And Here Comes Bilko!

The four most electrifying words in Los Angeles in 1956 were, “And here comes Bilko!” The signature phrase of Bob Kelley, the voice of the Los Angeles Angels, was used to stir radio listeners when Steve Bilko came to bat with runners on base and a rally brewing. “And here comes Bilko!” Kelley screamed time and again.

Steve Bilko

Steve Bilko (Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library)

Bilko belted 10 home runs during spring training and then, started the regular season with a home run in his first at bat. The pitcher just happened to be San Diego’s Eddie Erautt, a former St. Louis Cardinals teammate who used to send Bilko postcards, unsigned, with the name of the slugger’s favorite beer, Kulmbacher, written on it.

Bilko hit one monster home run after another to finish with 55 and earn Minor League Player of the Year honors and inspire the team’s nickname, “The Bilko Athletic Club.” Many of his teammates had career years to establish the 1956 Angels as one of the greatest minor league teams in baseball history.

Somewhere Kelley is again shouting, “And here comes Bilko!”

The Bilko Athletic Club is a book published by Rowman & Littlefield about the 1956 Los Angeles Angels, a team of castoffs and kids built around a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs named Steve Bilko. The book features a delightful foreword by John Schulian, former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News and longtime contributor to Sports Illustrated and GQ.

The book can now be ordered by clicking on any of the website links below:

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