Bill Scott, better known to his many fans as "Bill the Beerman," died Sunday night from complications of colon cancer originally diagnosed in 2001. He was 58.
For more than 20 years, Scott led cheers in the Kingdome, starting in 1976 as a beer vendor who spontaneously encouraged fans to shout at Seahawks and Mariners games.
If you lived here then and went to the Kingdome, you knew him, the big barrel-chested guy with the beard and booming voice who sold you beer and gave you permission to cheer.
In 1981, the Beerman became a pro cheerleader, hired first by the Seahawks, then the Mariners. The Portland Trail Blazers called him after that, and gigs followed with CBA teams and minor league hockey teams, ultimately ending with the Boise State football team four years ago.
You couldn't help but hear him -- the Beerman had two trademark calls during his vending days, most notably: "Freeze Your Teeth and Give Your Tongue a Sleigh Ride."
There was another poetic call:
"He who has something to sell,
"And goes and whispers in a well,
"Will never gather in the dollars,
"As he who climbs the stairs and hollers:
Scott once said: "I say it's OK to cheer, and it's better if we cheer together. It's as simple as that."
A 1967 graduate of Shoreline High School, where he was captain of the wrestling team, Scott attended Shoreline Community College before enlisting in the Air Force.
While tending bar at the Gaslight Tavern, he applied for a secondary job to sell beer at the Kingdome when it opened. That started his run as a "synergy facilitator," the Beerman's term for his orchestration of the deafening frenzy at the Kingdome.
"There were (thousands of) people who went to football games who felt like they knew Bill personally," said his best friend, Chuck Meyer, a Seattle attorney. "He talked to everyone, made them feel very important. Kids would go, 'Wow! My dad knows Bill the Beerman!'
"He led a life nobody could say was dull."
His biggest legacy was his participation in the 1995 Mariners' surge to the AL West title.
"He got everyone on a roll," Meyer said.
A year after the paid gigs stopped in Seattle, Bill the Beerman was spotted at Safeco Field leading cheers in the 16th inning of a Mariners' marathon against the Red Sox, which finally ended in the 19th inning on a Mike Cameron home run. Scott had planned to return to Safeco Field for Opening Day on Monday.
Fittingly, the man responsible for so much noise at Seahawks games was honored last December, raising the 12th Man flag, drawing the biggest cheer on a wet and windy night that saw the home team lose to the 49ers.
Before the game, he climbed on a table at Swannie's to lead cheers and something strange happened. When his back was turned, Meyer could not hear Bill the Beerman, who for years was so loud you could hear him from here to Portland.
"Bill's voice was so commanding," Meyer said. "When he said 1-2-3, you better do something."
In the past few years, Scott attended UW men's basketball games but never led cheers. Because of his declining health, he rarely stayed past halftime and left in a wheelchair the last time he went to Hec Ed.
Funeral arrangements are pending.