He was giant, a Giants legend, to be sure–but Lon Simmons, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91, was much more than just a one team voice.
For me, growing up in the Bay Area in the early ’80s, I associate Lon Simmons most closely with A’s radio broadcasts. After his original run with the Giants (a period that extended back to the team’s move to San Francisco in 1958, when he was partnered with Russ Hodges), Simmons teamed with another Bay Area broadcasting legend, Bill King*, from 1981 to 1995 on the Athletics’ radio broadcasts. It’s those games I remember from back in the day: as a kid, laying in bed listening to the late innings of a lengthy game before I fell asleep; hearing that familiar voice echoing in the back kitchen that summer I spent working at a local pizza joint; riding around in the car on a lazy summer day with the A’s game on the radio. Simmons was as much a part of the fabric of my young life as anyone–even minus his work with the Giants and 49ers. It’s a hell of a thing to think that someone who defined my experience as a baseball fan is now gone. My condolences to his family, and to all the fans his work touched over the years. In retirement he has been sorely missed; his leaving only deepens that sorrow.
You can check out some of Simmons’s calls here, courtesy the Bay Area Radio Museum.
*All of the above goes for Bill King as well. King, who died back in 2005, remains unfairly overlooked outside the Bay Area; he is not in any sport’s hall of fame, though he should at least by in both the baseball and basketball halls, and probably the pro football hall of fame as well.