Bill King (minors03)
William Byron King
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 215 lb.
Bill King made it to AAA for two years before ending his baseball career.
King was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 1994 amateur draft, following their selections of Ben Grieve and Brad Rigby and ahead of Jason Beverlin, Ryan Drese and Emil Brown. In his pro debut, he performed well for the Southern Oregon A's (1 H, 0 R in 3 IP) and West Michigan Whitecaps (2-1, 4 Sv, 1.81 in 17 G). In '95, the big right-hander was a swingman for West Michigan, going 9-7 with 2 saves and a 3.34 ERA.
Bill was a workhorse for the 1996 Modesto A's, going 16-4 with a save and a 4.75 ERA. He allowed 193 hits in 163 innings, but walked only 40. He led A's farmhands in wins and innings. He was win one shy of California League leader Darin Blood. In the affiliated minors, he tied Carl Pavano and four others for fourth in wins, one behind Blood, Elvin Hernandez and Ted Silva.
In 1997, the Florida native fell to 9-7 but lowered his ERA to 4.19 with the Huntsville Stars. His control was better yet, with 28 walks in 176 innings. He was 7th in the Southern League in ERA, between Derrin Evert and Jason Stevenson. He was the top pitcher on the league's top regular-season squad, which boasted a powerful offense of Mike Neill, Grieve, D.T. Cromer, Miguel Tejada and Mike Coolbaugh.
King made it to AAA with the 1998 Edmonton Trappers but had major struggles (8-13, 6.56, 162 H in 120 2/3 IP, 57 K after 103 in '97). He led Oakland minor leaguers in defeats, as well as pacing the entire 1998 Pacific Coast League in that category. While the PCL was a high-scoring environment, his ERA was well ahead of the team total of 4.54. He returned to AAA with the Vancouver Canadians in '99, trying to fight for starting turns with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Kevin Jarvis, Brett Laxton, Ron Mahay and Blake Stein (Barry Zito and Kevin Gregg each surfaced for a start as well). He wound up mostly in relief and had a productive campaign at 9-6, 3.49 with four saves in 45 games (7 starts). King had a better ERA than teammates Stein and Mulder. On April 13, he had a memorable day; he tossed the 5th through 8th innings of a combined no-hitter against the Oklahoma RedHawks. He relieved Terry Clark (who had a perfect game but was on two days' rest in subbing for an injured Mike Oquist) and kept up the perfect game in the 5th. In the 6th, Carlos Villalobos reached on an error. King was relieved by Anthony Chavez in the 9th and he wrapped up the no-hitter. Vancouver won the 1999 AAA World Series.
He still had a year left on his contract at season's end, but opted to end his baseball career. He would say: "I had made a decision with myself that if I ever had to repeat the same level or if it just didn't look like it was going to work out, I was going to get out."
Overall, King was 53-38 with 11 saves and a 4.28 ERA in 174 games (103 starts). He walked only 193 batters in 753 2/3 innings for his career.
After baseball, King worked as a stock broker and financial adviser. While he was eventually managing over $43 million in assets, he decided that he did not want a desk job. He made the choice of joining the Army, starting basic training when he was 34 years old. In 2007-2008, King served in Iraq as a second lieutenant. He then became executive officer of C Company, Special Troops Battalion, I Corps.
He has no regrets about giving up baseball, King later said, but a lot of memories.