NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Legendary A’s radio announcer Bill King was selected as the 2017 Ford C. Frick award winner, earning him induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The announcement came Wednesday morning at the winter meetings, and surely the news will be greeted enthusastically by legions of fans who identify King’s voice with so many of the Bay Area’s unforgettable sports moments.
King, who passed away in 2005, won the award in his sixth time as a finalist. Current A’s play-by-play man Ken Korach, who called games alongside King and wrote a book about his career and colorful personality, lobbied hard for his induction, even reaching out individually to Frick voters before this year’s election. Contacted Wednesday, Korach's voice cracked with emotion as he searched for words to describe his feelings.
“Honestly, I’m in tears. I really am,” Korach said. “It’s incredible. I’m just overwhelmed with joy, for his family, for his fans. What Bill meant to A’s fans and fans of the Bay Area in general is the reason that he’s in.”
King was passed over numerous times in previous Frick elections, with the assumed thought being that King’s terrific versatility behind the mic actually worked against him.
Because he was so well-known and identified with as a Raiders and Warriors announcer as well as A’s, some never viewed King as a pure baseball man. But baseball was nearest to King’s heart according to Korach, who plans to travel to Cooperstown with his wife Denise for King’s induction July 29.
“It was his first love, the game he enjoyed broadcasting the most.”
King’s call of the Raiders’ zany “Holy Roller” victory over the Chargers in 1978 is a staple of vintage NFL Films footage. He described the scene for Warriors fans as the team won its first NBA title in the Bay Area in 1975. And his trademark “Holy Toledo!” marked so many A’s victories over the years.
The other seven finalists for the Frick award were Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow, Gary Cohen, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin and Dewayne Staats.
“Bill King’s enthusiasm for every game he called carried through the airwaves and into the hearts of fans throughout Northern California for 25 incredible years with the Oakland Athletics,” said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idleson. “From his distinctive word choices in describing the action to his unabashed love of Oakland and the Bay Area, King crafted a career that became synonymous with the action at the Oakland Coliseum and throughout the sports world.”