Athletics

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

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Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

One does not easily earn the "Voice of God" moniker, but when it came to Roy Steele, nothing else would do. 

The long-time public address announcer for the A's passed away Thursday at his home in Auburn, leaving behind a tremendous legacy as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the game. The A's released a team statement acknowledging his vast contributions to the history of the franchise.

"As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball," the statement said. "Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."

Steele began his tenure as the A's PA announcer starting in 1968 and remained in the position through 2005, though he did make occasional appearances during the 2007-08 season. He covered over 3,000 A's games, including six World Series and an All-Star Game. Throughout his 38 years at the helm, he only missed five days of work.

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His death comes during a sad week for the Oakland franchise. On Sunday, Chester Farrow, who operated the scoreboard at the Coliseum for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 77.

Whenever MLB resumes, one would imagine both longtime employees will be honored.

Mike Fiers putting Astros cheating scandal behind him, moving forward

Mike Fiers putting Astros cheating scandal behind him, moving forward

Mike Fiers arrived at the A’s media availability on Zoom Tuesday wearing a hoodie and removed his facemask -- but it wasn’t the one he had made for the team sporting his infamous facial hair.

The facial hair caused national attention, and that spotlight is something the A’s veteran pitcher is used to. He was the one who held the national spotlight after unearthing the Houston Astros of their cheating ways back in November. Fiers revealed in an interview with The Athletic last year that his former team would steal signs electronically during their 2017 World Series run. 

He’s ready to move on from that now, however.

“Yeah, we’re not worried about that,” Fiers told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re focused on us as the A’s -- there are a lot more teams than Houston.”

“Right now, if we’re worried about that, we’re thinking in the wrong thought process going forward. We’re trying to get ready for the season, we know what we have to do to do that. Being out here, competing, practicing together and getting everything right for Day 1.”

The A’s will play the Astros this season, as they usually do, but this time around, it will feel quite different. The combination of no fans in the stands and months going by could make it feel strange.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter -- I guess it’s not something to think about, like I said, just the game of baseball is what we need to think about right now.”

And it appears that’s working in his favor.

He trained in the offseason/hiatus quite a bit -- in between creating TikToks and playing “Call of Duty.” And although he showed up late as a precautionary measure after training partner Jesús Luzardo tested positive for coronavirus, he has looked good, according to A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“[Fiers] has proved that he ended up being really good for this team,” Melvin said Tuesday.

“Probably not as far along as a couple of guys at this point based on the fact that he had to sit down for a couple days, but if anybody could make it up in a hurry it’s him.”

Melvin also said he watched Fiers’ bullpen yesterday and was able to get a different view, complimenting his sinker and a late cutter.

[RELATED: Khris Davis ready to move on from down 2019 season]

“You understand without the velocity, why he continues to be so consistent, and so good and is always looking to add some stuff on," Melvin added.

Fiers looks to be a part of the A’s starting rotation this season and said he will be pitching against the Giants next week during their scheduled exhibition games.

Tony Kemp overwhelmed by A's, community support on '+1 Effect' campaign

Tony Kemp overwhelmed by A's, community support on '+1 Effect' campaign

Tony Kemp arranged to have 60-70 shirts promoting his +1 Effect campaign sent to Oakland Coliseum during A’s training camp, enough for everyone on the team’s roster and staff.

The veteran second baseman may have ordered too many.

Matt Olson, Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks, Jake Diekman and assistant hitting coach Eric Martins had already bought shirts on their own.

Kemp was moved by that. He’s relatively new to the A’s, an offseason signing who spent a few weeks with the Green and Gold before baseball shut down over the coronavirus pandemic.

He wasn’t sure how much immediate (and unsolicited) team support to expect when he started the +1 Effect, a campaign designed to snuff out racism one individual conversation at a time. That question mark was answered quickly, with manager Bob Melvin sent a text of support early in the process. Then he saw teammates lining up behind him.

“It was cool to see that they bought shirts on their own and are out supporting the cause,” Kemp said in a Monday video conference. “That’s a big deal. I’ve only been with this team for a couple of months now, and to see how people have been respecting and going after the campaign means a lot. It means your teammates have your back and have been supportive. I’m incredibly happy with that.”

Kemp pushed forward with a bold, time consuming and rewarding enterprise shortly after George Floyd was killed while in police custody. That prompted protests across the country and brought the underlying, systemic racism that exists here into mainstream consciousness.

Kemp pondered ways of joining the fight against racism and police brutality against Black Americans and decided to attack it through individual conversations. The +1 Effect quickly grew in popularity and was making an impact on an individual level. His Instagram inbox swelled as the press got hold of it, but Kemp has remained committed to this cause even with Kemp back to work in A’s camp.

“My wife and I were going through 120 message requests that I had on Instagram that we went through today,” Kemp said. “We’re still trying to push the ideas through and get our point across with the +1 campaign. It’s going well. You see a lot of people being changed. It’s a true blessing to impact people in the way that we have.”

[RACE AND SPORTS IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

Those message requests don’t receive a pamphlet. They largely get a callback and a conversation trying to change minds about topics involved with racism plain to see and issues more covert.

"When you have conversations like this, you have to have an open mind and a calm spirit,” Kemp said. “If you just start yelling at each other or one person gets upset, you just have to remain calm. I think that’s how I have been getting through to people, by saying, ‘I hear you. I understand you. But please listen to this experience, maybe watch this documentary or read this book.’

“It’s all about your tone, honestly. Being able to relay that message to them, I think that has created a better understanding because conversations they normally have with someone of another point of view is that someone gets upset and storms out, and nothing gets accomplished. Being able to be open-minded and calm with these situations show where it has been going in a positive direction.”

[RELATED: Franklin Barreto ahead in A's second base race, competition remains]

Kemp admits the campaign’s impact has exceeded original expectations and has fueled him to keep the effort going.

“It has been therapeutic to hear the responses and hear how people have been responding to it,” Kemp said. “It makes me feel great. it makes me feel that, with a platform and with a voice, you can tell people that they too have a voice even if they think they don’t. Being able to let people talk to their inner circles and understand that what we’re doing is very positive. I have been sleeping very well at night knowing that I feel like I have been helping change the world. I can say it has.”