Saturday, July 29, 2017

Welcome to the Hall of Fame

This is a re-post from last year when I heard that Bill King had been selected to enter the broadcasting wing of the baseball Hall of Fame.   But today's the actual day so I figured, what the hell?  The man was one of my mentors... and idols. 

It is a well-deserved honor. Only wish it wasn’t posthumous. He died in 2005 after being a mainstay in the Northern California sports scene. He broadcast for the A’s and Giants, also was the Voice of the Raiders and the Warriors.

King was maybe the most articulate play-by-play man in the business. His use of vocabulary and descriptive terms were extraordinary. And it seemed effortless. He always had just the right word, just the right adjective right there at his fingertips.  At some point he must've swallowed a dictionary.

He also could call an exciting play in a way that was positively electrifying. I know he received this honor for baseball, but for money Bill King was the best radio football announcer of all-time. That’s right. ALL-TIME. His Raider calls were thrilling. Here’s just one example:

Bill King was truly an original. He sported a beard and with deep-set eyes and looked like the devil. But a sweeter, kinder, more generous man you’d never find. I’m honored to say he was one of my mentors. When I was learning to broadcast baseball he critiqued several of my tapes. I learned a lot from him. And I’m sure I’m just one of many.

He was also very eccentric. He lived on a houseboat in Sausalito. He only drove beat up used cars. When one would conk out he’d just buy another. He was a history buff and an opera buff. When he did television sports he wore a suit jacket, tie, and (out of camera range) shorts and flip-flops.

Bay Area sports fans have long cherished Bill King. So glad that the baseball world has finally recognized his contribution as well.

Ken Korach, who was Bill’s partner and is now the Voice of the A’s, wrote a terrific and loving book about Bill. I recommend it for anyone interested in reading about a larger-than-life personality and a time in professional sports when personalities, not generic-sounding interchangeable robots, were valued. Congratulations to Bill King. Only wish he were around to give the acceptance speech.  I'm sure it would be so eloquent you wouldn't think it was a sportscaster.  


GM said...

Holy Toledo!

Michael said...

If anything, being so good has kept him from being honored. He was great in three sports, and baseball's is the first hall of fame to honor him. I think the basketball people think of him as doing baseball and football, and so on. A shame--he deserves every honor imaginable.

Ken Korach is a friend of mine, too, and the book is terrific.

tvconfidential said...


As good as King was calling football, he was even better at basketball. I grew up following the Warriors in the early '70s, just before they won the championship in 1975, and listened to them religiously up through the Bernard King era of the early 1980s. Bill King, to me, remains the best at basketball play by play, plus his tirades at the officials were epic listening. Hank Greenwald also has some great stories about him in his book.

LouOCNY said...

I live on the East Coast, but those Raiders were always cooler than the Jets and Giants, and King was as much a part of the Raiders as The Snake, Tooz and The Mad Stork....Holy Toledo indeed...

BJWanlund said...

Been waiting for Vin Scully, Ron Santo, Jack Brickhouse, Skip Caray (who now would be a posthumous honoree) and Chip Caray to get their rightful places in Cooperstown for awhile. I also just visited Cooperstown for the very first (but absolutely not the last) time a couple weeks ago.

Michael said...

B.J., Scully and Brickhouse are there--they received the Frick Award in 1982 and 1983, respectively--they were honored early in the process.

Prairie Perspective said...

He does! Such a great line in his coverage of the Holy Roller. As a K.C. Chiefs fan, I hated the damn cheating Raiders but had to admire the excellence of Bill King. He is in the inner circle of great announcers.

Matt said...

It's amazing how The Raiders have been a part of some of the best known (and best named) games in history:

-The Heidi Bowl
-The Immaculate Reception
-The Sea of Hands
-Ghost to the Post
-The Holy Roller
-The Tuck Rule/Snow Bowl

Roger Owen Green said...

An Isotope great catch: