Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster provides solution for recent MLB controversy

Bill Brown will be inducted into the Houston Astros Hall of Fame on Saturday. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Bill Brown is the longest-running Astros play-by-play man. He worked the TV booth from 1987 to 2016. That’s longer than Milo Hamilton (1985-2012), Gene Elston (1962-86), current announcer Todd Kalas (2017-23), Todd’s father Harry Kalas (1965-70), and all the rest. For most of Brown’s tenure in the TV booth, his sidekick analyst was Jim Deshaies (1997-2012) and Alan Ashby (2013-16). More on Ashby later.

On Saturday, Brown will be inducted into the Houston Astros Hall of Fame before the Astros host the Los Angeles Angels at 6:10 p.m. Brown will be only the third announcer welcomed into the Hall of Fame, following Hamilton and Elston.

I caught up with Brown for some hardball Q&A with a few hanging curves mixed in.

SportsMap: What do they give you as a new inductee in the Houston Astros Hall of Fame? A ring? An autographed Jim Deshaies baseball? A tiara and sash?

Brown: You get a tailored orange blazer and a copy of the plaque in the Hall of Fame Alley display case. The tailor told me they searched all over the U.S. for the exact color of orange to match the blazers from previous years. Finally, a tailor friend of his put him in touch with a company in Italy to get the color they needed in polyester. Polyester is the only fabric that works with that color, he says!

SportsMap: The Baltimore Orioles reportedly suspended an announcer for saying the Orioles were having success against Tampa Bay this year while they had struggled in recent years. How much of a b.s. move was that by the Orioles?

Brown: From what has been reported, the broadcaster was reviewing some statistics on a pregame show about how terribly the Orioles had played in Tampa Bay over the years. But recently they had won their first series there in many years and they had halted the trend. For some unknown reason, he was suspended by the team. Fans do not want broadcasters muzzled when they are speaking the truth. The only sensible thing the Orioles can do from here is to apologize publicly to the broadcaster. It would be most appropriate if the person who decided to suspend him would identify himself, although it was such a stupid move there probably isn't anybody who would admit to it.

SportsMap: Now that you're no longer chasing the Astros around Major League Baseball, what cities do you miss visiting?

Brown: We just visited Montreal for the first time since the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. San Diego was always nice because of the perfect temperature. Minnesota is great in the summertime and our daughter's family always came to the games from their home two hours away.

SportsMap: When you retired after the 2016 season, you and your wife Dianne could have moved anywhere. Why did you decide to stay in Houston?

Brown: We will never move from Houston because of the people here. It is the best place we have found for friends, hospitality and compassion.

SportsMap: Before joining the Astros broadcast team, you called games for the Cincinnati Reds. Now that the statute of limitations has expired, exactly how disgusting is that hideous Skyline Chili they sell at Reds games?

Brown: Skyline Chili is an acquired taste. After about four years of acquiring that taste, I had to have it every day. It must be eaten with a bib!

SportsMap: You once said that you retired in 2016 because you thought your performance was slipping. What made you think that?

Brown: I couldn't remember where I parked the car, which wasn't as bad as not remembering the Colorado Rockies' second baseman. I was having nightmares about being unable to explain the infield fly rule.

SportsMap: How did you feel when your TV partner Alan Ashby started calling you "Brownie" and it stuck?

Brown: It's nice to have a nickname because it's a feeling of acceptance. One guy in Cincinnati called me "Billy Brown Shoes" and I didn't like that. It reminded me that Johnny Bench always gave me grief for wearing brown shoes with navy slacks. Sometimes you're just four decades ahead of your time.

SportsMap: How come you don't do commercials? Art Rascon can't do them all.

Brown: Art is believable. I'm a sports guy. Actually, I have done two or three commercials, but they haven't aired on the stations you watch.

SportsMap: During your career, you've called play-by-play for baseball, basketball, hockey (which ones am I missing?). Which was your favorite sport to call and why? Which sport was most difficult for you?

Brown: I also did football, tennis, indoor soccer and bowling. Baseball has always been the favorite by far because there is time to tell stories and make sure you have the score right. Hockey was the toughest because it moves so quickly and there are two intermissions for resurfacing the ice, which is quite boring.

SportsMap: What was your single favorite moment in the broadcast booth?

Brown: We did not have the pleasure of televising postseason games, so the final games of the 1999, 2004 and 2005 regular seasons were the most important. The Astros won all three to reach the playoffs. Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit was probably the favorite because it was 20 years in the making and I was along for the entire journey!

SportsMap: You know it's coming, what was your most horrible, embarrassing moment?

Brown: One time I described a double play with many throws during a rundown and tossed it to commercial, giving the score at the end of the inning. Then a voice told me the inning wasn't over - there were only two outs!

SportsMap: How many franks could you eat on Dollar Dog Night if you really put your mind and stomach to it?

Brown: If given time to warm up properly and read the manual written by Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut, I think I could do three. In five hours.

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The Houston Texans have a huge game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, and they must come away with a victory if they want to avoid falling to 0-3 on the season.

And don't look now, but beating the Jags just got a little more difficult with Aaron Wilson reporting that Derek Stingley Jr is expected to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. Plus, nickel corner Tavierre Thomas will also be out after having surgery on his hand.

The Texans are dealing with a massive amount of injuries just two weeks into the season. But one could argue some of these could have been avoided.

Both Stingley and guard Kenyon Green (IR) had injury concerns coming out of college and GM Nick Caseiro decided to draft them in the top half of the first round, despite those red flags.

Green will miss the rest of the season needing shoulder surgery, and if Stingley is placed on IR and misses 4 games, he will have only played in 11 of a possible 23 games to start his career. Don't forget, Stingley missed time due to a hamstring issue in 2022 as well.

And let's not forget, Caserio passed on All-Pro corner Sauce Gardner, when he decided to draft Stingley No. 3 overall in 2022. The Jets selected Gardner with the very next pick.

Be sure to watch the video above as we discuss the implications of these injuries for the Texans and Caserio's future in Houston.

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