barker, but he’s close.

Many Columbians know “Wild” Bill by name, by face and by noise. A lot of it. The on-field emcee for Mid-Missouri Mavericks games, “Wild” Bill’s job is to generate fan excitement. The job requirements, though, do not include high stepping around the field, blurting out lines to famous movies and carrying on with fans even when he doesn’t have to.

This is not surprising since “Wild” Bill tends to go over the top in much of what he does. At the tryout for on-field emcee, the other candidates just read the script they were given. What they didn’t realize is that Hippe shoots from the hip. His actions are unscripted.

“Wild” Bill graduated from Missouri in May 2002 with a degree in broadcast journalism. A tight job market, though, kept him from finding a job he likes. In the meantime he was working at KOMU-TV and was filming a sports segment at the Mavericks open tryouts. It was then that he found out the team was looking for an on-field emcee.

“We were looking for a Bob Barker, game show host type of guy that can ad-lib, talk to the fans and gets laughs, yet keeps things moving and he seemed to have all that ability,” Mavericks General Manager Pat Daly said.

At the tryouts, “Wild” Bill was born.

Unlike promotional gimmicks such as the Famous Chicken, The Blues Brothers, and Myron Noodleman, designed to keep the fans happy for a night, “Wild” Bill does it every night there is a Mavericks home game.

“You want to deliver, you want people to come back, or if they’ve already been, you don’t want them to be disappointed,” Hippe said.

At the beginning of the season, the Mavericks front office told Hippe his face would be one of the most recognizable of the organization. He didn’t believe that until he had his first autograph request.

“Are you sure?” he said.

Now he’s used to the autographs, usually signing a few each game. He gets recognized around town, too, at restaurants, or just when he’s walking around.

Some fans at the ballpark have contributed to Wild Bill’s popularity. Every time Hippe steps on the field, a chorus of fans says, “It’s Wild Bill time.”

According to Lauren Tischer, his girlfriend, a day at the “office” for Wild Bill is no different from when he’s at home.

“He doesn’t have to work at getting up enough energy to do his job,” Tischer said. “There’s a lot of excess energy and this is a good outlet for it.”

Said Hippe: “There’s really nothing I do at the ballpark that I don’t do on a daily basis. There’s something in my natural chemistry. I’m ridiculous 24/7 usually; you never know what you’re going to get with me. I guess I’m kind of a spaz in a way.”

Hippe is having so much fun this summer he is rethinking his career path. Once set on sports broadcasting, Hippe is looking for a position in teaching, coaching or public relations for a sports franchise. Hippe said he gets noticed much more after one summer of “acting like an idiot,” than for being on TV for two years.

That’s the difference between television and his new job — no restrictions. He can yell. He can dance. In his new job, he’s noticed more because he makes people remember him.

“It’s tough not to remember the 6-foot-3, 250-pound man in a big red jersey, running around and screaming at you,” Hippe said.

But Bob Barker?

“Personally, I think I’m a little more animated than Bob,” he said. “I guess I’m a bit of a local celebrity.”

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