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‘Voice of God’ graces Raley Field

Roy Steele, the original stadium announcer for the Oakland A’s, returns to the booth to call a Valley Christian game
By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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WEST SACRAMENTO — A Raley Field gathering and the Valley Christian Academy and Rio Linda baseball teams were treated to quite an experience March 8.

A decisive, precise, clear voice called out every batter and substitution major league style. This voice has had quite a career, calling out names such as Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson and Jason Giambi over and over again.

This voice, coined the “Voice of God” by Hall-of-Fame announcer Jon Miller, belonged to Roy Steele. So revered by the A’s franchise and its fans, Steele even has a bobblehead in his likeness.

“It’s an absolute, absolute honor,” Valley Christian head coach Brad Gunter Jr. said. “He is a legend. He is a great guy. He’s a funny guy, too. It is such an honor for him to come out.”

Steele became the original stadium announcer at the Coliseum in Oakland when the A’s moved from Kansas City in 1968. He’s also the grandfather of 2002 VCA graduate Titus Mejia. In Mejia’s senior year, Steele called a memorial game for the Lions to honor a friend of Mejia’s who died of cancer.

Now 80, Steele traveled down I-80 from his home in Auburn and sat in the press box at Raley Field, microphone in hand, and filled the air with his familiar baritone voice.

“Voice of God” is a great nickname, but “Man of Steele” might be more fitting. Through 2004, he missed fewer than 10 A’s home games. But in 2005, he contracted Achalasia, a rare esophagus disorder. Also, Steele recently finished chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

“I’ve had to dodge a lot of bullets,” said Steele, who has regular scans to look out for cancer and other illnesses. “I’ve had quite a bit of trouble the last six or seven years.”

For 17 years, Steele was a Baptist minister. Before the game, he spoke to the Valley Christian team, emphasizing the importance of hard work and living right. While he jokingly admitted to a weakness for winter sports, Steele is an all-around sports fan.

“I’ve always been a sports nut,” he said. “I love to play sports, all of them. Not just one, I try to do everything, although I’m not good at ice skating and not a good skier.”

The Lions put on a show for Steele and the audience, defeating Rio Linda 2-1 in nine innings. Caleb Van Patten’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth scored Zach Sween with the winning run. Sween tripled to lead off the inning.

Several Lions players were battling the flu, including starting pitcher Jeremiah Moore, who struck out 12 in seven innings. Jimmy Shaw took the bump to finish the final two scoreless innings.

“(Moore) was pretty good,” Gunter said. “Considering he was very, very sick, it was an absolute gutsy performance. He had good stuff, especially his off-speed pitch. As the game went on, he actually got better.”