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Remembering Bill King

Remembering Bill King

Bill King is the former legendary voice of the Oakland Athletics, who passed away in 2005. King broadcasted Athletics games for 25 seasons and his trademark exclamatory phrase, "Holy Toledo," became a familiar part of the Bay Area sports scene.

Bill King is the former legendary voice of the Oakland Athletics. King, who passed away at age 78 in 2005, broadcast Athletics games for 25 seasons, beginning with the "Billy Ball" teams of the early 1980's, continuing with the "Bash Brothers" era that saw the A's make three consecutive World Series appearances from 1988-90 and completing his tenure with the talented Oakland clubs that earned four consecutive playoff berths (2000-03) earlier this decade.

With the likes of network announcers Al Michaels, John Madden and Jon Miller counted among his great admirers, King was that rare play-by-play voice for three major sports franchises in the same market, spending 27 years with the Raiders, 25 with the A's and 21 with the Warriors.

Miller, the long-time ESPN announcer, once said about King, "He's the Tony Bennett of broadcasters. They say Tony Bennett is the entertainer's entertainer. Bill is the broadcaster's broadcaster."

King's passion for painting a visual account of the action made his broadcasting style an art form. His trademark exclamatory phrase, "Holy Toledo," became a familiar part of the Bay Area sports scene for more than 40 years.


Bill King is a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award

Bill King emerged as a top fan selection to be one of 10 finalists for the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award. The award is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The winner of the 2014 Frick Award will be announced on December 11 at the Baseball Winter Meetings and will be honored during the July 26 Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 in Cooperstown.

Read more about Bill King in Ken Korach's book, Holy Toledo - Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic. Korach is the voice of the Oakland A's since 2006 and King's broadcast partner from 1996 through 2005.

Memorable Bill King Calls
• King calls Henderson's 939th stolen base: Listen
• King call's Hatteberg's walk-off home run: Listen
• King calls Stewart's no-hitter against the Jays: Listen

Notable Quotes Remembering Bill King
“Bill was the greatest sportscaster this country has ever produced. The depth of knowledge, the passion, the crisp description, the attention to detail, the command of the language-Bill was a master, like a Mozart or a Rembrandt behind a microphone.”
- Ken Korach, Play-by-by Announcer, Oakland A's
“Frankly, to call him a renaissance man does more justice to the Renaissance than it does to him. He was a character because he had character, not because he developed one for career reasons.”
- Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area
“Nobody has even been able to rise to an exciting moment and bring excitement into the sound of their voice like Bill. It's not just the shouting; it's the theatrical flair that he brings to it. Sometimes in exciting games, I find myself trying to do Bill.”
- Jon Miller, ESPN and San Francisco Giants
“Bill is without a doubt the best radio play-by-play announcer I have ever heard in all of sports. His energy, his preparation, his thoroughness, his word choice-he is without peer. He makes you come alive in a big moment, but he fills in all the in-between moments with interesting material. The man is a radio genius. Most guys are not as good as their reputations, but Bill has never let me down. Every broadcast is a pure joy.”
- Greg Papa, Bay Area Sports Announcer
“Yet baseball, according to The Voice himself, was what he enjoyed most. The Voice spent the past 25 years articulating A's baseball with a sophistication and intensity surely unmatched in Bay Area sports history and almost certainly unsurpassed anywhere, ever.”
- Monte Poole, Bay Area News Group
“There's long been talk that King was a hall of fame broadcaster, but the problem has been in deciding which sport should honor him. I have a solution: Put him in all three. He deserves it.”
- Glenn Dickey, Bay Area Sports Columnist
“He was a great broadcaster when there were great broadcasters all over the place, and when they weren't called broadcasters at all but announcers.”
- Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area
“Walking away from a Bill King broadcast, one never felt deprived, as if something was missed. Bill filled in the blanks and he did it with verbal gymnastics that would have won him Olympic gold every four years if such an activity was a sport.”
- Bob Padecky, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
“He's the Tony Bennett of broadcasters. They say Tony Bennett is the entertainer's entertainer. Bill is the broadcaster's broadcaster.”
- Jon Miller, San Francisco Giants and 2010 Ford C. Frick Award Winner
“King is in no hall of fame, but all who've ever heard him agree he should be.”
- Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle
“He was arguably the most recognizable voice in the history of Bay Area broadcasting.”
- Michael Crowley, President, Oakland A's
“The one thing I regret is that he passed before he got a chance to get into the baseball Hall of Fame.”
- Lon Simmons, Former Play-by-Play Voice of San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's and 2004 Ford C. Frick Award Winner
“He had hundred memorable calls, maybe even a thousand. He did more than 10,000 games in his time, and because he spoke quickly yet clearly, he had time for every one of them. He simply had chops you don't see or hear anymore, and because so much of his work wasn't saved, it can't be re-created and made a required class in every university with a broadcasting major.”
- Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area
“He brought an immense amount of passion and dedication to every broadcast and touched so many people. They remember certain times in their lives because of him. For over 50 years, he was a constant in people's lives.”
- Ken Korach, Play-by-Play Announcer, Oakland Athletics
“He has been a mentor, an idol and a friend. There is an intensity that he brings to the broadcast. It comes through that he really cares about what he does. And he's the only guy I know that could flip a piece of popcorn in the air and catch it in his mouth while doing a broadcast.”
- Hank Greenwald, former Play-by-Play Announcer of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics
“There is only one thing to say about King's place in Bay Area broadcasting-Holy Toledo!!!”
- San Francisco Chronicle, Op Ed Page
“Some will say that Bill King was the greatest sportscaster in Bay Area history. Here's what I know: He was the greatest individual I ever met in sports.”
- Bud Geracie, Bay Area News Group
“The essence of radio broadcasting is to be able to create the word picture, because when you are sitting at home, that's all you have. His descriptions were so vivid and colorful that perhaps in your mind you could picture what was going on better than if you were there.”
- Hank Greenwald, former Play-by-Play Announcer of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics
“He was probably the best I've ever heard at describing a sporting event, ever, on the radio. He was so adept at tall three sports. There was so much information packed into his description. And it wasn't about him, it was about the game. He had a tremendous amount of respect for the responsibility he had.”
- Sandy Alderson, General Manager, New York Mets and former Oakland A's President and General Manager
“For those faced with a choice-listening to Bill on the radio or turning on the television to watch the game-the decision was easy. Listen to Bill. You'd have a more complete and fulfilling experience. Television can make a viewer lazy. Bill King? Better pay attention because this train will leave without you.”
- Bob Padecky, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
“One night after a game in Chicago at old Comiskey Park, a small group of us was sitting at the hotel bar. 'Tomorrow,' Bill said 'we see Grant Wood.' 'Righty or lefty?' I inquired with the innocence of a 20-something sports nut. The next morning, Bill walked me up Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute of Chicago to see 'American Gothic,' painted by Grant Wood.”
- Bud Geracie, Bay Area News Group
“Bill was a great partner. He cared deeply about the broadcasts and was very serious about his work, but he never saw himself as more important than the game. He loved the A's. He hated to see the team lose and he got emotional when they won, but he never became a homer.”
- Ken Korach, Play-by-Play Announcer, Oakland Athletics
“Bill was a purist. An NBA road trip should always go to New York and Boston-not to Charlotte or Miami. Ballpark songs between innings should be on an organ-not on drums and a guitar and shattering the ear drums.”
- Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner
“Alas, he was, like the Golden Gate Bridge, a treasure all ours. To be dispensed in portions but too magnificent to share.”
- Monte Poole, Bay Area News Group