Cheering Miller, Lamenting King

February 2, 2010, 8:12 pm
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Jon Miller is an amazing talent, a gracious man and a deserving recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fames Ford C. Frick Award.

Still, Mondays news that Miller will take his well-earned place in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer, was bittersweet for me.

Bill King also was an amazing talent and a gracious man, and he would be every bit as deserving of the Frick Award as is Miller.

Sadly, it appears as though King, who passed away in 2005 after 25 years of calling As games, will never receive the games highest honor for broadcasters.

One of my most cherished memories as a professional is that of Bill pulling me aside after hearing some of my rookie-year work at KNBR.

Youre already good on the air, and youre going to get better, he told me, his wiry hand tightly gripping my forearm.

But dammit, stop saying, Ya know! Youre driving me @&! crazy. Youre a fine writer, Mychael. Dont bastardize the language just because the radio allows it. Youre better than that.

That a living legend took the time to offer constructive, colorful criticism meant the world to me. And of course, he was right. I was being lazy. And youll never hear me say those words again, all because of Bill.

Thats just a tiny example of what made him a Hall of Famer as a person, but he was a million times better behind a microphone. And thanks to the As and their web-savvy fans, King was among the 10 finalists for the Frick Award a couple of times in the recent past.

But he didnt even make the finalist cut this year or last, and the old adage is true: out of sight, out of mind.

Probably forever -- at least when it comes to baseball.

Its an absolute shame, because King is the best, most complete broadcaster the Bay Area has ever known. And while he might have been even better at football and basketball than he was at baseball, he was Hall of Fame good at the national pastime as well.

Dont take my word for it. Heres what Lon Simmons -- a Frick Award winner himself, one of Millers idols and a former radio partner of Kings -- told me in 2008:

"I've voted Bill No. 1 on every ballot I've had," said Simmons, who, as the 2004 Frick honoree, is part of the committee that selects the annual winner. "When you think of play-by-play, you have to think of Bill King as one of the best there ever was. ... He certainly has all the qualifications.

I was friends with Bill for a long time and I was on the air with him for a long time, and I really do believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He should get in there.

He probably wont, though, so I hope Miller at least gives him a nod when he steps up to the podium in upstate New York later this year.

The mere mention of Kings name at Cooperstown will have do for those of us who grew up convinced that no night was complete without hearing at least one Holy Toledo!

-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.