As a child he attended St. Albert the Great Elementary School in Louisville. He then went on to attend Ballard High School. He spent his freshman year at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. In 1980, he received a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he was the sports editor for the school's paper, the Alestle. Before joining the Los Angeles Times, he worked as a reporter in Fort Lauderdale and Seattle. After joining the LAT, he mainly covered the Los Angeles Dodgers. He became a columnist in 1996.
Plaschke is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Professional Football Writers Association. He is also a regular panel member of ESPN's sports-themed debate show, Around the Horn. Fellow panelist and Denver Post columnist and author Woody Paige often refers to him as "Reverend Bill."
Plaschke achieved controversy as a correspondent for the LA Times at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics for a column that accused U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas of a lack of patriotism for failing to smile and place her hand over her heart during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem; the column was in turn described as "a stunning display of superfluous concern-trolling," "rife with thinly-veiled racism and sexism" and attracted further widespread criticism. Douglas later tearfully apologized at a press conference even though many regarded the criticism as unfair and motivated by her race, gender and age; Plaschke, who had systematically criticized Douglas' demeanor during the games, stayed silent on the controversy.
- Plaschke, Bill. "LA Times Bio". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- "Athlete & Celebrity Marketing - Bill Plaschke". Premiere Athlete & Celebrity. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
- FitzGerald, Tom (March 10, 2006). "Should Bonds be in the Hall of Fame?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- "Bill Plaschke - Olympics blog". Los Angeles Times. June 3, 2008. Archived from the original on June 28, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- Bill Plaschke at the Internet Movie Database
- Plaschke, Bill. "Gymnast Gabby Douglas resurrects the debate over how to act during the national anthem". Los Angeles Times.
- Schuman, Rebecca (August 17, 2016). "Why Isn't Gabby Douglas Smiling?". Slate.
- Gibbs, Lindsay (August 15, 2016). "Leave Gabby Douglas Alone". ThinkProgress.
- Schilling, Dave (August 11, 2016). "Gabby Douglas's lesson from the US national anthem outcry: conform or else". The Guardian.
- "Gabby Douglas Apologizes After National Anthem Controversy". August 10, 2016.
- Baffoe, Tim. "Baffoe: The Criticism Of Gabby Douglas Is Deeply American".
- Plaschke, Bill. "U.S. women gymnasts are not only giants, they are golden". Los Angeles Times.