Monday, April 6, 2015

People Who Listen to Baseball Games on the Radio Will Miss You, Lon Simmons

1958-1962 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill King
1963-1964 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons
1965-1968 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson
1969 KSFO (560 AM) Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson, Bill Rigney*
1970-1971 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson, Russ Hodges**
1972-1973 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson
1974-1975 KSFO (560 AM) Al Michaels, Art Eckman
1976 KSFO (560 AM) Al Michaels, Lon Simmons
1977-1978 KSFO (560 AM) Lon Simmons, Joe Angel

Lon did San Francisco 49er games from 1957-1980 and 1987 to 1988. He left the Giants to broadcast Oakland A's games from 1981-1995. I always felt like the Giants got what they deserved when the A's swept the Giants and Lon got to call a World Series champion when KSFO cut him lose without 'splainin' themselves.

His call of Jim Marshall 'running the wrong way' at Kezar Stadium in a 49ers vs. Vikings game was vintage Lon. Or his description of Steve Young 'getting away again' through the ravaged Viking defense to score a 49-yard touchdown in 1988 in what was an amazing run. I should know, I (along with schoolmate Alan Kern) was there!

I used to enjoy the way he would teach me about a player's strengths and how the real good players would turn a weakness into a strength because they were students of the game. They were always looking for ways to be one step ahead of their opponent. Like if they knew the pitcher was throwing to the outside corner, to shade that batter in that direction anticipating the whereabouts of the ball once the batter swung.

Of course, there were always the exceptions to the rule when a batter hit the ball off the end of his bat and the ball squibbed in an unlikely direction. But that was baseball. You learned to accept the unexpected especially when your home field was Candlestick Park.

As one who tunes into the radio to follow a baseball game I miss those announcers who paint the word picture. To me, it IS better than being at the game. I can keep score and tell you exactly what happened because as a listener, a fan of his spoken word, I remembered it as if it were something I myself had written down. And the more I listened to what he had to say I too could anticipate a word or two and just be in sync with whatever story he was telling his audience.

Thanks for the memories Lon. You did the game right.

Kevin J. Marquez