When Milo Hamilton met Ronald Reagan…

When Milo Hamilton learned that President Reagan would be at Dodger Stadium that day, he began looking for someone to introduce him to his boyhood hero. He found that someone in Dodgers GM Fred Claire and was escorted downstairs, past security and in front of the President of the United States.

“Look for the blue pack with the red-coated rider,” Hamilton said loudly as he shook Reagan’s hand. Reagan smiled, clearly pleased.

“How do you remember that?” he said. Milo explained that he’d grown up in Iowa listening to Reagan’s radio show on WHO and that he’d forever memorized the closing line of the show, an advertisement for Kentucky Club Pipe Tobacco.

Milo, who will announce his retirement on Wednesday, has lived a long and wonderful life. He’s 85 years old and has done major league baseball for 58 years, including the last 27 for the Astros. He got his start in broadcasting on Okinawa while in the Army. Upon returning to the states and graduating from the University of Iowa, he did a bit of everything, spinning records, doing the news, conducting interviews.

He was having lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Philadelphia a few years ago when, suddenly, he was struck by a sight that took his breath away.

“There was the ship I served on in World War II,” he said.

His first baseball play-by-play was a minor league team 66 years ago. He had found his calling. In the years since, he has become the background music of our summers, his booming voice as rich as ever. He’ll be forever known as the guy who called Hank Aaron’s 715th, but that’s just one small moment compared to the thousands who feel as if they know him intimately.

There’s nothing like baseball on the radio, nothing like the gifted men who pain the pictures, from Vin Scully and Russ Hodges to Mel Allen and and Red Barber. I grew up in Waxahachie, Texas, falling asleep to the sound of Gene Elston doing Astros’ games. Later, I became close friends with Jon Miller. Baseball’s best broadcasters are perfectionists, and many of them don’t suffer fools.

In recent years, as the Astros tumbled out of contention, Milo’s unhappiness came through in his voice and words. He had cut back on his travel in recent years, a concession to an assortment of health problems. He’ll discuss his plans during a news conference on Wednesday.

3 Comments

Justice, sometimes you amaze me-
Just went I thought you were a tired old hack you go yard with a great article….
I hate your liberal politics but enjoy your nostalgia when it comes to covering baseball….

keep it up old man-

I just read your article on Selig, who I have much respect for. He has done so much to bring our game into the new millennium. He obviously cares for the game, and I trust him as it’s captain. HOWEVER! I pray daily that he forgets this idea of bringing the DH to the NL. I love the NL for the fact that the pitcher has to get up there and face the music. One of the things I love most about baseball is that every player (in the NL) must step in to that box on their own, and face the opposing team. It is one of the many things that makes baseball unique. And it would be a shame to lose the surprise and excitement of watching Zack Greinke or Yovanni Gallardo drill one into the stands. I love the home team rules in inter-league play, I love the strategy that happens. I accept that the DH is here to stay in the AL. Making the two homogenous would be a mistake in my eyes. It would be a shame to lose such a strategic aspect of the game to the cry for more offense. Your opinion would be appreciated!

Hi, I’m David. I love your blog. It’s very interesting and well written. I was wondering if you could check mine out. I’m a kid who just started to blog. Please comment advice. http://wp.me/29yiz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers

%d bloggers like this: