Milo Hamilton

Milo Hamilton
Milo Hamilton

Milo Hamilton and Mike Krukow at Wrigley Field, June 10, 1981
Born Leland Milo Hamilton
September 2, 1927 (1927-09-02) (age 84)
Fairfield, Iowa, United States
Occupation Sportscaster
Spouse Arlene Hamilton (1951-2005, her death)
Children Mark and Patricia

Leland Milo Hamilton (born September 2, 1927 in Fairfield, Iowa) is an American sportscaster, best known for calling play-by-play for seven different Major League Baseball teams since 1953.[1] He received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.[2]

He is known by his middle name, which is pronounced "MY-loh".


Early career

Hamilton was born in Fairfield, Iowa; a small town in the southeastern part of the state. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. During his time in the Navy, he broadcast on Armed Forces Radio. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1949. After beginning his sportscasting career by calling college football and basketball for the Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as minor league baseball in the Quad Cities region and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks of the NBA (now the Atlanta Hawks), he got his first MLB announcing job in 1953, with the St. Louis Browns of the American League.[3]

When the Browns moved to Baltimore as the Orioles, Hamilton didn't go along. Instead, he moved to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he worked alongside Harry Caray and Jack Buck during the 1954 season. However, he was fired after only one year when the Cardinals wanted a spot in the booth for Joe Garagiola.[3] He then moved to the Chicago Cubs, working alongside Jack Brickhouse and Vince Lloyd. After three years, he was fired when Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley wanted to make room for Lou Boudreau.[3]

After a four-year hiatus, Hamilton moved to the Chicago White Sox in 1961,[3] serving as the assistant to longtime White Sox announcer Bob Elson.

Atlanta Braves

When the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta for the 1966 season, Hamilton got the call to become the main play-by-play man for the Atlanta Braves. Hamilton's voice was already well-known in Atlanta; WGST had carried White Sox games for most of the early 1960s.

Hamilton soon became so popular that executives with Braves flagship WSB-TV credited the Braves' high ratings on television (in 1972, they garnered a prime-time 27 rating) in part to Hamilton.[3]

While in Atlanta, Hamilton called Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career home run in the 1974 home-opener:

Henry Aaron, in the second inning walked and scored... He's sittin' on 714... Here's the pitch by Downing... swinging... there's a drive into left-center field... that ball is gonna beeee... OUTTA HERE! IT'S GONE! IT'S 715! There's a new home run champion of all time... and it's HENRY AARON!" [4]

The Braves, however, weren't drawing very well due to some poor-to-mediocre seasons in the mid-1970s. Hamilton went as far as to criticize the poor attendance on-air. He refused to gloss over the poor attendance and was fired after the 1975 season.[3]

Pittsburgh Pirates

Hamilton briefly considered a return to St. Louis after Jack Buck left the Cardinals for NBC, but pulled out of talks after learning Buck could return to the team to reclaim his job if the NBC project (GrandStand) failed. Instead, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1976 season, succeeding Bob Prince. Any announcer would have had difficulty following the well-entrenched Prince, who had been part of the Pirates' broadcast team since 1948 and had been their top announcer since 1954. He was the subject of biting criticism by sportswriters and fans. Most of them were used to Prince's folksy style and thought Hamilton was too restrained (one writer derided Hamilton's style as "broadcast-school professionalism").[3] Hamilton was hyper-sensitive to criticism, which made a difficult situation even worse.

Chicago Cubs

Unhappy in Pittsburgh, Hamilton jumped at a chance to return to Chicago in 1980 to join the Cubs' broadcast team alongside Brickhouse, Lloyd and Boudreau. He was under the impression that he was heir-apparent to Brickhouse upon the latter's retirement; indeed, he later said that he had been "guaranteed in blood" that he would replace Brickhouse on Cubs television broadcasts in 1982.[3] Brickhouse himself called Hamilton "the voice of the Cubs for years to come" just before he retired in 1981. That plan changed when Harry Caray, discontented with new White Sox ownership, was brought in shortly after the Tribune Company bought the Cubs.

Hamilton and Caray never got along, in part because Hamilton blamed Caray for his replacement with Garagiola 27 years earlier in St. Louis.[3] Hamilton claims that during the 1984 season, their relationship got even chillier when Caray admitted to him that he'd in fact had an affair with the daughter-in-law of longtime Cardinals owner Gussie Busch--which has long been rumored to be the reason for the Cardinals firing him in 1969.[3] Hamilton also claimed that Caray said on the air that he'd mailed alimony checks to all of his ex-wives.[3] However, on the record Caray always denied that there was ever an affair.

The Cubs fired Hamilton after the 1984 season. Hamilton has blamed Caray for the firing.[5] He told author Curt Smith that officials at WGN-TV spent an hour praising him, but told him that they had to fire him because Caray didn't like him, and Caray was more important to the Cubs.[3]

Hamilton made comments critical of Caray which were published in a story after the latter's 1998 death, but Hamilton claimed in his book Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo's Microphone that his comments quoted in that story were actually part of a magazine article from 13 years before and that he did not in fact make the comments after Caray's death. The story prompted an angry reaction from Caray's son, Skip Caray (who had succeeded Hamilton in the Atlanta Braves' booth). In 2006, Hamilton recounted his experiences with Caray in his book. He devoted a chapter to Caray, whom he refers to as the Canary, calling him "a miserable human being."

Houston Astros

After leaving Chicago, Hamilton joined up with the Houston Astros. He spent two years as the number-two announcer behind longtime Astros voice Gene Elston (another native Iowan). Coincidently, Hamilton helped push out Elston after the 1986 season much like Caray had done to him in Chicago. He has been their main announcer since 1987. On July 29, 2005, Hamilton announced that starting with the 2006 season, he would no longer accompany the club on the road, announcing only home games.[6][7] Although, he has traveled with the club when Busch Stadium, Nationals Park, and Citi Field opened respectively.

Other sports

In addition to his early work with the Iowa Hawkeyes and Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Hamilton has also, at various points in his career, called NBA basketball for the Chicago Zephyrs, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets; college basketball for Northwestern, Kentucky, and DePaul, as well as various Southwest Conference games for the Home Sports Entertainment channel in the '80s; and college football for Northwestern, Ohio State and Georgia Tech.

Commentating style

Hamilton's style could be described as enthusiastic but not "over the top."[citation needed] He told Smith that Elston encouraged him to save his voice for thrilling moments, such as Aaron's 715th home run.[3]

He is also known for his catch phrase "Holy Toledo, what a play!"


Hamilton was the 1992 recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award.[1] He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2000[8] and soon he will be inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

As of 2011, Hamilton has broadcast major league games in 59 different ballparks.[9]

On April 8, 2009, during the opening series against the Chicago Cubs, Houston Mayor Bill White dedicated Hamilton Street in downtown Houston to Milo Hamilton, changing the street's name to, Milo Hamilton Way in honor of the Hall of Fame Voice of the Astros.


His wife of nearly 53 years, Arlene, died at age 73 in February 2005. The couple had two children: Mark and Patricia. Hamilton's daughter, Patricia Joy Hamilton Watson, a former Delta Air Lines flight attendant, died on July 10, 2006 in Atlanta, three weeks after suffering a stroke.

On October 7, 2007, Hamilton suffered a heart attack while eating lunch with his son in Houston. He was taken to The Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, where doctors discovered that one of his coronary arteries was 99% blocked. Hamilton underwent a successful angioplasty, and local media reported that he was resting comfortably.[10]


  1. ^ a b "1992 Ford C. Frick Award Winner Milo Hamilton". Baseball Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  2. ^ Gary McKillips. "Milo Hamilton: To Cooperstown and Back". American Sportscasters Online. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Smith, Curt (2005). Voices of Summer. New York City: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0786714468. 
  4. ^ [1] Baseball's Best: Hank Aaron Hits 715
  5. ^ [2] American - Milo Hamilton
  6. ^ Milo Hamilton at the National Radio Hall of Fame
  7. ^ [3] Astros broadcaster Hamilton is man for all seasons
  8. ^ "Sportscasters: Milo Hamilton". Radio Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  9. ^ "Milestone for Milo: Hamilton visits 59th stadium". Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  10. ^ Astros announcer Hamilton recovering after heart attack

External links

Preceded by
Joe Garagiola
Ford C. Frick Award
Succeeded by
Chuck Thompson

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