Oakland Athletics Broadcaster Lon Simmons Dispels Heart-warming Wikipedia Tale From 1989 World Series

Bill King

Ken Levine offers
a fine tribute on
his blog!

In college, a journalism professor once said, “If your Mama says she loves you, check it out!”
Meaning? Never stop seeking accuracy.

I peeked at the Lon Simmons Wikipedia entry to start a letter to the broadcaster.

I found a story that seemed too good to be true. To quote:

“At the start of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1989 World Series, Athletics’ lead announcer Bill King, scheduled to announce the final inning’s play-by-play, instead deferred to Simmons, who was thus able to announce to his radio audience three batters later that the A’s had won the World Series over Simmons’ former team, the Giants.”

I wanted to see if Simmons could detail the emotions behind such a gift.

Oops! Shades of journalism class! It seems the tale just might be too good to be true.

Simmons replied:

“I hate to ruin a touching story, but Bill did not turn the mike over to me. It was during the final two games after the earthquake and Bill had throat condition that left him almost speechless so I had to broadcast all of the games.”

The moral? Be careful in quoting baseball history to history-makers. Hope that you’ll always be writing to a Lon Simmons, someone happy to set the record straight.

My professor would be proud. Or, he’d want you all to pay tuition. Class dismissed!

Giants, A’s Broadcaster Lon Simmons Downplays Hall Of Fame Status As Ford Frick Winner

Thankfully, the ghost
of Frick hasn’t put
an asterisk by
Simmons’ name!

Any Bay Area baseball fans will recall his calls. He’s the voice that beckoned Giants and Athletics followers. He’s Lon Simmons.

In an amazing reply of blunt humility, the acclaimed broadcaster questioned his 2004 Frick Award honor from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He wrote:

“I did not and do not feel I deserved to be inducted into Cooperstown. But it was the first year fans were allowed a vote in the process. Bay Area fans cast enough votes for me to join the final ten and it didn’t take a great number of votes from the committee to give me the honor.”

Simmons did accept the award. He recalled the ceremony:

“I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were fifty Hall of Famers at the ceremony, most of whom I was privileged to speak about and with in my time with the Giants and A’s. Also a good friend from my years with the A’s — Dennis Eckersley — was inducted in the same ceremony.”

Didn’t make it to Cooperstown that year? Relive the glory courtesy of the Bay Area Radio Museum, offering a replay of Simmons’ acceptance speech!

Coming Friday: Simmons salutes Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges!

Pitcher Don August Offers 2 Olympic Memories

The face of a
future history teacher!

They may not have called him MISTER August when batting against him, but everyone addresses him with such respect now.

Former pitcher Don August has been teaching middle school history for six years in Wisconsin. I wrote to him in care of his school.

Before debuting with the 1988 Milwaukee Brewers, August helped the United States baseball team win silver. He shared TWO Olympic memories:

“Top Olympic memory, hard to say. The incredible travel schedule Team USA went on during our pre-Olympic tour. We played in about 12 Major League stadiums. Some of those parks don’t exist any more.

– OR –

I came in relief in the semi-final game in a 2-2 game. Two outs, runner on third with a 2 ball, 0 strike count. I finished the game with 0 runs and got the win to put us into the gold medal game.”

With Milwaukee, August had another notable victory. Flash back to June 17, 1991. August twirled a five-hit shutout. (Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/ for the sweet details!)

“I don’t remember any tense moments, maybe because in that game I rolled up five double play balls, which meant before they could do anything the double play probably stopped it. The Oakland A’s definitely had a tremendous lineup.

I had a good day.”

These days, August is living history for his classes. He explained:

“The kids I teach weren’t born when I pitched for the Brewers. They really don’t know the players of that era. They don’t know who George Brett was.

One kid may say, ‘Oh, is he that guy who went bananas with the pine tar bat incident?’,
 and that’s it about George Brett.

They all think that I am a millionaire. They know what the salaries are today, so they think that’s the money we made. They just think it’s cool that I played on TV, played in cool stadiums, etc.”

Coming Wednesday: Seven fascinating words from catcher “Tim” Thompson

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