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 Broadcaster Russ Hodges Gave Lon Simmons The Birthday Gift Of History in 1960

Gone are the days of season highlights LPs. The awesome
website http://www.bayarearadio.org/ preserved this one.
To learn more about the two Giants broadcast icons,
start with this sensational site, part of the
California Historical Radio Society!

Lon Simmons not only announced the first-ever San Francisco Giants game, he did it with a legendary voice at his side.

Russ Hodges is remembered for shouting “The Giants Win The Pennant!” after Bobby Thomson’s 1951 miracle home run. It seems we should be remembering Mr. Hodges for a whole lot more.
Simmons recalled:

“I was blessed to work with Russ Hodges on the Giants broadcasts from the start in 1958 until he passed in 1972.

He was a great broadcaster and a wonderful friend. Destiny was very special to bring him and major league baseball into my life.

A true story of generosity by a fellow announcer came on my birthday in 1960, when Russ gave me the chance to finish the broadcast as Juan Marichal flirted with a no-hitter in his first major league start. Unfortunately, Clay Dalrymple got a pinch-hit single for the only hit.

Russ said he wanted me to get a chance to announce my first no-hitter and that was his birthday gift to me. No other announcer would ever do that, but it is something I have always remembered and during my later years, was able to give some younger announcers and equal opportunity.”

Coming Monday: Lon Simmons shatters a Wikipedia myth.

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!

Team Organists, Yankees Fans And More: Previewing Tom’s Latest “10 Most Wanted” List

Once, Mark Cresse
made and sold lamps
made out of Dodger
broken bats!

I decided to go off the field in search of 10 more eyewitnesses to baseball history.

Topping the list is Christian Lopez, the fan who caught (and gave back) Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. I’m hoping I’m not too late. I see that Steiner Sports has offered signed LOPEZ baseballs. Does this mean that answering fan mail is taboo?

Two other Yankee-related names intrigue me, retiring trainer Gene Monahan and the first Christian Lopez, best known as Sal Durante. Durante caught the 61st home run ball hit by Roger Maris.

Other non-player notables on my list include:

Lon Simmons, Frick Award-winning announcer
Mark Cresse, long-time Dodgers bullpen coach
Terry “Talkin’ Baseball” Cashman
Oscar Leon, Artist
Lou Cella, Sculptor
(collaborators on Frank Thomas statue — loved their This Week in Baseball appearance!)
Gary Pressey, Cubs organist
Nancy Bea Hefley, Dodgers organist

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out this impressive feature about MLB team organists!