I'm sorry that I didn't write more when I found out about Bill King's passing. I was literally in shock to find out that the voice of the A's was gone. I also had to shed a tear and get my thoughts together before writing about someone so very special to all A's fans.
What makes a person significant or his passing an occasion for mourning for an entire sport, broadcasting profession and a region? It's simple. The person was there with you during meaningful moments. Bill King was there for so many meaningful moments. His voice was artful. His vocabulary and insight were divine. His humor was priceless.
Bill King was Oakland A's baseball. King is a legend and will always be remembered as such. His trademarked "Holy Toledo!" and Hawaiian shirts were as much a part of him as his willingness to speak his mind. Anyone who listened to King knew that he was never shy about sharing his thoughts on such abominations as interleague play or a trip to Texas in August in September. As a matter of fact, he avoided those things altogether in his later tenure with the A's. If an A's team wasn't performing on the field, King never hesitated to make a joke or call them on it.
King doesn't have the national recognition of a Vin Scully or Harry Caray or even Jack Buck. But he should. And you want to know why? He was an artist who prepared daily for every game as though it was his first. This is a man who was calling A's games since the early 80s. Yet, he still had the love for the game and love for what he did.
A's radio broadcasts are in great hands with Ken Korach taking over for King, but I will miss King calling ninth inning walkoff home runs. He was there for so much time. 2006 is shaping up to be a great year for the Oakland Athletics. But something about it will inevitably feel empty without the soul of the A's.
Korach, the man who will take over the A's booth for King, had the most poignant quote:
And you touched all our lives in a way that means you will truly live on forever. You became a part of our families through the radio. I remember one of the early times in my daughter's life when she was taking a bath, and she hated baths at the time. She would cry incessantly. I turned on an A's game on the radio and she calmed down immediately. I don't remember what game or day it was, but that King's voice somehow soothed her. It became a treasured memory for me.
Take care, Bill. We already miss you.
Feel free to share any stories you remember about Bill King.