The Baseball Hall of Fame has announced that the long-time voice of the Oakland A’s, Bill King, is the winner of the Ford C. Frisk Award for broadcasting excellence. King was the Voice of the A’s for 25 years from 1981 to 2005. In addition to calling baseball, King called NBA games and probably best known for calling the Raiders from 1966 to 1994 including all three of their Super Bowl Championships.
King began his career in World War II with the Armed Forces Radio Network and then called minor league baseball games in Illinois in 1948. He eventually moved to the Bay Area in the 1950’s and filled in calling the San Francisco Giants before mowing to the then-San Francisco Warriors full-time in 1962 staying with them as they moved to Oakland and remaining as their Voice until 1983. One of King’s claims to fame as Voice of the Warriors was being given a technical foul in 1968 for disagreeing with a call against the team and baiting referee Ed T. Rush.
As the Voice of the Raiders, King’s calls were used heavily on NFL Films highlights and one play which became known as the Holy Roller for a game-winning touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in 1978 is forever etched in pro football lore:
King stayed with the Raiders even when they moved to Los Angeles and would fly back and forth between Northern and Southern California until owner Al Davis relieved him of his duties in 1994.
King joined the A’s in 1981 and worked with another legendary Bay Area voice, Lon Simmons with whom he worked with the Giants. King joined the A’s right when manager Billy Martin brought “Billy Ball” to the Bay Area. He was also at the mic during the Bash Brothers era when Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire became stars and also called the 1989 World Series team.
In 2002, King was at the mic when the A’s won an American League record 20 consecutive wins:
His “Holy Toledo” exclamations became a signature throughout his career and fans became to expect hearing them whenever there was a big moment.
King passed away in 2005 following the A’s season and was paid tribute by the A’s, Raiders and Warriors.
[Baseball Hall of Fame/Photo courtesy Oakland A’s]