There are few things more relaxing than listening to spring training baseball on the radio. The booths in those small stadiums are close to the seats, so, during pauses in the action, it is easy to pick out beer vendors and random fans in the crowd. Good announcers know how to stretch the time to leave just enough of the ambience of the ballpark lingering in the air in between calls of balls and strikes.
Since 1985, Milo Hamilton, who died on Thursday, was that announcer for the Houston Astros. He, original Astro broadcaster Gene Elston (who, sadly, passed away on September 8) and Rockets radio legend Gene Peterson form what could only be described as the holy trinity of Houston play-by-play announcers.
Hamilton's distinctive voice and "Holy Toledo!" catchphrase were beloved by many fans and secured his place among the greats of his industry. He was certainly loved by many Astros fans and became the voice for the Bagwell-Biggio generation. But, before Hamilton left his mark on the Houston franchise, he had already spent time with six other teams in a career that spanned six decades.
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In fact, his most famous call wasn't with the Astros but as a member of the Atlanta Braves broadcast team. It was with the Braves in 1974 when he was on the mike for Henry Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run against the Dodgers.
Hamilton even called games for the NBA, NCAA basketball and NCAA football throughout his career, but it was his time spent in the major leagues that is best remembered by fans and his contemporaries. He retired from announcing in 2012, but was a frequent guest at Minute Maid Park and remained a member of the Astros' extended family.
Hamilton was 88.