That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Tribute to Bill King at Perry’s In San Francisco

January 26, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics photo: Newly inducted Hall of Famer Bill King at the mic in 1974 circa photo

By Amaury Pi Gonzalez

SAN FRANCISCO– On Wednesday afternoon, a bevy of Bay Area sports personalities, past and present attended a well deserved tribute to Bill King, to celebrate his induction this year into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The recipient of the Ford C.Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting. Owners, broadcasters, writers, producers, radio engineers, scouts, in general, people in the business who worked and knew Bill King.

Hosted by the inimitable Andy Dolich, (Marketing Guru), Master of Ceremonies and the best ownership in Bay Area history, Athletics Wally Haas and Roy Eisenhardt, they were all there, together with Ken Korach current voice for the Oakland Athletics as well as Ford C. Frick Award winner Jon Miller, Voice of the San Francisco Giants, who before joining the Giants was a play by play man for the Athletics.

Roy Eisenhardt, who told me he is teaching law these days, described Bill King as a man that would “paint a picture “of a baseball game that you, by listening to him on the radio, could basically see the game in your head. It was that Athletics ownership that hired Bill King and also Lon Simmons. In my opinion that was the best broadcast team in Bay Area history. Two number one announcers working side by side. Both are in the Hall of Fame and both are Bay Area institutions. The Bay Area never had two Hall of Fame announcers working in the same booth and for the same team. That has never happened.

Broadcasters, executives, writers alike were rubbing elbows. Like Hank Greenwald (another Bay Area legend) and his son also broadcaster Doug Greenwald, Ted Robinson, Barry Tompkins, Lowell Cohn, Dave Newhouse, Pat Gallagher, Rich Walcoff, Gary Hughes, Debbie Gallas.,among others. Perry Butler the owner of Perry’s at Union Street, since 1969 a very popular San Francisco spot, himself a huge sports fan, was enjoying the tribute to the one and only Bill King.

I remember many years ago writing a story for El Mundo News of Oakland about Bill King, in which I described that listening to Bill doing the play by play of the Golden State Warriors on the radio, was a lot better than watching the game on television. The “Holy Toledo” man was one-of-a-kind. I gave him a copy of my article (in Spanish) and framed it and presented it to Bill and basically told him what I was writing about. He loved it. He was always very inquisitive and wanted to get involved with everything he took interest with. If he asked me how to pronounce a players last name that was Spanish, I told him and he always wanted to know more about each player.

It is about time that Bill King won the Ford C. Frick Award. Like I told his daughter, it was a pleasure and something I had to do, when he was nominated to ask my friends Jaime Jarrin (Dodgers Spanish announcer) and Rafael (Felo) Ramirez(Marlins Spanish announcer), both whom I have worked with during postseason for Latin American networks, and urged them to vote for Bill King, they did.  Jarrin and Ramirez are the only two living Spanish speaking Major League Baseball announcers that have also won the Ford C.Frick Award. The other was the legendary pioneer Eloy “Buck” Canel, who used to be the anchor for “Cavalgata Deportiva Gillette” (Gillette Cavalcade of Sports) which originated from the NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Canel was also the Voice in Spanish for the New York Yankees and for many World Series for millions of radio listeners in Latin America.

Andy Dolich was right when he said that Bill King should also be in the Basketball and Football Hall of Fame. The Bay Area never had a much versatile announcer than King. He was at the same time the voice for the A’s, Raiders and Warriors, and -trust me- he preferred radio over television. Ken Korach who wrote the excellent book, Holy Toledo:Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic, share anecdotes about working with Bill King. Wally Haas told me he is involved in running a non-profit for inner city kids. There has never been a more humble and decent owner in Bay Area Sports than Wally Haas, and his late father Walter Haas, they brought pride to Oakland, a winning attitude and great years of baseball.

During the late 1980’s championship years they drew much better than their cross bay rivals San Francisco Giants, who were then dying at the gate at maligned Candlestick Park. Last time I saw Bill King, the Athletics were playing the last weekend of the regular season at SAFECO Field in Seattle(2005) Bill King and Ken Korach were calling the game and I was two booths to their right doing the same in Spanish language. I remember I asked Bill what was he doing in the off season, he told me he was going to have hip replacement. About three weeks later I learned he has died of some kind of after-surgery complications, at a hospital in San Leandro

Remembering Bill King’s life, was quite an event and on the first day without rain in the Bay Area,and Holy Toledo! the skies opened up and where clear for the great erudite broadcaster.

Kudos to Andy Dolich and the Haas and Eisenhardt ownership of the Oakland Athletics for this very emotive event.


Amaury Pi-Gonzalez was broadcasting the Oakland Athletics in Spanish, when the Haas family bought the team from Charlie O. Finley in 1980.







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