A broadcast legend, my childhood broadcast idol, and also one of the nicest celebrities I have ever had a chance to meet, Lon Simmons has passed away at age 91. Lon is best known to A's fans as part of the legendary team of Simmons and Bill King that called A's games from 1981 until Lon's retirement after the 1995 season.
Some of my favorite "Lonisms" from A's games of that era...
- Bill King was often confounded by the presence of both Carney Lansford and Rick Langford on the team, and once after getting his tongue tied said, "Carney Langfor -- I mean Lansford. Aah!!! I always get 'Lansford' and 'Langford' mixed up!" To which Lon replied, "I know how you feel. I have the same problem with 'Griffin' and 'Bochte.'"
- After a foul tip got a piece of the catcher, Lon noted that, "He's down on one knee being looked at by the trainer, but it looks like he'll be all right ... as soon as he stops bleeding and throwing up."
- Upon announcing that Angels' reliever Mark Clear was warming up in the bullpen, Lon paused a moment and then added, "On a forever day, you can see Clear."
- Then there was the long would-be homerun that was knocked down by the wind, producing a call from Lon of "That ball is hit way back, way back, way back, tell it ... hello! It's off the top of the wall..."
On a personal note, a cassette tape sits in my dresser drawer of a 5-minute half inning I had the honor of broadcasting with Lon when he kindly accepted my request to be a guest on one of my spring training broadcasts back in 1988. He did it, I am absolutely sure, solely because he knew how much it would mean to me, as a young broadcaster, to have him on. It was a quick 1-2-3 inning and I didn't have the nerve to ask him to stay on for another half inning.
Please use this post to find your own way to "tell him goodbye".