Thursday, April 9, 2009

Milo Hamilton, Who Knew?

I hadn't thought about Milo Hamilton in years, until yesterday's post about Hank Aaron's 715th home run led me to discover he was behind the most famous call of that home run. Why would I have thought about Milo Hamilton at all, you might ask? Well, as an impressionable youth of just 10 years of age, the Cubs had their magical season of 1984. That season cemented baseball as a near religion to me and forever branded me a Cubs fan. Sure, I have vague memories of season's previous to 1984, but if I thought really hard I could probably reconstruct the batting order from that season even now.

Milo Hamilton did the radio broadcasts of the Cubs that year. Actually, Harry Caray (who did the TV broadcasts) and Hamilton would swap places for the middle three innings with Hamilton doing the TV and Harry the radio. (As I would discover, it's a wonder neither tried to push the other off the catwalk between the booths to their deaths as they passed.)

He was gone after that year and I never really knew what happened to him. Until today, when I saw an article about a street being named after him in Houston, where he's been announcing games ever since. That's 25 years.

I stumbled across his wikipedia page today. It's like reading a soap opera. I had no idea. Not only has he been around forever (he started broadcasting in 1953 with the St. Louis Browns), but he had a long running feud with Harry Caray. After sharing a booth with Harry and Jack Buck for the Cardinals in 1954, Harry supposedly forced him out to make room for Joe Garagiola. Then 30 years later Harry forced him out of his job with the Cubs. This after Harry stole the Cubs TV job from Hamilton who had supposedly been promised in blood that he would replace Jack Brickhouse. And then there's something about an affair Harry was having with the daughter-in-law of the Cardinal's owner back in the 60's, and Harry's son Skip Caray replacing Hamilton as the Braves announcer in 1976. It's all so sordid.

Not to be outdone, 2 years after moving to Houston, Hamilton forced out longtime Astros announcer Gene Elston and took over the main broadcasting role.

It should all be a cable TV drama called "Broadcasters" or something, a la Madmen.

Jack Buck, Harry Caray, & Joe Garagiola in St. Louis
(not pictured: Milo Hamilton flipping them of)

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.