Bay Area sports lost an institution on Tuesday morning, when A's broadcaster Bill King passed away after complications to hip surgery. He was, the Chronicle says, "believed to be around 80." King came to the Bay Area in 1958 when the Giants did, and worked games with Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges. He called Warriors games from 1962, when they moved to San Francisco, until 1983 (including their 1975 championship season), and Raiders games from 1966 until 1996. We remember him best around here, of course, as the radio voice of the A's since 1981, or as long as we can remember--he took us from Billy Ball through the Bash Brothers to Moneyball.
Bill King lived in Sausalito. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy Stephens, and he is survived by his stepdaughter, Kathleen Lowenthal, and her husband Barry of Woodacre, his stepson, John Stephens of Sausalito, and his grandchildren, Julia and John Lowenthal. We're sorry for their loss, and we're especially grateful to Kathleen for driving her stepdad to the ballpark and back this season.
We'll remember that Bill King was old school without being reactionary, he was passionate, knowledgeable and opinionated about sports, and he made it more fun to be a fan. Summer in Northern California sounds like Bill King on AM radio: on long car rides, on portable radios that barely get the signal in the mountains, or through tinny headphones during an afternoon class. He was a link to baseball's past and to radio's, and we learned much of what we know about both from him. We'll miss him.
Oaklandathletics.com is accepting submissions for a "Fans' Tribute to Bill King," to appear Monday. No real-world memorial service had been scheduled as of Tuesday evening, but donations in his memory should go to 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.