A's announcer Bill King passes away

A's announcer Bill King passes away

OAKLAND -- Longtime Oakland Athletics play-by-play announcer Bill King passed away this morning at San Leandro Memorial Hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolus. King was originally admitted to the hospital last Friday where he underwent hip surgery.

"We are deeply saddened by Bill's passing," said A's President Michael Crowley. "He was arguably the most recognizable voice in the history of Bay Area broadcasting. One would be hard-pressed to find an announcer who served as the lead play-by-play voice for three major sports franchises for as long as Bill. He was a broadcasting icon and true renaissance man in every sense of the word whose loss will be felt in many circles. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and his family."

As a longtime play-by-play announcer for both the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors (1962-83), the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1966-92), and since 1981, the Oakland A's-King spent five decades thrilling fans with his vivid descriptions of some of the most historical moments in the annals of three of the Bay Area's major sports teams. He is on a short list of announcers who balanced play-by-play duties with three major sports franchises simultaneously as King did during a three-year period in the early 1980's.

His accounts of Raider games-from the infamous "Heidi" game against the New York Jets in 1968; a string of last second victories on George Blanda field goals during the 1970 season; the "Sea of Hands" game against Miami in the 1974 AFC Playoffs; Dave Casper's "Ghost to the Post" touchdown reception that gave the Raiders a 1977 play-off win at Baltimore; the memorable "Holy Roller" play against the San Diego Chargers in 1978; and "Old Man" Willie Brown's interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl X-are regularly replayed and will forever be a part of the game's lore.

When the Philadelphia Warriors moved west to San Francisco following the 1961-62 season, it was the voice of Bill King that introduced professional basketball to fans in the Bay Area and Northern California. For the next 21 seasons, King described the action from courtside during the Wilt Chamberlain era and saw the transition to the Nate Thurmond and Rick Barry eras and beyond. His play-by-play descriptions of the Warriors improbable run to the 1974-75 NBA championship remain etched in the minds of Bay Area basketball fans.

Because of his immense talents as a football and basketball play-by-play announcer, many thought of baseball as being his third sport. However, after 25 seasons of broadcasting A's games-beginning with the "Billy Ball" teams of the early 80's, continuing with the "Bash Brothers" era that saw the A's make three consecutive World Series appearances from 1988-90 and transitioning to the talented A's teams of present day, King took his place alongside the game's great announcers, both past and present.

King was stationed on the island of Guam at the end of World War II when he began his broadcasting career with the Armed Forces Radio Network. He launched his career in the late 1940's in Pekin, Ill., broadcasting minor league baseball, along with high school football and basketball games. He later added duties calling Bradley University basketball games along with Nebraska football and basketball contests.

King came to the Bay Area in 1958, when he was hired by KSFO radio to join legendary talents Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons on the San Francisco Giant broadcasts. He also served as the voice for Cal football and basketball games.

A native of Bloomington, Ill., King resided in Sausalito, Calif. He is preceded in death by his wife, Nancy Stephens and is survived by his stepdaughter Kathleen Lowenthal and her husband Barry of Woodacre, stepson John Stephens of Sausalito and grandchildren Julia and John Lowenthal. Memorial services are pending.

Those wishing to make donations in memory of Bill may do so through the Smuin Ballet, 300 Brannan Street, Suite 407, San Francisco, CA 94107 or the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, P.O. Box 809, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956.