Bay Area, CA | Yesterday was a great day for Oakland Athletics baseball. While it ended with a Rajai Davis walk-off blast and Bob Melvin's 1000th career victory, it began with the induction of Oakland's iconic radio voice, Bill King, into the Ford C. Frick wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. King entered the hall posthumously, after passing in 2005 by complications from hip surgery. King's moving induction speech (transcript here) was delivered by his stepdaughter, Kathleen Lowenthal. It's worth the read.
As the voice of the A's for 25 years, Bill King was an Oakland institution. Known for many things, like his handlebar mustache or his signature call of "Holy Toledo!", fans also loved him for broadcasting each of Oakland's three franchises. During each team's best years it was likely Bill King's voice on the other end of the radio. It turns out that calling A's games was King's real passion. In the end, Lowenthal describes baseball as his true love, which is why honoring King in Cooperstown first is most fitting.
As the voice of the Warriors from 1962-83, Lowenthal made a point to remind/inform attendees of the time King received a technical foul for using an expletive on-air in disagreement with a call by the referee. As the voice of the Raiders from 1966-92, King called historic plays for the Raiders that have been featured on highlight reels/NFL Films. You can hear just a few of King's famous calls across Oakland's three franchises here.
Bay Area fans have been spoiled by top-flight broadcasters. This list includes names like Lon Simmons, Jon Miller, Greg Papa, Ken Korach, and Tim Roye. King stands alone atop this Mt. Rushmore of broadcasting legends for his versatility and mastery of calling the Oakland A's, Oakland/LA Raiders, and Golden State Warriors. Regardless of your sport of choice, Bill King was among the best play-by-play voices you'd ever heard.
Lowenthal was right about two things. As a kid in the 80s, I was one of the many that listened to King call games on my handheld radio as I watched the game live from the old bleachers. And when we watched from home, my dad muted the television and we could listen to the voices of King, Korach, and Ray Fosse. A tradition I continued into adulthood. Yesterday was a long time coming for this A's fan.