Longtime Oakland A’s public address announcer Roy Steele died on Thursday. The man known as the “Voice of God” worked at the Coliseum for nearly 40 years.
Steele began announcing for the A’s in 1968, their first year in Oakland. He kept that post for 38 seasons, through six World Series and an All-Star Game, finally stepping aside from full-time duty after 2005. During that span of time he missed only five games total, and carried a streak of 1,093 consecutive games worked from 1990-2004, according to this 2010 profile by Monte Poole in the East Bay Times. He continued in a part-time capacity through 2008.
The A’s said the following in a statement:
We mourn the loss of the “Voice of God,” Roy Steele, who passed away today in his home. As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball. Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans, We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.
Steele’s voice became a signature of the Coliseum over the years, reaching such an iconic status that he got his own bobblehead day in 2010. The only other non-uniformed team employees ever to receive that honor from the A’s are radio voice Bill King and former executive vice president MC Hammer.
To get to know Steele a bit better, here’s an interview segment with Brodie Brazil from 2005, aired on KICU 36:
In 2010 he visited the TV booth during a game (then age 76), and when asked if he’d had a favorite name to say he cited Geronimo Berroa. Anyone who remembers the ‘90s at the Coliseum will never be able to read the slugger’s name in anything other than Steele’s dynamic tone.
The reactions of other local media members help illustrate just how beloved Steele was in Oakland. Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle had this to say:
Roy Steele, the Voice of God, died today at his home in Auburn, just four days after his good friend Chester Farrow, the A’s longtime scoreboard operator. Someone is assembling a great press level in heaven.
Radio voice Ken Korach offered high praise:
Roy was almost a mystical figure. His voice [was] a big part of the Coliseum’s vibe. Think of the colorful characters. Bill King. Gave the place texture. Every day I think of a name and of Roy. Daaaaaaave Henderson, centerfield. I loved Roy. Tried to impersonate him. But only one Roy.
As Slusser noted, Steele’s passing comes just a few days after that of Chester Farrow, who was the Coliseum’s scoreboard operator for over a half-century beginning in 1969. As noted by John Hickey of Sports Illustrated, “when Steele threw out a ceremonial first pitch [in 2010], it was Farrow who caught it.”
For more on Steele’s life, including his background as a minister and how he learned to hone his craft of public speaking, check out Poole’s 2010 piece. But for many A’s fans, no further introduction is required — he was an unmistakable part of the Coliseum experience for generations. The Voice of God will not soon be forgotten.