OAKLAND -- As the sound of clattering plates and tinkling glasses filled the banquet hall, A's broadcaster Ken Korach told diners that this was the ideal setting to discuss his new book about Bill King.
King, the legendary broadcaster who died in 2005, loved to eat. Anything within reach would do. King was known to have Cheetos for breakfast or a slab of butter stolen off a room-service tray as a midnight snack.
King even munched while on the air, although his radio audience would never know it by listening to the supreme diction that made him a Bay Area legend. Korach once asked his radio partner of 10 years how he pulled that off.
"Well, you kind of store the food like a chipmunk," King replied. "And you just keep talking."
King lived the rest of his life the same way, treating each day like an all-you-can-eat buffet. He devoured Russian literature, the ballet, Monet, sailing and the opera. He was himself a remarkable self-taught.
King was better known, of course, for his full helping of the Bay Area sporting scene. King was the lead broadcaster for the A's, Warriors and Raiders at one time or another.
"This was a man of incredible diversity, an incredibly worldly person," Korach told a meeting of the A's Booster Club at Francesco's Restaurant in Oakland last week.
Korach sets out to capture it all his first book, "Holy Toledo -- Lessons From Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic," released last week by Wellstone Books.
Originally envisioned as a personal tale of his time with King, Korach instead tracked down the subject of King's most famous calls, such as Rick Barry and John Madden, as well as other broadcast partners, such as Hank Greenwald.
Korach even interviewed Ed Rush, the NBA referee and target of King's infamous moment behind the mike. On Dec. 6, 1968, infuriated by Rush's traveling call against the Warriors just before overtime, King switched off his mic and bellowed an expletive at the official. The only problem? An undetected crowd microphone picked up the profanity and sent it over the airwaves. Among those who heard it was owner Franklin Mieuli, listening on his car radio as he drove through the Santa Cruz Mountains.
A family paper can't print exactly what King said, but it's worth noting that the segment became known as the "Mother's Day" incident.
Contacted for the book, Rush was happy to relive the incident and, to Korach's surprise, spoke with great affection for King. They became friends and Rush recounted how years later he hand-delivered a card to King with the inscription, "You don't know how hard it is to find a Mother's Day card in December."
The book, however, focuses more on King's better vocabulary choices. Many of King's best calls are transcribed in full, including the Raiders' "Holy Roller" game in 1978 in which King explains: "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!"
Korach also took pains to include calls he believes have been unjustly forgotten, such as King's description of Kirk Gibson's home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Because it was a Dodgers victory, people tend to remember the call by Vin Scully or even Jack Buck.
Korach thinks King's own majestic call deserves a spot in that pantheon, so he transcribed the entire at-bat. It takes five pages. In typical fashion, King set the scene: "Now, it's 3-2 as Gibson has battled back from two strikes. Oh, the moment is reaching excruciatingly dramatic proportions! The tying run is now at second and it will not take much to get Davis in. Eck has not thrown that backdoor slider to Gibson. Here's the pitch."
There's an ulterior motive to this project: Korach wants to see his partner enshrined in the Hall of Fames. That's fames, plural. King's first love was baseball but he was no less vivid in describing the NFL or the NBA. The books epilogue makes the case for King's enshrinement.
Of course, if there were a Hall of Fame for eating, King would be a first-ballot inductee. There's an entire chapter dedicated to King's culinary exploits. It's called "Tortillas with Onions and Peanut Butter: Bill and Food."
"There were certain elements of working with Bill that you had to take with a grain of salt," Korach said. "Or in his case, many slabs of butter."
Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.