HOUSTON -- Shortly before his father's death late last year, Mark Hamilton was able to tell his dad, Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, that the Astros were going to dedicate the Minute Maid Park press box in his honor. Mark is confident his father heard the message and said the Milo Hamilton Press Box unveiled Monday is a fitting tribute.
Mark Hamilton said when his father became the voice of the Braves in the 1960s, he always said he would retire in Atlanta. He wound up joining the Astros in 1985, and within five years told his son he wasn't going anywhere. Houston was his home until he died in September at 88 years old.
"This was his livelihood," Mark Hamilton said. "He loved this team and organization and city and the fans."
Astros president Reid Ryan unveiled a memorial for Hamilton in the press box prior to Monday's home opener against the Royals that included a shadow box of Hamilton pictures, memorabilia and a plaque detailing his career.
"I think it's only fitting that it's Opening Day and we're here to dedicate the Milo Hamilton Press Box," Ryan said. "Milo had 60-plus Opening Days in his career, and 30 them with the Houston Astros, and for the last couple years [announced] the starting lineups and was a big part of the Opening Day, even after he was done broadcasting on a daily basis."
Astros owner Jim Crane wanted to make sure Hamilton was honored properly.
"We'll have Milo looking over us, so hopefully he'll give us a little luck," he said. "The team is ready to go, and we have a big day today. Nothing could be more special than to honor Milo today and acknowledge what he contributed to the franchise for such a long time."
Hamilton, a Ford C. Frick Award winner in 1992, called Major League games for nearly 60 years with stops with the St. Louis Browns (1953), Cardinals (1954), Cubs (1956-57 and 1980-84), White Sox (1962-65), Braves (1966-75), Pirates (1976-79) and Astros.
Hamilton called some of the most memorable moments in baseball, including Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run in 1974. He brought to life some of the Astros' most unforgettable moments as well, including Mike Scott's division-clinching no-hitter in 1986, the Astros' first trip to the World Series in 2005 and Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit in 2007.
"What made him special wasn't that he just had really good pipes, but it was that he had a way of the moment, the big moment, the inflection, to make you feel how special it was without screaming or raising his voice, just doing it in a way that connected with fans," Ryan said. "He had a cadence, a soothing cadence, that people loved to listen to, and he connected with the fans."