When recalling Oakland Athletics moments at the Oakland Coliseum, fans can’t help but remember the booming baritone overhead announcements from “The Voice of God” that belonged to Public Address Announcer Roy Steele.
From the first game in 1968 all the way through 2005, despite ownership changes and the various stadium sponsorship changes, Steele was the Oakland Athletics PA voice at the Oakland Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball to the Bash Brothers to the Big 3 and Moneyball. Like Bob Shepherd of the Old Yankee Stadium, the omnipresent voice went with the facility – when you thought of one, the other was built-in.
Steele’s trek to the behind-the-mic assignment started when he was at the just opened Marine World-Africa USA, originally located in Redwood City, announcing the water ski acts. He had just moved back to the Bay Area which was perfect timing; there was a new ball club was arriving in Oakland at the “new” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Oakland Athletics Owner Chales Finley was in search of a public address announcer and A’s radio announcer was given the chore to locate one.
Steele, who had been an independent Baptist minister for 17 years, auditioned with Moore and got the job for the A’s Oakland debut on April 17, 1968 – where he sat sans a handful of games for the next four decades.
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The Voice of God worked over 3,000 Oakland Athletics baseball games, announcing in six World Series and an All-Star Game.
He missed only five games in 38 seasons until a throat ailment took him out of the booth in 2005 and brought in current PA Announcer Dick Callahan. Steele missed the entire 2006 season and just worked parts of the next two years before retiring.
Steele was so popular at the Coliseum, other Oakland sports franchises used him for their games including the Warriors in the 70s, Oakland Invaders of the USFL in the 80s, the ABA Oakland Oaks, and the Oakland Aces of World Team Tennis in 1985.
Nicknamed “The Voice of God” by Hall of Fame and former ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller, to fans like me, it feels like yesterday hearing the thunderous overhead resonating proclamation of “The batter, number nine, REG-GIE JACKSON, rightfield” or “Now pitching, number 43, Dennis ECK-ersley.”
In 2010 Roy Steele was brought back for a special day which included his own bobblehead giveaway and pregame ceremony where he threw out the first pitch. Steele still lives in Auburn, where he did during his Oakland Athletics tenure when he made the commute for home games.