Brown honored for 30th season with Astros

Brown honored for 30th season with Astros

HOUSTON -- The Astros held a special ceremony at Minute Maid Park before Sunday's series finale with the Cincinnati Reds to recognize veteran broadcaster Bill Brown's 30th season as the club's primary play-by-play television announcer.

Brown was recognized on the field during a ceremony that featured a video tribute with several of Brown's most memorable calls, including Craig Biggio's historic 3,000th hit in 2008 and Mike Fiers' no-hitter last season vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. Brown, now 68 years old, was presented with an authentic Astros jersey as a gift, signed by all current Houston players.

Brown was officially hired by the Astros on February 6, 1987, and the first regular-season game he called in his Astros career came on April 6, 1987 -- a 4-3 win over the Dodgers on Opening Day at the Astrodome.

"This has been the biggest joy to me and my family to have this opportunity," Brown said of his 30 seasons with the Astros. "Houston has been great to us. We never could have dreamed when I took this job that we'd be here this long. The fans in Houston have been tremendous and the players have been great."

Astros owner Jim Crane presents broadcaster Bill Brown with a team-signed jersey.AP

Brown grew up in Sedalia, Mo., and began his career covering news and doing play-by-play of high school sporting events while attending the University of Missouri. After graduating in 1969, Brown joined the U.S. Army and became a broadcast specialist, working as a sportscaster for the Armed Forces Vietnam Network in 1970-71.

Brown left the service in 1971. After broadcasting a variety of sports including baseball, NFL football, college basketball and professional hockey for a few years, he landed his first full-time Major League broadcasting job as the television play-by-play announcer for the Reds in 1976. In all, Brown has spent 37 seasons covering Major League Baseball.

"From the day Bill broadcast his first game with the Reds way back in 1976, he was a pro's pro," said Marty Brennaman, a Hall of Fame broadcaster with the Reds. "And absolutely nothing has changed since then. Astros fans have been truly blessed to watch and listen to Bill's talents as their TV voice for the last 30 years. I'm proud to call Bill a colleague and a friend."

Brown and his wife, Dianne, reside in Houston. They have one daughter and three grandchildren.

"Bill is a consummate pro who combines work ethic and enthusiasm with his tremendous voice and experience to place him among the game's great broadcasters," said Alan Ashby, a former catcher for the Astros and currently Brown's broadcast partner with ROOT Sports. "Beyond all of that, the ultimate thing that can be said of him is that he's a really good man."

"Brownie is the consummate professional," added Geoff Blum, a former Astros player and current colleague of Brown and Ashby on the ROOT television broadcasts. "He was kind to me as a player and he's been even more important to me as a fellow broadcaster and friend. His longevity in this business is a credit to his talent and mostly to his character. Congrats, Brownie."

Fans at Minute Maid Park gave a lengthy ovation to Brown, who became a Texas Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 2004 and a Houston Media Wall of Honor inductee in 2011. In 2013, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Brown as its Sportscaster of the Year.

"It has been a privilege and an honor to have known Brownie for close to 30 years," Biggio said. "He has always been professional and classy to the players that play the game. The Astros and the game of baseball are lucky to have such a special talent."

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.