Baseball stars honor Astros announcer Hamilton

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 16, 2012

MOBILE, AL - APRIL 14: MLB Hall of Famer Hank Aaron waves to fans during pre-game ceremonies following the opening the Hank Aaron Museum at the Hank Aaron Stadium on April 14, 2010 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
Milo Hamilton and Hank Aaron will be linked forever thanks to the Hall of Fame announcer's call on the slugger's record-breaking 715th home run. Hammerin' Hank joined Hamilton on Tuesday to celebrate his retirement after 59 major league seasons. Aaron told Hamilton: ''Your voice goes with me all over the world. Everywhere I go when people start talking about that home run, your voice comes back, and I want to say how much I appreciate that.'' Hamilton called Aaron's 715th home run on April 8, 1974, as a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves. He said that was the highlight of his career. ''We're kind of joined at the hip with home run No. 715,'' Hamilton said of he and Aaron. ''To have him here and make that effort to come here ... that means a lot to me.'' Aaron called Hamilton a great friend and said that he helped him during his career. He reflected on the record-setting call. ''The more I hear his voice, the more I like it. I wish it had been 780,'' Aaron said with a laugh. The 85-year-old Hamilton is retiring after 28 years with the Houston Astros. Aaron joined other baseball luminaries such as former Astros stars Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan at a gala Tuesday to honor Hamilton. ''He's been the voice of the Astros for so long and what happens is he becomes the voice and the face that so many people recognize,'' said Ryan, who played for the Astros from 1980-88. ''What he does is he passes the game on from one generation to the next. That's the legacy and the impact that (he) has.'' He was inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Radio Hall of Fame in 2000. Hamilton couldn't pick only one favorite memory of his time with the Astros, instead choosing a pair. ''You'd have to make it 1 and 1A with Mike Scott's no-hitter in `86 then won the West, and Biggio's 3,000th hit,'' he said. Biggio was moved that someone who had called so many games, chose his milestone as one of his top calls. ''The man has seen a lot over the course of his 60 years or so, so for him to say that, that makes me feel pretty good,'' Biggio said of the call in 2007. ''We're really going to miss him. Astros fans are really going to miss him.'' He will remain with the team working mostly on special events, but will make sporadic appearances on radio broadcasts. Hamilton was overwhelmed by the outpouring of well-wishes on Tuesday night. ''It's kind of humbling when you think about it,'' he said. ''I thought I would just sink into the sunset.'' Hamilton's time calling games in the majors is second all time only to Vin Scully, who just finished his 64th season. A video tribute from Scully and several other announcers from around the league was played at the event. There was also a video message from former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. ''Milo was a tremendous broadcaster,'' Aaron said. ''He was great, and his voice reminds you so much of Vin Scully. It was the kind of voice that went through you. He was very, very good.'' He called 11 no-hitters and Ryan's 4,000th strikeout in 1985. He also called the Pirates' 1979 championship season and also when Stan Musial hit five home runs in a doubleheader. Hamilton has called more than 4,000 spring training, regular-season and playoff games. He stopped traveling with the team in 2006 but occasionally made road trips. He has broadcast from 59 ballparks, and hopes to return to the booth next season when the Astros move to the American League and visit Detroit, so he can add that park to his list.
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