San Francisco Giants
Baseball On The Radio
Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Bill Thompson
The Giants arrived in San Francisco from Manhattan in 1958, with the fabled Russ Hodges in tow as their primary play-by-play man. With the club’s radio broadcasts signed to a long-term contract with KSFO and the Golden West Radio Network, Hodges was teamed with KSFO’s sports director, Lon Simmons.
As a double-play radio combo for a dozen years, Hodges and Simmons were with few peers in the history of the game, equaled only by the legendary Mel Allen and Red Barber, who paired up on Yankees radiocasts from 1957 through 1964. (Hodges and Allen were the Yankees radio team from 1946 through 1948.)
Hodges, ill with cancer, left the Giants broadcast booth following the 1970 season, while Simmons — grieving after the death of his wife — departed after the 1973 season, replaced by Al Michaels and Art Eckman. Simmons returned in 1976 to partner with Michaels, who subsequently departed for fulltime employment with ABC Sports.
Already having built a solid national reputation, Michaels soared to prominence with his call of the shocking “Miracle On Ice” victory by the United States in ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Michaels’ departure created an opening for Joe Angel, who partnered with Simmons during the 1977 and 1978 seasons, the Giants’ final two years on KSFO. Angel, who was KSFO’s sports director at the time, would return to the team’s radio booth 25 years later as Jon Miller’s sidekick.
KSFO remained as the Giants radio flagship station through the 1978 season when the contract with the station expired. One rumored reason for the switch was resentment against KSFO owner Gene Autry, who, as owner of the California Angels, had voted against the Giants sale to Canada’s Labatt Brewing, which would have resulted in the team’s move to Toronto. (A more likely scenario is that powerhouse KNBR, owned by NBC, won the broadcast rights beginning in 1979 by offering significantly more money — reportedly up to $500,000 per season.)
Choosing to hire its own broadcast team rather than keeping the popular Simmons, KNBR selected Lindsey Nelson and Hank Greenwald as its play-by-play men. In 1997, the Giants hired Jon Miller as lead voice on radio. A Hayward High School and College of San Mateo product, Miller had first broadcast baseball professionally in 1974 as the 22-year-old sidekick to Monte Moore on Oakland A’s radio.
The Giants’ radio history during the team’s first half-century in San Francisco is a model of simplicity: from 1958 through 1978, KSFO (560 AM) served as the team’s flagship station; in 1979, the team’s broadcasts moved to 50,000-watt KNBR (680 AM). A complete listing of the Giants’ flagship stations and broadcasters follows:
KSFO (560 AM)
Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill King
|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|
|1979-1980||KNBR (680 AM)||Lindsey Nelson, Hank Greenwald|
|1981||KNBR (680 AM)||Lindsey Nelson, Hank Greenwald, Dave Glass|
|1982-1985||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Dave Glass|
|1986||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Phil Stone|
|1987-1988||KNBR (680 AM)||Ron Fairly, Wayne Hagin|
|1989-1991||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Ron Fairly|
|1992||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Ron Fairly, Duane Kuiper, Joe Morgan|
|1993||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Ted Robinson, Barry Tompkins|
|1994-1995||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Ted Robinson, Mike Krukow|
|1996||KNBR (680 AM)||Hank Greenwald, Ted Robinson, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow|
|1997-2001||KNBR (680 AM)||Jon Miller, Ted Robinson, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow|
|2002||KNBR (680 AM)||Jon Miller, Joe Angel, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Tim McCarver***|
|2003||KNBR (680 AM)||Jon Miller, Joe Angel, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Bruce Macgowan, Roxy Bernstein, Dave Flemming, Dave Raymond†|
|2004-2005||KNBR (680 AM)||Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Duane Kuiper, Greg Papa††|
|2006-||KNBR (680 AM)||Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Greg Papa††|
* — Rigney, the Giants manager from 1956 through 1960, had been the first manager of the California (née Los Angeles) Angels from 1961 until his firing in May 1969. He subsequently joined the Giants’ radio crew at the conclusion of the 1969 season. Both the Angels and KSFO, it should be noted, were owned at the time by Gene Autry and Robert O. Reynolds.
** — Hodges retired from fulltime broadcasting following the 1970 season and was scheduled to work on the air occasionally during the 1971 campaign, while also working in the Giants’ public relations department. He died suddenly of a heart attack on April 19, 1971.
*** — Hired as a fill-in “guest star” on Giants telecasts, McCarver also appeared occasionally on radio broadcasts during the 2002 season.
† — Macgowan, Bernstein, Flemming (radio voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox) and Raymond (radio voice of the Iowa Cubs) were used as fill-in broadcasters when Miller, Kuiper and Krukow had television commitments. Flemming was hired as #2 man in the Giants radio booth for the 2004 season.
†† — Papa generally served as lead announcer on Sunday broadcasts in the absence of Miller, who worked ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. Kuiper and Krukow, the team’s primary television play-by-play announcer and analyst, respectively, also occasionally filled in on weekend broadcasts as back-up to Papa and/or Flemming.
PHOTO SOURCE: San Francisco Giants archives.
LISTEN TO THE GIANTS ON THE AIR!
A retrospective of the Giants’ pennant-winning 1962 campaign, as presented by their flagship station, KSFO, featuring the voices of Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons — plus an occasional entry by the third man in the booth, Bill King.
The 1969 campaign is winding down, and there’s a packed house in the Chavez Ravine broadcast booth, with Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill Thompson and Bill Rigney taking turns at the mike.
A complete broadcast from Wrigley Field on KSFO and the Golden West Radio Network, with Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Bill Thompson calling the play-by-play.
To commemorate the Giants’ National League Western Division championship season, the team’s flagship station issued this souvenir disc. Produced by Stu Smith and Bob Texiera, the recording features the Giants play-by-play men, Lon Simmons and Bill Thompson, and an ad-libbed tribute to the season by KSFO morning man Jim Lange.
— Exhibit includes text and audio.