HOLY TOLEDO! LESSONS FROM BILL KING: RENAISSANCE MAN of THE MIC
Holy Toledo! Nobody could ever say it like Bill King! Nobody!
The life and times of Bill King … a trip down memory lane … unlike any other … a great man who transcended sports … greatly … and life, too. So many pictures … so many memories.
It’s funny how things come full circle. Oakland A’s Announcer, Ken Korach, in his childhood grew up in Southern California. He had his share of broadcast heroes right there: Vin Scully, Chick Hearn, Dick Enberg, three of the best ever. And, yet, there was one in faraway Northern California, Ken would listen to, never missing: Bill King.
If you were to consider the best announcers of all-time, Vin, Chick and Dick would be in at the top of that short list. So, too, would be Bill King. One the very best of them all. Basketball (with the Warriors), Bill and Chick (with the Lakers) were the all-time best. Football (with the Raiders), there was no one better. Baseball (with the A’s), the broadcast team of Bill and Lon Simmons, couldn’t be beat. For thirty years, Ken listened to his hero, Bill King. And then in 1995, Ken was hired by the A’s and would be working together in the same booth, at home and on the road, with his life-long hero, Bill King.
He was indeed a real-life hero of Ken’s and also a great influence. They worked ten years together – Bill was always great to him and made him feel comfortable, on and off the air. There was humility, never an ounce of standoffishness, as some might have been or might be. Not Bill, he could not have been kinder or more supportive.
“During these ten years, he was the world to me. He was a wonderful friend. We had a great friendship and a great broadcast partnership.”
In addition to Bill’s being perhaps the best announcer of all time, there was so much more in so many ways. He really was ‘the most interesting man in the world’.
After the passing of Bill, Ken felt compelled to write this book about him and his life lessons. He had had such an amazing life, his story needed to be told. Ken interviewed 55-60 people for the book. Each one had their own many stories, and they all wanted to share. Bill was so very special to each and every one. Bill was interwoven with so many great athletes and special moments throughout all sports history, for nearly half a century. And they all would have these many special memories with and about Bill that they wanted to contribute about this very special man in each and everyone’s life.
Ken also expressed his “big thanks” as well to his publisher, Steve Kettman of Wellstone Books, and the book’s chief editor, Pete Danko. As was the case here for Ken, he said he could not have done it without them. Indeed, it’s more than a great true life story. And for this book, we are all indeed truly grateful.
And there was more, so much more about Bill King. He really was such a Renaissance Man. For example, he loved Russian history and Russian culture. He even learned how to speak Russian. The former Warrior, Tom Meschery, was Russian. They became close friends. In fact, Tom referred to Bill as the brother he never had.
Bill loved the ballet and the opera, he would often go and was also a supporter. In addition, he loved sailing. He was a wonderful sailor. He and his wife, Nancy, would always have their boat docked in Sausalito and they would love taking it out. And, then, Bill was also a wonderful painter – he was an IMPRESSIONIST and a truly great painter. One of his paintings adorns the back of the book – it is so beautiful – wait to you see it. There is a website posted here. The link to it is highlighted where you can enjoy Bill’s paintings.
Bill loved everything – he immersed himself into everything. Indeed, he was very passionate about everything. He would read the paper and was so into it. The same was true with eating dinner. He had his eating habits – he was really into it and would enjoy it thoroughly. He had his own restaurant guide, all the cities we would visit, and all the restaurants he loved going to. So many people would want to go out and have dinner with him … it was an experience and always so very entertaining and enjoyable. What’s more, we were able to hear first-hand all these amazing stories … about these amazing people and amazing games … that only he knew so intimately and as only he could tell it.
We had so many great moments on and off the air. One was the 20 game winning streak, it became quite profound of an experience. Also, the playoffs after 9/11. It, too, was very profound and also so very emotional. We experienced and went through it very much together.
Bill was so authentic. He was so real, so genuine, so black and white. He always would have this great passion that he always had for everything and everyone.
It’s interesting, the Bay Area has such great announcers … and, as Ken added, they are all very good friends. Jon Miller, the Hall of Fame Announcer for the San Francisco Giants, grew up in the Bay Area, where he, too, had always been a great fan of Bill King, and they also became best of friends. The Foreward of the book was heartfully written by Jon himself.
Also, when the book came out, the Oakland A’s owner, Lew Wolff, approached Ken in the team’s dugout following a radio interview that Ken had just completed. He wanted to congratulate Ken on the book. Lew knew of these special relationships. He wanted to get a book and see to it, that one could be personally delivered to Vin Scully. Lew knew full well, that these two have been, since anyone can remember, for more than half a century, the very best in the profession … and who also had the highest amount of respect for the games and for each other.
Soon afterward, what came back was a very nice note from Vin Scully himself, on Dodger letterhead no less, to thank both Lew and Ken and how appreciative he was and how much it meant to him.
Bill King was truly an exceptional announcer. In all his sports. And away from sports, he was truly an exceptional man. He touched many as a great Renaissance man, and he enjoyed life and shared that passion and enthusiasm to many millions like no one else ever has or ever will.
Ken’s book is truly very special about someone very special. If you ever heard Bill King, you have undoubtedly been touched in such a positive, moving way, as we all have. Enjoy the book. Thank you, Bill King. Thank you, Ken Korach.