HOUSTON - It's the end of a broadcasting era for the Houston Astros organizaton.
This season will mark Milo Hamilton's 28th as the radio voice of the Astros and his 59th calling Major League Baseball, the latter of which is second all-time to Vin Scully, who is entering his 64th season. During his long career, Hamilton's ‘Holy Toledo' and ‘Blue Star' calls have become two of his signature phrases.
"I've known for a couple of years that this would be my final season calling games," Hamilton said. "It's been a wonderful career. I never dreamed it would go on this long. There have been so many great moments, most of which have come with the Astros. "
Hamilton told KPRC-TV Tuesday, " I'm happy and feel good about this decision."
The Astros have plans to honor Hamilton throughout the 2012 season. While he will no longer broadcast Astros games after this season, Hamilton will still fill a significant role in the organization moving forward, handling many of the same duties outside of the booth that he has since joining the ballclub in 1985. Some of his duties will include serving as an emcee at special events and fundraisers, taking part in the caravan and Fanfest and appearing at events for sponsors and season ticket holders. He will also be incorporated into the radio broadcasts.
"We have been extremely fortunate to have Milo as a part of our organization," said Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane. "An entire generation of Astros fans have grown up listening to Milo. He truly is an icon and is synonymous with Astros baseball.
"We fully understand and respect his decision and are very pleased that he will continue to be a part of the organization after the season."
The Astros are planning a "Milo Hamilton Day" for September 2, which is his 85th birthday, and will host a special dinner in his honor during the season, with proceeds benefiting the Astros In Action Foundation. Additional events and promotions include an online vote for fans to select his greatest calls, an appreciation Facebook page, scoreboard features throughout the season and the creation of an annual Milo Hamilton college scholarship for broadcasting students. The Astros will provide further details on these and additional promotions in the upcoming weeks.
"We will provide a fitting tribute for one of the all-time great broadcasters in our industry," said Astros President and CEO George Postolos. "The unique bond that Milo has built with our fans is very special. With that in mind, we have created ways for our fans to participate in our tribute to Milo. They will have an opportunity to do that throughout the season."
Hamilton owns one of the most illustrious careers in broadcast history, having spent the last 66 years as a professional broadcaster, 58 years as a Major League Baseball broadcaster and the last 27 years as the ‘Voice of the Astros'. In 2006, he elected to broadcast home games only, but has made select road trips since then. In 2012, he is scheduled to broadcast from his 59th ballpark when the Astros visit the Miami Marlins for a three-game series, April 13-15.
Hamilton is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, having been inducted into the broadcasters wing upon receiving the Ford C. Frick Award in 1992. In total, he is a member of five Halls of Fame, having been enshrined in the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame (1994), the Radio Hall of Fame (2000), the Texas Radio Hall of Fame (2002) and the Iowa Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame (2011).
Hamilton has made countless memorable calls in his 58 seasons, which include stops with the Browns, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Pirates. As an Astros broadcaster, he has called many of the greatest moments in franchise history, including Nolan Ryan's 4,000th strikeout in 1985, the final out of Mike Scott's dramatic, division-clinching no-hitter in 1986, Barry Bonds' record-tying 70th home run in 2001, the Astros historic, six-pitcher, combined no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 2003, Roger Clemens' 4,137th career strikeout in 2004, which placed him second all-time, and Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit in 2007. Hamilton was behind the microphone for the final game in the Astrodome and for the first game at Minute Maid Park (known as Enron Field at the time).
Hamilton has also worked seven of the Astros nine playoff seasons. His famous ‘It's gone! It's gone! It's gone!' call of Chris
Burke's historic walk-off home run in the 18th-inning of Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS is one of the most recognizable in franchise history. Hamilton also called the Astros pennant-clinching Game 6 win of the 2005 NLCS in St. Louis, which sent the Astros to their first World Series.
Hamilton also holds the distinction of calling one of the most memorable moments in baseball history. As an Atlanta Braves broadcaster, he called Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run on April 8, 1974. He has also called 11 no-hitters, the Pirates 1979 World Series championship season, Stan Musial's five home runs in a doubleheader and Ernie Banks five grand slams in one season.
In addition to his Hall of Fame induction, Hamilton has been recognized many times throughout his career. During a special ceremony held outside of Minute Maid Park on April 8, 2009, Houston Mayor Bill White renamed a street "Milo Hamilton Way" in recognition of his 25 seasons with the Astros. Hamilton has also donated his time to various charitable events, helping to raise more than $35 million during his long career.
Hamilton has broadcasted over 4,000 Spring Training, regular season and postseason games. He is scheduled to call the action in Kissimmee, FL, when the Astros open the 2012 Spring Training season on March 3 vs. the Washington Nationals at Osceola County Stadium.
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