2020 PHOF Inductee

Bill Bell


Bill Bell


BORN: April 28, 1924 in Bradford, Pennsylvania

DIED: June 3, 2006 at age 82


  • High School, Spokane, Washington
  • BA Political Science, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
  • LL.D., Gonzaga University Law School, Spokane, Washington


Bill enlisted in the Army July 1943 at 18 years old and fought in World War II. As a Private First Class in the 304th Infantry his platoon landed in Southampton, England, late November 1943 and crossed the English Channel to Belgium. In April of 1944, in the Battle of the Bulge, he was wounded and received an honorable discharge in July 1945. He was a Purple Heart recipient.


Bill was one of the three original creators of the game of pickleball. In the summer of 1965 at the Pritchards’ property on Pleasant Beach, Bill Bell and Joel Pritchard looked for something for their gaggle of kids to do.

Bill had a hand in pickleball’s unique rules, making the game instantly fun and competitive. Though “The Kitchen,” and the double bounce rule, were exactly his brand of mischief, these unique touches also contributed to the game’s broad appeal.

From the beginning, Bill was an avid player, promoter and marketer of the game. When his work took him abroad, he was the first ambassador of the company called “Pickle-Ball Inc”, that had been formed by the three creators. Bill was involved in promoting, cajoling and building courts throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. Not even Singapore’s august, colonial icon, the Raffles Hotel, escaped Bill’s promotional flair—several tennis courts were reconfigured to accommodate interest in the new paddle sport. He delighted in pickleball’s popularity.


William L. Bell, Jr. Lawyer, political advisor and international businessman, Bill Bell started his professional career in Seattle. Active in local politics, he and Joel Pritchard, and their young families, became lifelong friends.

Athletic background – Despite war injuries, Bill was a successful college athlete, earning a spot in the 1948 Olympic Trials in the high hurdles.

Bill was the Managing Director of the Seattle World Trade Center and then stepped into the role of manager for Dan Evans in his successful Gubernatorial campaign in 1964. After which he left Seattle for New York as part of the Executive Board for INCO, the International Nickel Corporation. He then acted as Vice President for INCO in Southeast Asia and Australia, establishing one of the first industrial partnerships with the Republic of Indonesia. From 1974-1978 he was managing director of Faber Merlin in Hong Kong.

Bill left the private sector to work as counsel for The Hudson Institute and then The Center for Naval Analysis in 1982 where he remained until retirement in 2006.

Bill Bell playing with Joel Pritchard
Bill Bell Military Photo
Bill Bell with Barney McCallum and Joel Pritchard