Bill King, longtime voice of the A’s, Warriors and Raiders, was a beloved figure in California for decades, celebrated for his passion and precision in calling a game and for his colorful life away from sports, an utterly original figure who lives today in the hearts and memories of countless fans. Bill was also one of the most influential broadcasters of all time, an inspiration to legions of his fellow broadcasters who looked up to him.
Ken Korach, longtime voice of the A’s and Bill’s partner for ten seasons until King’s death in 2005, is the perfect one to bring Bill to life on the page. A half-century ago, Ken Korach was a kid in Los Angeles, spinning the night dial to tune in Warriors basketball games from faraway San Francisco for one reason: He just had to hear Bill. Now he tells the remarkable story of King the legendary baseball, basketball and football broadcaster, the student of Russian literature, the passionate sailor, the fan of eating anything and everything from gourmet to onions and peanut butter, the remarkable painter.
Korach draws on a lifetime of listening to and learning from King – as well as extensive research, including more than fifty interviews with King’s family members, colleagues, friends and associates – to create this rich portrait. Holy Toledo features a moving foreword by Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller, previously of ESPN, and a brilliant cover by Mark Ulriksen, internationally recognized for his New Yorker magazine covers, that captures King’s flair and personality. Billy Beane “The best part about Bill wasn’t just that he was so good at his job but that he was so interesting outside of his job. His mustache epitomized that. He looked eccentric and he was eccentric, in a good way.” Bob Welch “If I had a hitter I had trouble with, I’d ask Bill how I should pitch him. He always had a good answer.” Greg Papa “Bill King was the greatest radio broadcaster in the history of the United States.” Tom Meschery “Talking with Bill was like talking with an encyclopedia. If you wanted to talk sports, literature – when Bill talked you listened, because he always had something interesting to talk about.” Al Attles “He didn’t sugarcoat it. Bill was a departure from the way it was. If a player from the Warriors made a mistake, Bill told it like it was.” Ed Rush “I’d put the radio out the window and keep turning it to certain angles and it would go in and go out. I’d listen to the Warriors and the Raiders. To do all three sports like he did, he was phenomenal. He was out of this world.” Tom Flores “Bill made some of the great plays in the history of the Raiders even greater with his description. Those moments were kept alive in his voice.” Jason Giambi “He was such an incredible man. I had so much fun with him and he would always ask how my family was doing and I have the fondest memories of him. We would talk about life and all the things he had seen. He made me well rounded.” Rick Barry “He had the ability to see a game, a basketball game, and express what was happening in eloquent terms, at times instantaneously. When he was saying something, it was happening."