Let’s Deliver the King to His Proper Throne!
Bill King was a bigger-than-life
character who defied description.
However, his description of a
sporting event was as unique and brilliant as the man himself. Many of my friends can still recount, word
for word, where they were the first time they heard that crackling voice on the
air. Whether it was the Warriors,
Raiders or A’s, games tended to come to life
when “The King” was at the mic.
Bill was a voracious student–name me another sports broadcaster fully
versed in Russian literature?–and someone who prepared meticulously for each
game. His knowledge, his mastery of the
language, his voice inflection and articulation, and his ability to capture the
big moment was unparalled in the history of Bay Area sportscasting. So was his passion, his quick wit and
perhaps most of all, his humanity. Then
add his eccentricity, not to mention his long hair, goatee and mustache, and
this was a man ideally suited for the eclectic and creative tastes of Northern Californians.
I can remember listening to Gary Radnich, himself a local icon for nearly three decades at
KRON-TV (Ch. 4) and KNBR Radio, at some time this past year on his morning
radio show, claiming that Bill King might very well be the greatest and most
influential person in Bay Area broadcasting history. Not just sport broadcasting, but all categories of broadcasting in this
large and sophisticated market. Now
think about that for a minute. That
covers everyone from news anchors, to FM disc jockeys, to such Hall of Fame
sports announcers as Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Jon Miller.
quarter century as the voice of Oakland A’s baseball (1981-2005), Bill became
synonymous with baseball history, whether it be Rickey Henderson’s stolen base exploits, the Bash Brothers Era that
included three straight World Series appearances, or the Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada
MVP seasons and Big Three pitchers of the last decade. And if you were an A’s fan–or even just a Bay
Area sports fan–you lived for that
moment when something in a game required King’s most cherished trademark: “Hoooooly Toleeeedo!”
With all this being said, my
primary reason to take you down memory lane is because each of us has the rare
opportunity to pay tribute to the great Bill King this month. Beginning today and continuing through the
end of September, on-line balloting begins on the National Baseball Hall of
Fame and Museum’s Facebook site for the 2011 Ford C. Frick Award. You can vote for King today and every day
through September 30 on the site (www.facebook.com/baseballhall)
and the top three fan selections from votes tallied will appear on the final
10-name ballot for the award. The 2010
Frick Award winner will be selected by a 20-member electorate, with the winner
to be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in December.
When Bill passed away suddenly in 2005, the
groundswell of fan support for voting him into the Hall of Fame was remarkable. He won the online voting portion of the
process by a landslide in both 2005 and 2006.
While I’m sure the Committee took notice, they chose other worthy
candidates for the award those years.
Interest understandably waned as time passed, but now we want to
rekindle that enthusiasm and finally elevate The King to his rightful place in
the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, it’s on
you and me. Let’s do it, and let’s do it
starting today! Vote early and vote often.