"Holy Toledo!"

July 29, 2017

Bill King gets Cooperstown coronation: ‘This is a Holy Toledo moment’

Bill King, the greatest announcer in my lifetime, is finally being honored this weekend by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Most of us grew up listening to Bill, he was the voice of our youth.

He described most of the greatest sports moments of my life. I met him once, a moment I will never forget (a story for another day). His unique style and unabashed tirades were what made him legendary.

He could paint you a verbal picture that was forever etched in your mind.

I just wish he was here to enjoy this special moment.

Bill King
Hall of Fame
Class of 2017
Holy Toledo!

(Here is an article about Bill written by Dan Brown that I thought you might enjoy.)

By Daniel Brown
Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: July 29, 2017

Holy Cooperstown!

During a sun-splashed afternoon on baseball’s sacred ground, Bay Area broadcasting favorite Bill King finally got his due.

“I think this is a Holy Toledo moment,” his stepdaughter, Kathleen Lowenthal said Saturday, using her stepfather’s signature call in accepting the Baseball Hall of Fame’s top broadcasting honor. “It is for me.”

King spent 25 years captivating A’s fans with rousing calls that ranged from Rickey Henderson’s stolen base records through the “Moneyball” 20-game winning streak. King died in 2005, but colleagues such as longtime radio partner Ken Korach campaigned relentlessly for him to be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award.

The work paid off Saturday at Doubleday Field. With Korach smiling in the crowd and seated next to Hank Greenwald, who teamed with King on Warriors broadcasts, Lowenthal saluted the sustained effort it took to end the wait.

“Bill never sought out awards of any kind but he was only human and he certainly enjoyed the accolades,” Lowenthal said her speech. (The quotes in this story came from the live stream of the ceremony still available at the Hall of Fame’s Facebook page.)

“But never in a million years did he believe he would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When people would bring it up, he would brush it aside. Fans and friends and colleagues brought it up all the time — even I did. Bill loved broadcasting. He just really loved talking to you.”

King became a fixture in Bay Area sports starting in the late 1950s, when he was hired by KSFO as a fill-in broadcaster on Giants games — subbing for Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges, his fellow future Frick winners.

The Warriors hired him in 1962 and the King added Raiders play-by-play to his duties in 1966. From then on, it was as if his erudite phrasing and emotional crescendos were always floating somewhere through the Bay Area air.

Joe Morgan, the baseball Hall of Famer who grew up in Oakland, said as much Saturday before presenting the Frick Award to Lowenthal.

“Bill King, in my mind was truly a man for all seasons,” Morgan said. “Because he taught me how to listen to Warriors basketball, A’s baseball and the Oakland Raiders. This is a great honor for me.”

Lowenthal, whose mother, Nancy Stephens, was with King for 44 years, noted that King’s varied sports talents represented only a fraction of his staggering breadth of knowledge.

She said King loved sailing, ballet, opera, jazz and fine arts. He grew so interested in Russian history that he learned the language, too.

“All of his varied interests, his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and his voluminous vocabulary made him the broadcaster he was,” Lowenthal said.

MLB Network broadcaster Matt Vasgersian, who grew up in Moraga, narrated a video introducing King’s career to the audience, calling him “one of the most influential figures in the history of sports broadcasting. … It was fitting for a man who enjoyed opera and ballet to have his own voice referred to as ‘poetry on the radio.’”

Vasgersian noted that there are many who think King did his best work on football … and even more who think he was best at basketball.

But baseball is the first sports Hall of Fame to honor King — which would have been fine by him, Lowenthal said. She said baseball was his “first love.”

She also recalled what it was like going to A’s games in person being surprised to see so many fans with ear buds connected to their transistor radios.

“Fans could not get enough of Bill,” Lowenthal said. “Even though they were at the game, they still wanted to hear what Bill had to say about what they were seeing.

“Bill had a really special relationship with his audience. He told me one time that he would have one person in mind when he was broadcasting. And I think that’s why his broadcasts came across so personal — as if he was talking to you.”

King, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame just once, in 2004, when A’s closer Dennis Eckersley and Bill’s former A’s broadcast partner Lon Simmons were both honored. Lowenthal said he remained “exhilarated” by that visit until the day he died.

Now, King will be part of the place forever.

“And I really wish he could walk out of that Iowa cornfield right now,” Lowenthal said, “and see for himself the tremendous respect and fondness his fans and colleagues still hold for him today.”

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2 Comments »

  1. Bill King,in my opinion was the best broadcaster to ever call major sports in the Bay Area,it’s hard to imagine it took
    So very long for him to be voted into the Hall.Actually,the way I see it,he should have been voted into all three major
    Bay Area Sports at the same time.I have recordings of him doing Raider Games, the 1975 Warriors Playoffs,I can still see the games as he called them so clear that you could see in HD Radio 1975. Rest well Mr. KING.W

    Comment by Ira W. Rooks — July 29, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

  2. Agree completely Ira, thanks for the comment. I have a decent collection of Bill King radio broadcasts available if you ever need a dose of Bill. “HD Radio”, I like that line, well done sir.

    Comment by Bill — July 30, 2017 @ 4:35 am


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