If you’ve ever listened to sports in the East Bay then you likely know the voice of legendary broadcaster, Bill King, who is this year’s recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
His name is synonymous with Bay Area sports. A rare three sport broadcaster, King called Championships for the Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors and the Oakland A’s.
Wednesday his name was finally, and it had been a long time coming, announced as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for “major contributions” to the game of baseball.
King passed away in 2005 and is receiving this award posthumously. He was still working as the radio voice of the A’s at the time. He was 78.
Thankfully this year King will now be forever immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Scribes and Mikemen” exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.
King began his career in 1958 when the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco. When the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to the East Bay in 1962 he took on that job.
He was with the Warriors until 1983 and is still the only broadcaster to ever be charged with an infraction during a game. He used an expletive to describe one of the referees (or so the story goes).
During that time he also worked for the Raiders from 1966 until 1992, where he made many memorable calls.
King joined the A’s in 1981 where he stayed through the “Billyball,” the “Bash Brothers” and the “Moneyball” eras.
His two most famous baseball calls were Rickey Henderson‘s record-setting stolen base, and King also called the pinch-hit walk-off home run, hit by Scott Hatteberg, to win the A’s historic 20th straight game during their winning streak in 2002. It went like this,
“There’s a high drive, it’s way back, dead centerfield, that one is gone and it’s 20 consecutive victories for the Oakland Athletics, on an unbelievable night where they lost an 11-0 lead and now they win it.
Hatteberg is mobbed at home plate, the crowd comes back to insane life. Crazy. Just plain crazy. How do you explain it? In 103 years of American League baseball the Athletics have done what no one else has before. They have won 20 consecutive games. Holy Toledo!”
Some were afraid King might be forgotten, or overlooked, for the award after his passing, after all he had received a nomination seven times prior to actually winning the award this year. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who was a good friend of King’s, had this to say,
“When I went into the Hall with (King’s broadcast partner) Lon Simmons, I thought Bill would be there before long, but I was starting to think that he would be forgotten. Ken Korach really pushed this, so a lot of credit to him.”
Korach, another close friend of King and the A’s play-by-play announcer, recently wrote a book on his experiences with his friend and colleague, Lessons from Bill King; Renaissance Man of the Mic, and pushed to help get King the votes he needed to finally win.
King is more than deserving of this award. It was his destiny, it’s such a shame that he can’t be here with us to celebrate and honor his exemplary accomplishments.