Astros' Ford breaking barriers in radio booth

Broadcaster is 2nd African-American to call WS-clinching game

February 1st, 2018

NEW YORK -- Broadcaster Robert Ford is in his sixth season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Astros. He was proud to be in the booth during the 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers.

There he was in the visiting booth at Dodger Stadium, excited about Dodgers shortstop grounding out to Astros second baseman for the final out of the Series.

As Black History Month commences, it's worth noting that Ford became only the second African-American broadcaster to call play-by-play during a World Series-clinching game (Bill White was the first in 1978).

While Ford was pleased to be calling the game, he would like to see more diversity in the broadcast booth.

"It's obviously something I'm proud of, but I kind of wish I wasn't the second," Ford said. "I wish we got to a point where it wasn't a big deal. I hope we get at some point where there are a lot more African-American broadcasters, a lot more Latino broadcasters and a lot more female broadcasters. But, clearly, we are not there yet.

"Me being a presence in some small way helps to affect change in that regard. It lets more people know there is a place in this game. There is a place in the broadcast booth for people who look like me or people of color."

The World Series highlight for Ford came in Game 5. It was a see-saw game. The Astros were down, 4-0, to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning. You might be thinking the game was over for Houston. But the Astros managed to tie the game and win it, 13-12, in 10 innings.

"It was like a boxing match -- back and forth," Ford said. "For me, my favorite call that I ever had was the walk-off RBI single by in the 10th inning of Game 5. That moment was probably the loudest I've heard at Minute Maid Park."

After the World Series, Ford was proud to take his daughter, Elena, to the parade honoring the Astros in downtown Houston. It was the first parade for a Houston sports team since 1995, when the Rockets won their second of back-to-back NBA titles. Ford is not sure if Elena fully appreciates what happened last November.

"Maybe when she gets older, she'll have a greater appreciation for it," Ford said. "That meant the world to me, to be able to share that experience and that celebration with my daughter. For her to be in the middle of it with me was definitely the most special thing."

Ford expects the Astros to be special this upcoming season. He feels they have the roster to repeat as World Series champions. The team is bringing back almost everyone who was a key part of the World Series team, particularly on offense. Ford also believes the rotation will be better because the Astros will have for a full season. It also helps they acquired in a trade from the Pirates.

"It's hard to repeat. No one has done it a nearly 20 years, but if any team can repeat, [the Astros] certainly can," Ford said.