Claim to fame: King was a fixture on sports broadcasts in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond for four decades. The voice of the Oakland A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005, King did a bit of everything well, also calling Warriors games from 1962 until 1983 and Raider games from 1966 until 1992. Former San Francisco Giants announcer Hank Greenwald worked Warriors games with King in the ’60s and ’70s and praised his former partner and closest friend in broadcasting. In a phone interview with this Website on Tuesday evening, Greenwald said of King, “He always had excitement in his voice. He always had that ability to create that word picture that’s vital to radio listeners.”
Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Since he was a broadcaster, King can not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is no writers or broadcasters wing of the museum, so to speak. What there is at Cooperstown is a permanent exhibit that honors the best media to cover the game, commemorating writers who win the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and broadcasters who receive the Ford Frick Award. Along with nine other broadcasters including Tim McCarver, King is a finalist for this year’s Frick award.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Disclaimer aside that King wouldn’t be enshrined in Cooperstown, he’d make an interesting addition to the media exhibit. His catchphrase “Holy Toledo” seems worthy of inclusion regardless. King will face tough competition from McCarver who looks like the favorite and perhaps Graham McNamee who’d make an interesting historical choice seeing as he was the first person to broadcast a baseball game back in 1922. But even if King doesn’t get into Cooperstown this year or ever, he may belong in a Hall of Fame somewhere.
Greenwald’s son Doug, the announcer for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies said King was like an uncle to him, “my American League dad” and that if there simply were a general sports broadcasting Hall of Fame, King would deserve to be in. Greenwald echoed his son’s sentiments and didn’t hesitate when asked if King had been honored by the NBA Hall of Fame. “I know for a fact that he has not,” Greenwald said. “That’s something that has bothered many of us.”
Greenwald said that perhaps the issue for King was that he did well in a number of sports but didn’t stick out in any of them. It’s the same sort of problem that keeps certain directors from winning Oscars, certain writers relegated to Pulitzer Prizes for something called General Excellence. Life isn’t always good about rewarding steady consistency rather than ephemeral brilliance, though the Hall of Fame makes a fairly decent point of honoring that. The question, I suppose, is if King did enough in his baseball broadcasting career to merit its equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. We’ll find out on December 7 when the voting results are announced.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.
Others in this series: Adrian Beltre, Al Oliver, Alan Trammell, Albert Belle, Albert Pujols, Allie Reynolds, Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Billy Martin, Bobby Grich, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Closers, Curt Flood, Dan Quisenberry, Darrell Evans, Dave Parker, Dick Allen, Don Mattingly,Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, George Van Haltren, Gus Greenlee, Harold Baines, Harry Dalton, Jack Morris, Jim Edmonds, Joe Carter, Joe Posnanski, John Smoltz, Juan Gonzalez, Keith Hernandez, Ken Caminiti, Larry Walker,Manny Ramirez, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Moises Alou, Pete Browning,Phil Cavarretta, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Rocky Colavito,Roger Maris, Ron Guidry, Ron Santo, Smoky Joe Wood, Steve Garvey,Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines, Tony Oliva, Will Clark