Bill King

I vividly remember the last time I listened to the A’s on the radio and got a classic Bill King moment. It was Sept. 7, 2005, when the A’s scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th to turn a 7-3 deficit into an amazing 8-7 comeback victory over the Mariners. Hot-headed Seattle reliever Jeff Nelson was the goat of the game and King punctuated his end-of-game call with that legendarily scratchy, excitable voice by saying, “… and they better get Nelson out of here before he burns the joint down!”

It was vintage Bill King. Sure, it wasn’t the most memorable game or even his greatest call as an announcer. But it was off-color, funny, unpredictable, and startlingly honest – it was exactly the kind of line that made King so loved by Oakland fans. He was a smart guy who didn’t suffer fools, he was innately rebellious and eccentric, he had a pathological inability to B.S. the listener and he had a fairly serious issue with authority. In other words, he fit like hand in glove with his Oakland fan base.

Six weeks after that A’s-Mariners game, he died at the age of 78 due to complications from hip surgery in a San Leandro hospital.

King was a broadcasting legend in not just one, but three sports – all of them based in Oakland. He worked for the Raiders from 1966-1992; for the Warriors from 1962-83; and for the A’s from 1981-2005. Remarkably – and sadly – he is not in the Hall of Fame for ANY of those sports.

Hopefully, we can help change that.

King is eligible for the Ford Frick Award, which the National Baseball Hall of Fame gives to baseball announcers. Fans can vote for him until Dec. 31 on Facebook by clicking here.

King was a Oakland baseball icon who was truly irreplaceable. He’s gone. And Oakland A’s fans miss him a lot. But his one-of-a-kind announcing style and all the memories he helped create will live on forever.

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Oakland’s Big Play

The most recent Robert Gammon article in the East Bay Express details what Oakland officials felt they had to do regarding the A’s ballpark situation and how they accomplished it. Oakland officials have been criticized for their failure to put a deal together. Until now. This time they did things right.

Here is a list of the challenges Oakland has faced and how they have dealt with them:

*Political Will: Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums put together a group of city officials and business leaders and they were effectively able to show a unified front.

*Site: For years, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff has said Oakland is “too built up” to provide an adequate ballpark site. Well, Oakland has found two new sites that have more than enough acreage and that are aesthetically pleasing. Also, a new stadium in Oakland — which is the Bay Area’s most cental location, would offer excellent public transportation options, making it the easiest ballpark to access in all of Northern California. Each of the new sites would offer all the advantages that a waterfront location provides, giving Jack London Square a potentially serious economic boost — with possibly enough land left over for additional development.

*Business Support: If you look at the LetsGoOakland.com founding supporters list, you will see a broad spectrum of business leaders from all over the Bay Area, not only the Oakland/East Bay area. Those supporters are just the tip of the iceberg. A well-executed ballpark plan embedded into a larger economic redevelopment concept would snowball into wider business support.

Oakland officials obviously have spent considerable time in putting these sites together. Being successful at avoiding leaks while getting many of their ducks in a row bodes well for Oakland’s ability to execute a complicated deal such as this. There still is a lot of work to do, but the city leaders have generated good momentum from their efforts to keep the A’s in Oakland on terms that will be favorable to Oakland, MLB and A’s ownership.

Oakland’s Boys of Summer

Oakland’s baseball history runs deep, going back nearly 150 years when the Live Oaks of Oakland played the Eagles of San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day in 1866.

Flash forward more than 120 years later, and you might recall the Oakland Athletics sweeping the San Francisco Giants to win the 1989 World Series. Don’t forget Oakland’s Negro League-era teams, including the Oakland Larks and the Oakland Black Giants. And we haven’t even mentioned the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League or Charlie Finley’s “Mustache Gang,” who were back-to-back-to-back World Series champs in the ’70s.

The point is that the East Bay and baseball have been synonymous just about forever. The ball fields of Oakland long have produced athletic pioneers, eccentric mavericks and superstars. So, be sure to check out Baseball Oakland’s “History” Web page, where we will be chronicling all parts of Oakland’s legendary baseball players, franchises and ballparks from years past. Click here to find out more.

PLAY BALL!

Welcome to Baseball Oakland, a new Web site founded by passionate and knowledgeable Oakland Athletics fans. This site will celebrate all things Oakland, with a special focus on the city’s efforts to keep the A’s in Oakland, where they’ve called home since 1968.

Oakland is a thriving, economically vibrant city on the verge of a renaissance, featuring a buzzing gourmet scene that has enjoyed the opening of more than 30 major restaurants in less than three years. The reopening of the Fox Theater in the Uptown District is just the latest centerpiece in downtown Oakland’s ongoing revitalization. Also, the city’s growing arts scene has yielded the wildly popular monthly Art Murmur events, showcasing the city’s respected artists and attracting thousands to downtown establishments. That these positive changes have occurred during the worst economic downturn in decades speaks volumes about Oakland’s burgeoning economic strength.
It’s just a matter of time before that same rebirth will be enjoyed in other parts of Oakland, including Jack London Square, an area where city officials and A’s boosters have announced three potential ballpark sites. A new A’s ballpark coupled with redevelopment plans in the planned Jack London Square entertainment district would do much to further fuel Oakland’s already strong economic engine.
It also would underscore Oakland’s rich baseball heritage, which dates all the way back to 1866. The A’s have proudly continued that tradition. So has their home city. In fact, the Athletics’ 40-plus years in Oakland have featured 4 World Series championships and 15 postseason appearances, including 14 American League West divisional titles. Only the New York Yankees have achieved more. Oakland has supported the A’s very well, in return, drawing more than 2 million fans 11 times since 1988. Oakland also set a Bay Area attendance mark in 1990, when it drew 2.9 million fans to A’s games.
Much of Oakland’s excellent sports legacy lies in its youth leagues, which produced legends such as Bill Russell, Curt Flood, Joe Morgan, Jason Kidd, Andre Ward and Marshawn Lynch, to name just a few. So, we also will highlight the future stars in local youth sports – from high schools in the Oakland Athletic League to Little League and girls softball squads.
These and other issues will be explored in greater detail in future blog entries. Until then, please join us as we enthusiastically delve into our two favorite pastimes: Baseball and Oakland.
— Baseball Oakland