Astros play-by-play man Brown announces retirement

September 22nd, 2016

HOUSTON -- It's the end of an era. Longtime Astros play-by-play announcer Bill Brown will retire at the end of the season, he announced Thursday afternoon, ending a legendary career with Houston that spanned 30 years and earned Brown, 69, a spot on the Astros' Media Wall of Honor.

Brown's final scheduled broadcast will be during the Astros' final regular-season home game on Wednesday, when Houston plays Seattle.

"It is definitely time to do this," Brown said. "I think the fans deserve somebody who is very passionate and really can commit to hopefully more than 100 games. … I thank all of you for your loyalties and friendships and the great conversations we've had. Thanks especially to my wife, Diane, who has been extremely patient."

"Brownie" has been around baseball since 1976, when he joined the Cincinnati Reds' television crew, staying until 1982. He then came to Houston in '87, making him the Astros' longest-tenured current television broadcaster. His professional approach to the broadcast combined with his knowledge, preparation and easygoing style made him a fan favorite for decades.

"Bill Brown's unwavering commitment and passion for the Houston Astros has inspired fans for many years," owner Jim Crane said in a press release. "On behalf of everyone in the Astros organization, I want to personally thank Bill for his great work, his genuine love for this team, and his commitment to exceptional work. Bill Brown has had a Hall of Fame-caliber broadcasting career -- and we are fortunate it has been with the Houston Astros."

Since calling his first Astros game on April 6, 1987 -- a 4-3 Opening Day win over the Dodgers at the Astrodome -- Brown was the voice for a number of memorable moments, including Jeff Bagwell's 400th career home run in 2003, Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit in '07 and ' no-hitter last season.

"To me, it's similar to being on a bullet train going through a long, dark tunnel very quickly with all these images passing by," Brown said. "Whether it's Darryl Kile after his no-hitter or Baggie getting MVP or any number of things like that … it could be any one of those things, and they're just flashing by. It's too fast to enjoy. Such a blur, 30 years."

Alongside Bagwell and Biggio, Brown was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame on Nov. 12, 2004. He was named Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters/Sportswriters Association in 2013, and he was elected to the Astros' Media Wall of Honor in '11.

The Astros recognized Brown's 30 years with the organization in a special pregame ceremony on June 19. At his retirement press conference Thursday, the club also presented him with a free vacation trip.

"I'm so proud to have crossed paths with him in my career," manager A.J. Hinch said. "… When I was interviewing for this job, it was his voice that was talking about the Astros as I started to learn about this organization. … Brownie's one of the best."