OAKLAND — Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh offered his congratulations. Warriors coach Steve Kerr chimed in too.
It was fitting that on the night that A’s skipper Bob Melvin rang up win No. 1,000 of his managerial career, some of the Bay Area’s best known sports figures helped him celebrate.
Melvin, a Palo Alto native who attended Cal and played for the Giants, is a huge student of Bay Area sports history. And after Rajai Davis delivered a dramatic walk-off homer to lift Oakland to a 5-4 victory over the Twins on Saturday night, Melvin’s thoughts drifted to one of the Bay Area’s most legendary and beloved sports personalities.
Former A’s play-by-play man Bill King, who passed away in 2005, was inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday. Davis’ ninth-inning blast was a “Holy Toledo!”-worthy moment if ever there was one.
“Bill King day, there are a lot of things today that kind of make you reflect a little bit,” Melvin said after the win. “He was such a big part of my youth. Him going into the Hall of Fame today. Unfortunately he’s not here to enjoy it and see it … (But) it ended up being a nice day. If you get a win out of it that gets you a round number, it makes it a little better.”
While driving to the Coliseum earlier in the day, Melvin said he was listening to a clip of King calling the Warriors’ 1975 Western Conference Finals series against the Chicago Bulls, and that he got goose bumps. Then his team snapped a five-game losing streak with its eighth walk-off win of 2017.
After the game, the A’s tweeted out some pre-taped congratulatory messages. One was from Harbaugh, the Michigan football coach who played in the same American Legion program as Melvin as a youth. Wearing a Michigan polo and a green and gold A’s batting helmet, Harbaugh offered:
“Congratulations to the entire Athletics organization on getting Bob Melvin his 1,000th career win. Great coach, great win. Good luck the rest of the way.”
Then, Harbaugh pumped his fist cheerleader-style and finished his message with “Bo-Mel!”
Kerr, who’s enjoyed his share of celebrations over the past three years as Warriors coach, also taped a message.
“Hey Bob, congratulations on win No. 1,000 in your managerial career. Pretty amazing accomplishment. Keep it rolling, keep having fun and good luck the rest of the season.”
Davis, whose only previous walk-off homer came against the A’s in 2014 while with Toronto, was aware that Melvin had been stuck on 999 wins since Sunday.
“Hopefully they can find (the home run ball) for him,” Davis said. “Frame it for him real nice, so he can set it up on his wall or something.”
As it turns out, as soon as Davis’ blast cleared the fence in the ninth, Erik Farrell — the A’s manager of authentication — hightailed it toward the outfield to locate the ball. He retrieved it beyond the wall in left center, ensuring that Melvin will indeed have the meaningful keepsake.