William B. Tanner

Year Honored:


Whenever Bill Tanner took on a project, he never went halfway. Throughout his many business endeavors, he always went all out. In 1974 he acquired an office building to house the William B. Tanner Company, at the time the world’s largest radio and television time-buying and placement service. This building just happened to have a racquetball court. So, Tanner decided to learn the game. Full-steam ahead, he hired two high-ranking pro players, Mike Seitman and Dave Bledsoe, as staff members of his company to give racquetball instruction. “When I decided to go into the sport,” Tanner says, “I made up my mind that I’d be the best player I possibly could.” And that is precisely what happened. In 1980 the Tanner dam broke. That year, he won the Tennessee state racquetball title in masters singles, the Tennessee State Doubles Championship, the Masters Singles Championship and Seniors Singles Championship in the United States Racquetball Association’s Regional Tournament, the Veterans Masters Racquetball Championship, and the masters singles title at the Jack Fulton Open in Memphis. Such a dominating year of competition earned Tanner the title of Co-Amateur Athlete of the Year from the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. And to think it was all because he had a racquetball court in his building. Who knows what would have happened if Tanner’s building had had a basketball court instead?

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