Astros Broadcaster Milo Hamilton to Retire, Finally

Categories: Baseball, Sports

HOFA Milo.jpg
So long, Milo.
Milo Hamilton's announcing his retirement today. It's a day I never thought would come, and the only thing I'm upset about is that he'll still do the games this season.

I've never understood his appeal to listeners. Then again, I grew up with Gene Elston as the voice of the Astros, and those two couldn't have been more opposite in style. Elston came out of the Vin Scully school of baseball broadcasting. A matter-of-fact storytelling approach of painting a picture, placing the listener inside the stadium.

The Scully style involves constantly giving the score and the inning of the game. The listener knows who is at bat, the pitcher and the number of outs. The listener always knows the ball/strike count. If there's a runner on base, one would know what base the runner was on. If there was a detail of the game that needed to be known, then Gene Elston made sure the listener knew that detail.

Hamilton's style is approximate to that of the late Harry Caray. It's loud and obnoxious. The game is secondary to Hamilton because to Hamilton, the listener's not tuning in for the game, the listener's tuning in to hear him. So you hear about lunch, and about that day's golf game. There are details about breakfast, and what dinner will be. You'll hear about people in the stands, and there will be a lot of stories about guys who played baseball 50 years ago. What you won't get are any actual details of the game. And if you're stuck listening to the game in your car, then it can be 15-20 minutes to hear the score or what inning the game's in.

Hamilton's booth partners used to be able to steer him back to the game, or get out the details themselves. But Larry Dierker became the manager. Jim Deshaies got pushed out of the radio booth. Alan Ashby was great about slipping in what actually just happened on the field, and then he got forced out. Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond do good jobs when they're on their own, but when they're working with Hamilton, it's like they've figured out that they won't keep their jobs if they dare to correct him on air.

I'll admit I'm going to miss Hamilton welcoming fake people or corporations to the game. I've heard him welcome Ari Gold and Associates to the game, and the Vincent Chase Group. He's welcomed Ron Burgundy in the past. He's got no clue that they're not real, and it makes for some fun listening. But frankly, I'd rather know what's happening in the game.

Gene Elston.jpg
Gene Elston, the true voice of the Houston Astros
I'm not going to miss the sexual harassment seminar that goes on in the booth whenever a female guest has to sit in and talk about whatever product or group is the big sponsor that night. And I could never figure out why the Astros kept sending in that woman from the sales department to talk about the giveaways, because all he would do would be to hit on her like he was hanging out in some singles bar.

Who knows what happens after this season? I can only assume that Raymond and Dolan will keep on in their roles. Here's hoping the team brings in an analyst like Dierker or Ashby who has played the game and knows what's going through the heads of the players.

But no matter what happens, of this I'm hopeful: The focus of the radio broadcast will return to the actual baseball game. I never want to hear about a broadcaster's lunch again, or about a game he called in 1923 that's not relevant to anything happening in the game being played on the field.

And remember one thing. No matter what you'll hear this season, Milo Hamilton is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's a recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, which is presented by the Hall of Fame to members of the media for their contributions to baseball. They are not, however, actually inducted into the Hall of Fame, and they do not receive a plaque inside the actual Hall.

So there are now two reasons to look forward to the 2013 season: Carlos Lee's contract will have expired, and Milo Hamilton will no longer be calling the games on the radio. We've just got to make it through the 2012 first. And no matter what, the true voice of the Houston Astros will always be Gene Elston.


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23 comments
Mr. Elvis
Mr. Elvis

Taking the advice "know thy enemy" to heart, I read Milo's autobiography. In it he mentioned how whenever he was in Chicago he would sprinkie peanuts on the statue of Harry Carey to attract pigeons so they would do what pigeons usually do to statues. I make this promise to all true Astros fans, if there is ever a statue built of Milo, I will personally take a crap on it. Milo practically ruined baseball for me and Selig finished the job by moving the Astros to the AL.

Ajaxvondemme
Ajaxvondemme

Classic. A well-written homage to a loon.

Famijoly
Famijoly

The firing of Gene Elston is the worst dismissal in the history of the Houston Astros.  Even though, as TheWayThingsAre indicated, Milo Hamilton was a serviceable Major League play-by-play announcer, I've never been able to warm up to him as the lead broadcaster for the Astros because of his role in pushing out the best play-by-play announcer the Astros have ever had by far. 

Unfortunately, John Royal's column is not exaggerated.  That Hamilton was allowed to thrive despite a well-earned reputation as an egotistical, ogling, classless boor falls on the shoulders of John McMullen and the incredibly baseball clueless Drayton McLane, Jr.  And now Jim Crane is giving Milo the grandest of exits.  What an organization this Houston franchise has become!

Granted this is second-hand, but it is from a man I trust who worked for several years as an usher at the Astrodome; his time there were the last few years before Minute Maid Park opened.  He was stationed on the Club Level, just outside the press box area. A couple of things he told me he observed have stood out:  1) during Astros-Brewers series, Milo and Bob Ueker would really yuck it up like old buddies, and 2) prior to one particular Astros-Braves game in 1998, the year after Harry Caray died, Milo got into it, nose to nose, with Skip Caray, so heatedly that this usher was on the verge of summoning security.  One can imagine Skip's anger in encountering a man who publicly referred to his father, even in death, as "a miserable human being." 

I won't go so far as to call Milo Hamilton what he called Harry Caray.  But Milo Hamilton is a miserable broadcaster.  Houston baseball fans deserve better.

missmsry
missmsry

First, I can't understand a word the man says.  Secondly, when I can understand what he says, he isn't saying anything related to the game,  Thirdly, I thought he died about ten years ago.

John
John

Check out the comments on the Chronicle today regarding Milos' departure. At last count there were about 175 and about 170 of them reflected the author's opinon.

Honcho
Honcho

Look, I'm not a Milo fan by any stretch, but using this forum as a personal platform to diss a man who has been doing this for decades is a little extreme.

On the flip side, I wish the Rockets would bring back Calvin Murphy for TV broadcasts. He was polarizing, but definitely entertaining and knew how to verbalize what was happening on the court. Plus the perfect partner for Worrell.

Matt Bullard is tolerable, but Clyde is a fucking joke. I actually stopped watching Rockets home games b/c of him.

And on the radio side, regardless of the sport, Gene Petersen is the gold standard in Houston. Even better than Elston.

UH Coog
UH Coog

Thank you so much for calling it like it is.  I have never liked Milo and wish he would have never been hired here.  My only disappointment with his retirement is that it won't happen until the end of the season.  Gene Elston got hosed when they fired him for this buffoon.

yo
yo

Please don't liken this bitter, self-absorbed, arrogant piece of shit to the late, great Harry Caray.  Milo had some kind of falling out with Harry around the time both were in Chicago (Milo was probably pissed that Harry invented the schtick he has since attempted to imitate/steal, with no success of course).  Milo has since told anyone who would listen that, in his opinion, Harry was the worst man who ever lived and blah, blah, blah.

Harry was always a much better broadcaster and will always be much more loved.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Correction: "the true voice of Houston major league baseball will always be Gene Elston."

"In 1961, Elston joined veteran radio broadcaster Loel Passe to announce the final season of Houston's minor league franchise, the Houston Buffs. With the expansion of the major league and the inaugural 1962 season of the Houston Colt 45s, Elston was chosen to lead the radio broadcast. (Loel Passe stayed on as the color commentator with Elston until Passe retired in 1986.) "

big red
big red

It looks to me like 2012 will be a good year to totally ignore the Astros. They will suck on the field,  and basically we are just waiting for the 2013 season to start. It will be like a reverse Christmas - not what we are getting, but what we are getting rid of.

TheWayThingsAre
TheWayThingsAre

Yikes, a little bit harsh, don't you think? I followed Milo in Hotlanta, and was happy to hear him in Houston. He is a classic and he is leaving the stage, give him a break. He brought his unique viewpoint and personality to the game, and a computer could give the innings and scores. I always enjoyed his colorful dialogue and will miss him. Thanks for the memories, Milo - and God Speed...

B-B-B-B
B-B-B-B

I grew up listening to the great Harry Carey and Jack Buck call the Cardinals games so listening (something I refused to do after a couple games) seemed like lower minor league.  Then when Harry passed, Milo show how classless he was with his comments.  

Milo just go away TODAY, only a few will miss you

Jim C
Jim C

The only reason Milo is considered to be a "Hall of Fame broadcaster" is because he was the lucky slob in the booth the day Hank Aaron broke the home run record.  Remember that, folks.  Luck, not skill.

MadMac
MadMac

"I've never understand his appeal to listeners. Then again, I grew up with Gene Elston as the voice of the Astros, and those two couldn't have been more opposite in style."

Boy-howdie; my feeble interest in the Astros waned with Mr. Elston's departure. 

MadMac
MadMac

"Thirdly, I thought he died about ten years ago."  He did, they're just getting around to telling him.

Johnthec
Johnthec

Its pretty epic and across the board.  Probably the one topic at the chron that can get universal and just about unanimous support.

David Beebe
David Beebe

Kuppenheimer! Back in the salad days of the NBA!

Jim C
Jim C

I do miss seeing which sofa pattern Murph was willing to turn into a suit on any given day.

David Beebe
David Beebe

One of the few things Hofheinz did that had real staying power in the pre-mega millions era of MLB. Classic broadcasting. And- when Scott clinched the division in '86 on the no-hitter (usually given as the moment McMullen had enough with Elston's laid-back, no-nosense style) Elston's silence as the crowd went insane was the ultimate in professionalism and historically pertinent baseball class. I couldn't believe it when he was fired, although I thought Milo did a great job for the first ten years of his 'Stros career- DB

mollusk
mollusk

I recall when a "Lowell Passe is bullish on the Astros" billboard going up on the Southwest Freeway mysteriously had its progress halted halfway through "bullish."  

It's easier to keep up with the game just listening to Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies - to the point that I crank up a TV even if I'm in the next room or something.

stro-man
stro-man

Hot diggity dog and sassafras tea! Now you're chunkin' in there!

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