EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.
It was one of the most iconic plays in Raiders’ history, and Bill King punctuated it with a reference to the ample backside of Raiders coach John Madden.
Who can forget the legendary broadcaster’s call of the almost equally legendary “Holy Roller” that produced a 21-20 Raiders’ victory against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 10, 1978:
“The ball, flipped forward, is loose! A wild scramble, two seconds on the clock … Casper grabbing the ball…it is ruled a fumble … Casper has recovered in the end zone!! The Oakland Raiders have scored on the most zany, unbelievable, absolutely impossible dream of a play! Madden is on the field. He wants to know if it’s real. They said yes, get your big butt out of here! He does!
“There’s nothing real in the world anymore! The Raiders have won the football game! The Chargers … they don’t believe it. Fifty-two thousand people are stunned. This one will be relived forever!”
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 4, 2018
Bill King, who died in 2005, was right about that.
But here are five non-Raiders tidbits about the longtime voice of the team the casual Raider fan may not have known, as told by King’s Oakland A’s broadcast partner Ken Korach of Las Vegas in his book “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic”:
1. He was an aficionado and patron of the ballet and served on the board of directors of the Smuin Ballet. In fact, members of the ballet company performed at his memorial ceremony at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 6, 2013
2. He and his wife Nancy were accomplished sailors. They sailed to Hawaii and back, sailed the Black Sea and to British Columbia and back. They had, over the many years, several boats that were docked in Sausalito Harbor. (Despite reports to the contrary, they never lived on the boat, except for a stretch after a fire at their house.)
— AFL GODFATHER (@NFLMAVERICK) December 29, 2017
3. He had a fascination and was well-versed in Russian history and literature. Tom Meschery, the ex-Warriors basketball star, deserves a big assist for that. Meschery, known as “The Mad Russian” during his playing days — Tom’s parents were born in Russia and he was born in Harbin in northern China — called Bill “the brother I never had.”
Tom Meschery recounts his relationship w/ the great Bill King & much more in our 'Catching Up' series. VIDEO & INTERVIEW: http://ow.ly/6DtYm
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) September 25, 2011
4. He was an accomplished painter who drew much of his inspiration from The Impressionists. Claude Monet was his favorite painter. Bill used to go to the Marin County countryside to take photos of landscapes and then paint them at his home.
— AFL GODFATHER (@NFLMAVERICK) July 30, 2017
5. He never liked to be thanked by his broadcast partner. This was a request Ken Korach stubbornly refused while speaking during King’s memorial service.
“Sorry partner,” Korach said. “But thanks for everything.”