It is rather ironic that on the opening day of baseball season, one of the greatest voices in baseball history has gone silent. As Vin Scully is to the Dodgers, sportscaster Lon Simmons was to the SF Giants.
Growing up in the the SF Bay Area I heard many a great radio talent that later moved on to Los Angeles. Gary Owens, Casey Kasem, and Robert W. Morgen to name a few. Lon Simmons was not one of them. Lon spent his entire career in the bay area making the SF Giants, SF 49’ers and Oakland A’s games come to life.
He was close friends with all the Giant’s greats including Willie Mc Covey, and still closely associated with the Giants some 57 years after his first game back in 1958. His partner Russ Hodges had the famous call “Tell It Bye Bye Baby,” but Lon coined “You Can Tell That Ball Goodbye.”
My greatest (of many) wonderful childhood memories of Lon Simmons was the day Lon implied that Willie Mc Covey “may” have hit a ball that rolled all the way into the bay at Candlestick. In a post game interview, Lon told Mc Covey he had “never seen a ball hit that far”. Mc Covey’s response started (as it always did ) “Well that’s right Lon”, but then he added “I really knocked the s**t out of that one”. You could hear Lon covering the mike and saying “We’re on the air LIVE Willie.”
Lon’s passion, humility, class and humor and sarcasm were a big part of his broadcast career. He had a tremendous impact. I can still remember where I was, and what I was doing that day, pulling weeds for my 97 year old neighbor, whose son worked at KNBR. (although the Giants games were on KSFO back in those days).
Thanks to you Lon, I will always “tell that ball goodbye” !!!!!!!