Lon Simmons

Lonnie Alexander "Lon" Simmons (July 19, 1923 – April 5, 2015) was an American baseball and football broadcaster, and was broadcasting part-time for the San Francisco Giants at the time of his death. He was born in Vancouver, Washington. Simmons was a star pitcher at Burbank High School and Glendale College before enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard. After World War II, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and pitched briefly in their minor league system.

Lon Simmons
Lon Simmons in 1971 KSFO ad
Simmons poses for a KSFO advertisement in 1971.
Born
Lonnie Alexander Simmons

July 19, 1923
DiedApril 5, 2015 (aged 91)
ResidenceSan Francisco, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
OccupationTelevision broadcaster
Known forBroadcasting for the San Francisco Giants (baseball) the San Francisco 49ers (American football)
Home townBurbank, California

Career

His radio career began in Elko, Nevada, calling Elko High School football and basketball games on KELK. He first announced baseball for a semipro league in Marysville, California. After spending three years broadcasting Fresno State sports on KMJ, Simmons came to San Francisco in 1957 as the sports director at KSFO. That year, he was the color commentator for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League, teaming with play-by-play announcer Bob Fouts, the father of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts.

In 1958, Simmons took over as play-by-play announcer on 49ers radio broadcasts, paired with former 49er Gordy Soltau. Years later, he worked with KSFO disc-jockey Gene Nelson and then with former NFL player and KPIX-TV sports director Wayne Walker. Also in 1958, he became the second announcer for the newly relocated San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball, teaming with lead announcer Russ Hodges, who moved with the team from New York. To complement Hodges' "Bye Bye Baby!" home run call, Simmons created his own, "Tell It Goodbye!" When Hodges retired after the 1970 season (he died in April 1971), Simmons was promoted to lead announcer and teamed with Bill Thompson. This pairing lasted through the 1973 season. Al Michaels and Art Eckman became the Giants radio announcers on KSFO in 1974.

Famed "wrong-way" football call

Simmons' most famous call during his first stint with the 49ers came on October 25, 1964, when Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall picked up a fumble by the 49ers' Billy Kilmer and ran it the wrong way, scoring a safety for the 49ers instead of a touchdown for the Vikings (who won the game anyway, by a score of 27-22). The transcript of his call, including his mid-sentence transition as the moment occurred, reads as:

(George) Mira, straight back to pass ... looking, now stops, throws ... completes it to (Billy) Kilmer up at the 30-yard line, Kilmer driving for the first down, loses the football ... it is picked up by Jim Marshall who is running the wrong way! Marshall is running the wrong way! And he's running it into the end zone the wrong way, thinks he has scored a touchdown! He has scored a safety! His teammates were running along the far side of the field, Russ (Hodges), trying to tell him go back![1]

Later career

Simmons returned to the Giants in 1976 as second announcer behind Michaels, then was the lead announcer again in 1977 and 1978, teaming with San Francisco native Joe Angel. When KSFO lost the Giants radio rights to rival KNBR in 1979, Simmons and Angel were replaced by Lindsey Nelson and Hank Greenwald. Three years later in 1981, KSFO acquired the Oakland Athletics' radio rights. Simmons then became an A's announcer, along with longtime Oakland Raiders and San Francisco/Golden State Warriors voice Bill King and youngster Wayne Hagin. Simmons remained part of the A's radio team through the 1995 season. From 1996 to 2002, he called Giants games part-time on KNBR. With the 49ers, he remained as play-by-play announcer through the 1980 season. In 1981, KSFO lost the 49ers radio rights to KCBS, who replaced him with its own sports director, longtime Stanford University play-by-play announcer Don Klein.

Simmons also served as the Warriors TV announcer on KTVU during the 1973–74 NBA season.

During the final two games of the 1989 World Series, Athletics lead announcer Bill King came down with laryngitis. Simmons was thus able to announce to his radio audience that the A's had won the World Series over Simmons' former team, the Giants.

During Simmons' first tenure as 49ers play-by-play announcer, the team never won an NFL championship. One year after his departure, San Francisco began a run of Super Bowl victories. When KGO acquired the 49ers radio rights in 1987, Simmons returned as the play-by-play announcer and was reunited with long-time colleague, Wayne Walker. During the 1988 regular season, Simmons' call of Steve Young's breathtaking game-winning 49-yard scramble against the Minnesota Vikings became as memorable as the play itself.

The following January, San Francisco won Super Bowl XXIII over the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16. Simmons' call of the 49ers' Super Bowl game-winning drive (punctuated by a Joe Montana-to-John Taylor TD pass) can be heard on the NFL Films highlights package of the game. Simmons again departed from the 49ers — this time for good — during the 1989 preseason following a dispute with the KGO management. He was replaced in the play-by-play spot by Joe Starkey, the long-time announcer for the University of California Golden Bears and sideline reporter on 49ers games in 1987 and 1988; Starkey had taken over play-by-play on several October games during the 1988 season. Starkey retired from the position following the 2008 NFL season.

Death

Simmons died on April 5, 2015 at his home in Daly City, California. Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays said at the time, "Lon was like my big brother. Anybody who knew him knew he was very genuine. He'd always tell you the truth. When I went into a slump, he was one of the guys I'd listen to. Just a nice man. He was always there for me in all kinds of situations. I'm really going to miss him."[2][3]

Honors

Simmons received the 2004 Ford C. Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster. He was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006 as a member of the first class to be inducted.[4] Also in 2006, he was inducted into the Glendale Community College Athletic Hall of Fame, along with his teammate, friend and broadcast partner, Bill Thompson.[5] Simmons' trademark call for home runs, "Tell it goodbye!," is quoted by John Fogerty in his song, Centerfield.

In May 2006, Simmons rejoined the San Francisco Giants as a fill-in broadcaster. He was hired back to be in the booth during four in-season trips to San Francisco from his home in Maui for the 2006 baseball season.

The Giants radio booth at AT&T Park is named after him and Hodges. Both are honored at the ball park with displays depicting a microphone and their names, alongside those of the Giants National Baseball Hall of Fame player inductees. After Simmon's death in April 2015 the San Francisco Giants wore a "LON" patch for the 2015 Season on their jerseys to honor their longtime broadcaster.

Other media

Simmons provided voice samples for Sega's Sports Talk video game series, including Sports Talk Baseball, Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football, NFL Sports Talk Football '93, and NFL Football '94 Starring Joe Montana. Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football was the first video game ever to feature a full play-by-play running commentary.

References

  1. ^ NFL Films clip of Jim Marshall wrong way run on YouTube
  2. ^ "#SFGiants family & Bay Area lost a true gentleman this morning when HOF broadcaster Lon Simmons passed away at age 91". Twitter. San Francisco Giants. April 5, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "Lon Simmons, beloved Bay Area sportscaster, dead at 91". www.sfgate.com. San Francisco Chronicle. April 6, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

1958 San Francisco Giants season

The 1958 San Francisco Giants season was the franchise's inaugural season in San Francisco, California and 76th season overall. The Giants' home ballpark was Seals Stadium. The team had a record of 80–74 finishing in third place in the National League standings, twelve games behind the NL Champion Milwaukee Braves.

Of the broadcast team, Russ Hodges left his former broadcasting partners in New York and for that season was joined on both KTVU and KSFO by Lon Simmons.

1959 San Francisco Giants season

The 1959 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 77th year in Major League Baseball and their second year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season. The team finished in third place in the National League with an 83-71 record, 4 games behind the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the team's second and final season at Seals Stadium before moving their games to Candlestick Park the following season.

1960 San Francisco Giants season

The 1960 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 78th year in Major League Baseball. The team moved their home games from Seals Stadium to the new Candlestick Park. In their third season in the Golden Gate City, the Giants finished in fifth place in the National League, 16 games behind the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

1961 San Francisco Giants season

The 1961 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 79th year in Major League Baseball, their 4th year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their second at Candlestick Park. The team finished in third place in the National League with an 85-69 record, eight games behind the NL Champion Cincinnati Reds. The Giants were managed by Alvin Dark.

1963 San Francisco Giants season

The 1963 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 81st year in Major League Baseball, their sixth year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their fourth at Candlestick Park. The team finished in third place in the National League with an 88-74 record, 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1964 San Francisco Giants season

The 1964 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 82nd year in Major League Baseball, their seventh year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their fifth at Candlestick Park. The team finished in fourth place, as a result of their 90–72 record, placing them three games behind the National League and World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

1968 San Francisco Giants season

The 1968 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 86th year in Major League Baseball, their eleventh year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their ninth at Candlestick Park. The team finished in second place in the National League with an 88–74 record, 9 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1970 San Francisco Giants season

The 1970 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 88th year in Major League Baseball, their 13th year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their 11th at Candlestick Park. The Giants went 86–76, which was good for third place in the National League West, 16 games behind the NL Champion Cincinnati Reds.

1973 San Francisco Giants season

The 1973 San Francisco Giants season was the franchise's 91st season, 16th season in San Francisco and 14th in Candlestick Park. The team finished third in the National League West with a record of 88–74, 11 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.

1985 Oakland Athletics season

The Oakland Athletics' 1985 season involved the A's finishing 4th in the American League West with a record of 77 wins and 85 losses. While the Athletics' on-field performance continued to disappoint, the debut of slugger Jose Canseco gave fans a measure of hope.

1997 San Francisco Giants season

The 1997 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 115th season in Major League Baseball, their 40th season in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their 38th at 3Com Park at Candlestick Point. The Giants finished in first place in the National League West with a record of 90 wins and 72 losses. They lost the National League Division Series in three games to the Florida Marlins.

2000 San Francisco Giants season

The 2000 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 118th season in Major League Baseball and their 43rd season in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season. The Giants finished in first place in the National League West with a record of 97 wins and 65 losses. They lost the National League Division Series in four games to the New York Mets.

The team played their first season in newly opened Pacific Bell Park.

2004 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2004 proceeded in keeping with rules enacted in 2001. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) held an election to select from recent players. The Veterans Committee did not hold an election; the 2001 rules changes provided that elections for players retired over 20 years would be held every other year, with elections of non-players (managers, umpires and executives) held every fourth year. The Committee held elections in 2003 in both categories, including players who were active no later than 1981. The next election for players was in 2005; elections in both categories would again be held in 2007.

The induction ceremonies were held on July 25 in Cooperstown, with Commissioner Bud Selig presiding.

Bill King

Wilbur "Bill" King (October 6, 1927 – October 18, 2005) was an American sports announcer. In 2016, the National Baseball Hall of Fame named King recipient of the 2017 Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters.

King was the radio voice of the Oakland Athletics baseball team for 25 years (1981–2005), the longest tenure of any A's announcer since the team's games were first broadcast in Philadelphia in 1938, as well as the longtime radio play-by-play announcer for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders football team and the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors basketball team. Earlier in his career, he had been a member of the San Francisco Giants' original broadcasting team (together with Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons) when the Giants moved west from New York in 1958, and had called University of California football and basketball games.

King was widely recognized by his distinctive handlebar moustache and Van Dyke beard, as well as his broadcasting catchphrase, "Holy Toledo!"

Bob DeLaney (sportscaster)

Robert Joseph DeLaney (born 1924 in Elmira, New York, died November 25, 2008 in Queens, New York) was an American sportscaster.

A 1942 graduate of Elmira Free Academy, DeLaney served in the United States Army in the Pacific theater during World War II. After returning to the States, he attended Syracuse University and worked with radio station WFBL in Syracuse. When the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves decided to separate their radio coverage in 1951, Curt Gowdy, Tom Hussey and DeLaney were hired to call Red Sox games on WHDH. At the end of the 1954 season, DeLaney was hired to replace Ernie Harwell on New York Giants broadcasts. When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, DeLaney was replaced by local announcer Lon Simmons.

After his stint with the Giants, DeLaney was hired as the announcer for live commercials for Atlantic Refining Company during New York Yankees games, a job he held for ten seasons. In April 1959, DeLaney became the announcer for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.

After the election, DeLaney worked as a television sports host in New York City from 1962–1968 and called the Ivy League Football Game of the Week on radio from 1964–1968. During the 1970s he served as narrator for the NFL Films Game of the Week, a disc jockey at WFAS in White Plains, New York, and a freelance commercial voiceover artist.

He died on November 25, 2008 from complications of a stroke at St. John's Queens Hospital.

Joe Starkey

Joe Starkey (born c. 1941) is an American sportscaster who has served as the radio play-by-play announcer of California Golden Bears football since 1975. He previously worked as the sports director of KGO radio in San Francisco, California and play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers for 20 seasons from 1989 to 2008.

Starkey is most famous for his frenetic call of The Play in the 1982 Big Game between Cal and Stanford: "Oh, the band is out on the field!" Starkey nearly lost his voice during and after this event, which he hailed as "the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!"

Russ Hodges

Russell Pleasant "Russ" Hodges (June 18, 1910 – April 19, 1971) was an American sportscaster who did play-by-play for several baseball teams, most notably the New York and San Francisco Giants.

BBWAA Vote
Veterans Committee
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
Ford C. Frick Award

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