King, who passed away at the age of 78 in 2005, was the leading national vote-getter in fan balloting for the Frick Award in both 2005 and 2006. Following his death, the A’s permanently named their Coliseum broadcast facilities the “Bill King Broadcast Booth” after the team’s revered former voice—a voice that also figured prominently in last year’s Moneyball movie that chronicled the A’s remarkable 20-game winning streak of 2002.
On Sept. 10, the top 40 broadcasters, as selected by the fans during the first three-week period, will advance to a final round of fan consideration for three additional weeks until Sept. 28. The top three fan selections will be announced as part of the 10-name ballot that will be named Oct. 9. Fans are permitted to vote once per day through a Facebook account. The 2013 Frick Award winner will be selected by a 20-member electorate, with the winner to be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Dec. 3-5.
King broadcasted A’s 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 concluding with the Giambi and Big Three (Hudson, Mulder and Zito) years that reaped four consecutive playoff appearances from 2000-03. Over the years, King called so many great moments in baseball history, ranging from Rickey Henderson’s record-setting single season and career stolen bases, to Kirk Gibson’s improbable World Series home run off Dennis Eckersley, to Dave Stewart’s MVP performance in the 1989 World Series, to the A’s record-breaking 20-game winning streak in 2002.
King’s passion for painting a visual account of the action made his broadcasting style an art form. His trademark exclamatory phrase, “Holy Toledo,” has been imitated and cherished by Bay Area sports fans for many decades.
Perhaps the most telling story about King’s worthiness for the Hall of Fame was chronicled by long-time Oakland Tribune columnist Carl Steward, who in 2005 wrote: “King was in the audience two years ago at Cooperstown when his longtime broadcasting pal, Lon Simmons, received this lasting honor. Several times that weekend, Simmons noted that King would have been a more worthy selection than himself and urged King’s prompt nomination and receptions for the award. Time to second the motion…en masse.”
Ken Korach, the current voice of A’s baseball, offered even stronger praise: “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.”
Jon Miller, another former A’s broadcaster who was named the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award winner for his many years of local and national baseball announcing, is another big fan of King’s on-air wizardry.
“He’s the Tony Bennett of broadcasters,” said the former long-time ESPN announcer. “They say Tony Bennett is the entertainer’s entertainer. Bill is the broadcaster’s broadcaster.”
Simmons, who has worked with Hall of Famers Russ Hodges and Miller during various Giants’ seasons, concludes with these glowing words about his former A’s broadcast partner:
“I’ve voted Bill No. 1 on every ballot I’ve had. When you think of play-by-play, you have to think of Bill King as one of the best there ever was. He certainly has all the qualifications.”
Presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting, the Ford C. Frick Award is given to an active or retired broadcaster with a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a team, network, or a combination of the two.