A strange thing happened last night at the ball park. Milo Hamilton - who's been our play-by-play announcer on the radio for over twenty years, in a somewhat disgusted tone of voice announced that the Rockies had now evened up the series (we're in the midst of a 4-game set with them at home).
Well, granted that we'd left a ton of men on base and had again squandered a bunch of scoring opportunities (including a bases-loaded groundout in the bottom of the 9th), but the game wasn't over and the Rockies had not won. Milo was mistaken. It was a terrible gaffe.
What followed his announcement were many seconds - perhaps even a minute or more - of "dead air". The next voice to be heard was that of the color guy - and I forget what he said exactly to try and provide as smooth and coherent a segue as possible, considering the circumstances, into the 10th inning.
And the game continued. I wondered if I would hear Milo's voice again. My imagination pictured his having suffered a stroke in the booth and emergency personnel scrambling to attend to him. But, he did come on again and the game was finally won by the Astros in the bottom of the 11th when Miguel Tejada, the hottest hitter in baseball right now, hit a solo home run.
Several years back, when Milo's wife (also a bridge player) was having a lot of health problems and Milo was having some of his own, his mind just wasn't able to totally focus on the games and I thought that he might not be able to continue the play-by-play role that he loved so much.
Drayton McLane, the Astros owner, visited Milo in the hospital and gave him the encouragement he needed to return. Changes made by Drayton during the past few years attest to his continuing support for Milo. No out-of-town games during the regular season unless Milo expresses a strong desire to go, a mid-game 'break' of two or three innings during every home game, and no pre-season action at all until just before the regular season is due to begin. Overall, that strategy has worked out very well, and last night's goof was the first that I am aware of this season.
[It's hard for me to believe that this is Drayton's 17th year with the Astros. It seems like only yesterday that he, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell were pictured laughing together coming off of an elevator.]
I don't know what will happen as a result of last night's lapse and do not wish to speculate. However, one has to keep in mind that Milo is no spring chicken - he'll be 82 in September - and he's been around the world of baseball for a long, long time.
I just looked up some info on him in Wiki and found this photograph,
which was taken 28 years ago. Milo's the one with the microphone, of course. He really doesn't look all that very much different today. A little grayer - he's been one of the lucky males to have kept most of his hair. A few more wrinkles. Almost always with a smile on his face.
Milo's not very tall (not an imposing figure at all!) - 5'6" or so - but has a wonderfully-deep broadcasting voice. His enunciation is clear and his pitch rises and falls as he speaks to provide even more interest. I had the opportunity to meet him several times over the years, and he gave Charlotte Honet (co-owner of the Bridge Studio of Houston) and me complimentary tickets to several of the Astros home games when both she and I were rabid fans in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Wiki has more "information" on Milo and his career in broadcasting, if you'd care to read it. I put the word information in quotes because some of it reads (imo) almost like a gossip column.
There, if you follow the link, you will see the photo I've just shared with you. In addition, you will read about some of the times he's been fired. I hadn't known any of that! Probably most of it is true, but there's some gossipy-type stuff in there as well - not regarding Milo, but others ... you'll see. I don't want to say it's a 'juicy' read, but it's not boring!