Celebrating 25 years of broadcasting excellence, the Astros salute Brownie.
Bill Brown’s list of his favorite Astros moments and his list of his favorite Astros moments that he’s broadcast from the television booth are quite different.
Anyone affiliated with the Astros probably couldn’t name any single moment that was better than their pennant-clinching win over the Cardinals in 2005. It’s likely “Brownie” feels the same way. But because television broadcasters who work for the teams do not call postseason games — those jobs go to network announcers — the local TV guys miss out.
(In fact, Brownie was in Houston when the Astros clinched the pennant. He’d heard that downtown was the place to be, so he drove down, walked around the streets for a while and took in the scene. Apparently, thousands had flocked to downtown to celebrate. Wonder if anyone noticed a popular TV announcer walking around by himself amid the chaos.)
Anyhoo, that leaves the list of Brownie’s favorite moments limited to regular-season only. His favorite? Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit in 2007. But other moments aren’t far behind, such as the last game in 2004 when Brandon Backe, subbing for an ill Roger Clemens, pitched well enough against the Rockies to help the Astros clinch the Wild Card.
Also special to Brownie was the last game in the Astrodome in 1999. The division title was on the line, and the Astros were ready to close down the old haunts and move to their new downtown ballpark. The Dome was packed to the gills and most of the best-known names from Astros teams in the past had come back for the celebration. Better yet, the Astros won the game to clinch their third consecutive NL Central title.
“There was all this pressure to win and go to the playoffs, all of the old players were back, the confetti was coming down from the ceiling,” Brownie recalled. “That was just a wonderful, wonderful day.”
Another wonderful day arrived on Saturday, when the Astros commemorated Brownie’s 25th year as their play-by-play television announcer. During a pregame ceremony attended by Brownie, his wife, Dianne, his daughter Allison, son-in-law Alan, grandkids Luke, Emma and C.C. and his sister, Jessica, the Astros presented their longtime employee with a video tribute and commemorative shadowbox. FS Houston also presented Brownie with a crystal microphone.
Some interesting factoids about Brownie and his illustrious career, spanning 32 years:
* His biggest broadcast influence as a child was Jack Buck, Cardinals Hall of Fame broadcaster.
* He lists Larry Dierker and Jim Deshaies as the biggest influences on his broadcasting career. “They each influenced me a great deal with their knowledge of the game, their humor, their storytelling abilities and their gift of communicating.”
* Of the most unusual games he’s called, two stand out above the rest: The 22-inning game on June 3, 1989 against the Dodgers, a 5-4 Astros win that took seven hours, 14 minutes to complete. Also, on July 2, 2009, the Astros-Padres game was delayed for close to an hour due to a swarm of bees at PETCO Park. “That was certainly one of the most unusual things you’ll ever see,” Brownie said.
* When he was 18, he landed his first broadcasting job at KDRO Radio in Sedalia, Missouri, during news and play-by-play of area high school sporting events.
* While in the service, Brownie became a U.S. Army broadcast specialist working as a sportscaster for the Armed Forces Vietnam Network in Saigon from 1970-71.
* He was a part of the Cincinnati Reds broadcasting team from 1976-82. In 1987, the Astros hired the 39-year-old and paired him with Dierker for road broadcasts and Bill Worrell for home broadcasts.
A highlight of the Bill Brown celebration was the highly-anticipated distribution of the Brownie and J.D. Bobblehead dolls. The clay versions really resemble the real Brownie and J.D., from J.D.’s glasses, goatee and…”shiny” head to Brownie’s thick silvery hair and piercing blue eyes.
Pretty close to the real thing, don’t you think?
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