Longtime Astros PA announcer Bob Ford's booming voice inspires fans, players

THE VOICE OF HOUSTON

Longtime Astros PA announcer Bob Ford's booming voice inspires fans, players
Bob Ford with a fan before the first World Series game at Minute Maid Park. Courtesy of Bob Ford

Here is an in depth look into the life of Bob Ford and the journey to the Astros’ first championship. He begins with reflecting on his childhood and how it impacted the work he does today.  He then talks about his work and tells us why he values his position at the ball park. We even get to learn about what he does for fun.

Bob Ford loves to fly airplanes. He’s been a pilot for almost 40 years. As a kid, living 2 miles away from an airport, he was always enamored with flying.

But he is probably best known for working around a train. The one at Minute Maid Park, where he is the Public Address announcer for the Houston Astros, a job he has held for more than two decades.

“It’s been a fun 24 years,” said Ford. The voice of the Astros is one of the longest tenured in the MLB. Ford has evolved into a tradition unique to the Astros, because he has crafted up a talent more than just announcing an at bat.

Astros fans walk into the ball park, get their beer and grab some peanuts as they make their way to the seats. It isn’t until we hear the starting line-up from Bob Ford, that you feel the game is under way.  Ford is a monumental piece of the overall game day experience at Minute Maid Park. In the past few decades, the Astros have seen an array of change on and off the field, from the Dome to the “Juice Box,” to the logo, even the colors. This is the story of the voice that you have been hearing over the PA since 1993.

“I’ve never really thought about it like that, with all the transitions in the organization, players, logos, and uniforms, time flies,” said Ford. He feels lucky to call this a job and recognizes he is one of the few, (1 in 30) in the MLB.  To him every fan matters. Whether it was a grueling 100 loss season or a sold out crowd, Ford brings the same intensity to every game over the microphone. As Ford reads off his starting lineup and players at bat, the crowd goes wild in anticipation of his signature announcement. Now batting JOS-SEEEE Allll-tuvvveeeeee.

The players and skipper, A.J. Hinch, have all agreed they feed off of the fan’s energy. The fans get this energy from Ford. It is a domino effect, starting with the PA. As he reads the next player in the lineup, the crowd gets pumped chanting the name. The entire team feels the electricity, not just the batter in the on deck circle. Dallas Keuchel respectfully said “He’s been a staple of the Astros and we are glad to have his voice representing us.”

Two things you know you will hear when you walk into Minute Maid, the voice of Bob Ford and the train run by Bobby Dynamite, aka Astros’ Train guy. “It’s always great to hear Bob’s voice welcoming fans to the ball park,” Dynamite shared. “I feel like when Houston area kids play ball in their backyards, they imagine his voice announcing them when they come up to bat. How cool is that if and when it comes true?”

“I can’t really say it’s sunk in yet,” said Ford about winning the World Series. He reminisced about the past few years and how it reminded him of the ’97, ’98, ’99 seasons. How those seasons were the beginning of the nucleus of a winning team. This was during the “Killer B’s” (Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman) era. At this time Ford was just learning the ropes for the first couple of years and he felt like any other fan, but was just given a microphone. During those 1990’s glory years, “there would be times of a sold out crowd in the dome, and I would think, wow I can’t believe I’m really doing this,” said Ford.  

When asked what goes down in the books as his most memorable moment with the Astros? Ford took a deep breath and said “Game 5…talk about a range of emotions.” This was the last home field advantage our team had. In a 2-2 series, it was a must win game for the Astros. As he recalls the game, he stated “you blinked, and we were down 4-0.” At the top of the 4th, generations of Astros fans began to see their championship dream slip away. Fans who waited a lifetime began to lose hope on what could have been a 2017 World Series Championship.

Down 4-0, Ford explained how he tempered his tone while maintaining his intensity to keep the crowd involved. It took a couple of innings for the Astros to get the engines running. “Anything was possible,” said Ford. For most fans the back and forth through 7 innings was a roller coaster of emotions, nervousness, anger, and excitement. “That has got to be the  ultimate of all the games I’ve ever done, the most exciting,” said Ford on game 5. Over the last few years Ford has enjoyed watching the team develop. Right before his eyes it has all come to fruition. He credits Astros GM Jeff Lunhow. “He has done a tremendous job putting this team together.”

Lunhow brought the team together, Harvey tried to tear things  apart, but the Astros Championship brought the city of Houston as one. Harvey took the city of Houston by surprise.  The games became a distraction from it all. On any given day at the ball park, there were people from all walks of life. Some lost everything and others got out to volunteer in record numbers. Harvey was a big part of the Astros season, but for the MLB post season, that all went away. When you have a disaster like Harvey, Ford recalls “it was so neat to see everyone come together no matter what background you come from.”

As a fan you get to enjoy the moment during a great play, run, or hit. You can’t help but wonder if the Astros staff gets to truly enjoy great moment, or do they have to let it sink in later? Ford answers this question for us by taking us through his experiences. He began his career in the press box abiding by the rules. No cheering, no clapping, not even a high five. When the Astros would get a big hit or home run, Ford was basically limited to a golf clap while the crowd would go wild. He eventually moved out of the press box after the first 11 years. He is now in the control room free to cheer and shout, as there are no rules to his excitement.

Ford was born and raised in Galveston, a city he still calls home to this day. Some would say he started training to be the voice of the Astros back in 1963 where he attended school at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. In the first grade his teacher, which they called “mothers” (nun), would call on him often to read books in front of the class. Ford said, “even in first grade, I could do it with ease.” He started to get ribbons and awards for reading and thought “wow, this is easy.”

It was then he realized he had something special. Ford and his voice landed their first gig at the age of 13 announcing pony league games. He had a special affinity to microphones and worked in radio for over 20 years. Today Ford pulls up to work at Minute Maid, but his career began at the Astrodome, a place he entered for the first time at 8 years old. As a young boy walking into the Dome for the first time, he could never imagine one day he would return to be the Astros PA announcer. Some would say he is living a dream calling the games, a tradition “deep in the heart of Texas.” Now his voice creates lifetime memories for families at the ballpark: 2017 marked Ford’s 24th season with the Astros.

Not only does Ford have 81 Astros games to handle, he is also the voice for the University of Houston Football program. Ford has been with UH Cougars since 2014, the inaugural season at TDECU. He also wears the hat as business owner of a recording company where he does voice overs and special projects. Outside of being on the microphone, besides flying, he also enjoys greasing up to work on cars. Ford and his wife have been married for 34 years and have three sons together, Chris (26), Charlie (24), and Colton (22).

Ford experienced making it to the World Series in 2005. However, it was short lived, as the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox. This time it was an amazing seven-game series, and Ford was a big part of it all.  He plans to be the voice of the Astros for as long as he can and went on to say “well,  as long as I can still do it without becoming an embarrassment.”  Ford’s voice will continue to live on at MMP for the Astros. It will be a few months until we can hear him again, but he may be calling another World Series game soon enough.

Either way, he will be flying high.

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How Texans' CJ Stroud got the last laugh on Panthers entire organization

When Bryce Young and CJ Stroud were drafted with the first two picks of the NFL Draft, we knew they would be compared to one another for years to come.

And here we are just 11 games into the season and one quarterback has already seen his head coach fired. Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to the media on Wednesday and discussed his decision to fire Frank Reich, and also set the record straight on how they arrived at the decision to draft Young.

In so many words, Tepper basically blamed the Texans for how the top of the draft played out. He mentioned Stroud by name and said the Panthers were ready to draft him at No. 2 overall until the Texans backed out of the three-team trade with the Bears.

Tepper made a point of saying everyone in their building had Bryce Young as the top player on their draft board, despite rumors about Frank Reich preferring Stroud.

CJ Stroud and the Texans have been so much better than Bryce Young and the Panthers that Tepper clearly felt it was necessary to defend himself, and the decisions he's made for the organization.

In the end, the person that gets the worst end of the deal is Bryce Young. Coaching changes can be very difficult on young quarterbacks. And it looks like he'll have to learn a new offense in his second year when the Panthers hire a new coaching staff.

How fortunate we are as Texans fans to have DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud leading the team moving forward.

With all of this in mind, is there a reason Texans fans haven't fully bought in to the new-look Texans? JJ Watt was a guest on The Pat McAfee Show this week and was asked about the team's inability to fill the stadium on Sundays.

As a former player for the Colts, McAfee always thought Houston had the loudest and best fans in the NFL. And while the Texans are 9th in attendance this year according to ESPN, even CJ Stroud has asked for the fans to fill the stadium.

So there is something to it. You can see the empty seats in photos. So why aren't the Texans packing NRG with a shiny new franchise QB?

We believe the recent history of the team is why fans are slowly coming back. McAfee wasn't here for:

Bill O'Brien cussing at fans during games

Trading DeAndre Hopkins away for next to nothing

The Jack Easterby disaster

Deshaun Watson allegedly blaming ownership for why he wanted out

The Deshaun Watson scandal

Firing back-to-back coaches after one season, and the list goes on.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!

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