An A's Link From the 1918-19 Flu to the COVID-19 Pandemic of Today

Athletics' broadcaster Ken Korach's father was born in the age of the Spanish Flu and is hanging in there in the coronavirus frenzy sounding us. But in an age of social distancing, Ken and Simon Korach can only connect by telephone.
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A’s radio voice Ken Korach misses his father terribly.

Simon Korach is 101 and has some health issues, but he is basically doing as well as could be expected in this time of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Korach was due to see his father early next week when the A’s were scheduled to play a three-game set against the Angels in Anaheim starting Monday. Simon Korach lives in Los Angeles, and with each visit to Anaheim, Korach takes advantage to drive north and spend time with his father.

Of course, there is no baseball anywhere right now thanks to the national stay-at-home response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, so there is no trip to Anaheim on the agenda.

And while the 68-year-old Korach is at home in suburban Las Vegas, he can’t risk getting in his car and driving to Southern California for a visit. Korach and his wife, Denise, are following the medically suggested guidelines and are staying at home. So is his father, so all father and son can do is talk on the phone, which they do, daily.

There is a certain irony is this. Simon Korach was born on Feb. 16, 1919, which was when the last comparable pandemic, the so-called Spanish Flu, swept the planet.

“He is a source of inspiration to me,” Korach said of his father. “For years he celebrated his birthday on Feb. 17. It wasn’t until much later that we found out that because the chaos of that 1919 epidemic, he’d been born on the 16 in Akron, Ohio, but they hadn’t had enough free time to certify the birth until the next day.

“This is a guy who lived through the depression and fought in England (in World War II) with the 482nd bomb group of the 8 Army Air Force Bomb Group. He was part of the ground support and he was coach of all the sports teams.”

This is just the third time in three decades when Korach wasn’t broadcasting baseball in April. The other two, he says, “happened when I was on the disabled list.”

“What we have today,” he said, “this is different.”

And it’s problematic.

“I would have seen my dad next week, for sure,” he said. “Not broadcasting games is a concern because he listens to our games. That kept him engaged.”

Korach was actually with his father when news of the postponement of baseball came down. Simon Korach had been ill, and Ken left spring training in early March while Cactus League games were still being played to be with him.

Now that he’s home in Vegas, Korach is trying to stay busy, even with no baseball happening. He does lots of audio and video promos for the A’s, he does some voiceovers of videos submitted by A’s fans, and he and Denise take walks when they can.

“We’re just like everybody else during what is a crazy time,” he said. “I like doing the voiceovers for the videos that fans send in. If it can give people a reason to smile and if it can provide a diversion and a sense of normalcy in a time of abnormality, it’s good for them and very therapeutic for me.”