Holy Toledo! Bill King Wins Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcast Excellence

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.

Some weeks ago, I wrote a piece in this forum called “A Moment for the Broadcasters,” where I did thumbnail sketches of the 8 men nominated for the Ford C. Frick award.  The winner has been announced.  The award will be presented posthumously to Bill King, the long time voice of the Giants, Warriors (NBA) Raiders (NFL) and Oakland Athletics. King passed away at age 78 in 2005. When the Giants moved to San Francisco they built a Hall of Fame broadcast team of Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and King-all of whom are now Frick Award winners. His earliest broadcasts were from Guam to Armed Forces Radio Service listeners, recreating games as the play-by-play came from Western Union. Before 1958 he broadcast lesser sports events in Illinois and Nebraska. When the Warriors moved west in 1962 King was their choice and he called their games until 1983. He was the voice of the Raiders from their AFL start in 1966 until 1992. He wouldn’t have touched Oakland baseball in the 1970’s when Charles O. Finley ran the show.  At one point A’s games could be heard only on a 10-watt college FM station until a 5,000-watt San Jose station got the rights.  Especially before the Internet, such a turn of events was inexcusable in major league baseball.  In the 1970’s a team would be either on a  50,000-watt flamethrower like WGN or KMOX,  or they would be on a chain of smaller stations.  Oakland did neither.  But when Finley sold the team, new ownership got it on a real radio station and brought Bill King in. He and Lon Simmons spent 15 years doing A’s games. Broadcaster Ken Korach titled a book “Holy Toledo, Lessons from Bill King” which came out in 2013.  The Frick Award is handed out the day before new players are inducted in Cooperstown.

As for the rest of baseball, As the winter meetings continue, moves continue to be made. The  latest word I heard at 3 PM has Wade Davis to the Cubs for Jorge Soler, Ian Desmond off to Colorado and lefty Jeff Locke, ex-Pirate off to join the Marlins and try to keep them out of Davy Jones’ Locker (AKA last place.) With their own center fielder Ian Desmond set to move to the Great Divide,  The Texas Rangers signed Carlos Gomez, who they acquired off waivers late in 2016. Gomez almost went to the Mets from Milwaukee, then ended up in Houston where he played so poorly he was put on waivers. The Rangers think he’ll fit with them, which keeps them off the market for such center fielders as Billy Hamilton and Lorenzo Cain whom the Royals may be able_ to ship elsewhere.
Meantime, the Rays took a risk by signing injured catcher Wilson Ramos. He hit .307 with 22 home runs for Washington before tearing the ACL in his right knee at the very end of September. An optimistic prediction for this injury is six months of rehab, but decades of following sports have taught me that you can’t live on optimistic predictions. Yes, some athletes come back as good as new off ACL injuries, but some are so hampered they are liabilities to their employers. Kevin Maas of the Yankees comes to mind, along with the women’s basketball player Brittany Hunter who could play only for short hops after her injury. Somebody very close to me tore her ACL at age 17 and it took numerous_ operations to put her right. Baseball teams don’t have time for any player to have numerous operations unless he’s Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. The sad thing is this year was the first time Ramos had been selected as an All-Star in 7 big league seasons. He was a Twins’ farm hand as early as 2004 and took 6 years to reach the show. Just by the way, this is the second tear in the same knee. The first occurred in 2012.
The latest news as of 3 PM US Eastern is, Wade Davis has gone to the Cubs for Jorge Soler.  It has been expected to happen.
Wade Davis is well remembered for his pitching with the Royals in their victorious 2015 World Series. He turned 31 this past September. He played for the Rays from 2009–12, then with the Royals since 2013. The last two seasons he has been an All-Star. He was moved to the bull pen in 2012 though he hadn’t done badly as a starter. He is second cousin to former Cubs’ catcher Jody Davis.  He may have come as cheaply as he did because he only has one year-2017-on his contract.  The Cubs are looking at multiple free agents at the end of 2017.           Jorge Soler has hit .268 since 2014 with the Cubs. He will turn 25 before the next season starts and is under contract to the Royals through 2020.      Ian Desmond, now age 31 will spend the next 5 years working on his hitting stats at Coors Canaveral. He’s hit .267 with 132 home runs since 2009.  Bet he tops that out where the air is rare? He was an All-Star in 2012 and 2016, once for each team he played for. He was with the Nationals from 2009-15, then spent last year with the Rangers. He was drafted in round 3 in 2004 by the Expos-the last year they had a draft. The next year they were at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital. His signing with the Rockies makes me wonder if Trevor  Story’s recovery from his season-ending injury to his thumb is going as well as it should be. Story  had hit .272 with 27 bombs before cracking up. Desmond is as much a shortstop as an outfielder, so Trevor may hear footsteps behind him.

For the only time this busy week I have the opportunity to keep checking for updates from the winter meetings and will publish them as I find them.


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