The Astros started going retro this offseason by bringing back the "H" over the star for their logo. They continued it Wednesday when Alan Ashby and Geoff Blum were announced as part of the Astros broadcast team in 2013.
The two will be joined by Bill Brown on the television broadcasts, while the radio booth will be filled with a pair of new faces. Robert Ford, who spent the last three seasons as the Kansas City Royals pre and post game radio host, and Steve Sparks, a pitcher who spent nine seasons in the Majors and spent the past two seasons as part of the Astros pre and postgame television broadcasts, will handle the radio broadcasts.
For Ashby and Blum it's a homecoming. Ashby spent 11 of his 17 seasons in the Major Leagues as an Astro. He served as the team's radio color commentator from 1998 to 2006 before going to Toronto for the past six seasons. Blum had two stints as an Astro during his playing career, and was a part of the 2005 Chicago White Sox team that beat the Astros in the World Series.
"It's really nice to be back," Blum said at Minute Maid Park Thursday. "The fans here treated me and my family great. It's actually the perfect storm because I knew my career was ending with the injuries I was having and being old, and being on the free agent market with those two attributes isn't too good. I decided to move the route and the Astros gave me an interview and they were nice enough to give me a chance."
Most eyes will be on Ford, who replaces Milo Hamilton as the team's radio play-by-play voice. Hamilton retired at the end of the 2012 season after a career calling Major League games for more than 50 years, the final 26 seasons in Houston.
"There's not getting around that, there's no downplaying that at all," Ford said about replacing Hamilton. "Obviously, I'm not as accomplished as Milo, I'm not going to sound like Milo, or as good as he did it my first game. I think all you can do is go out, work hard and be yourself. I think that's what people respond to."
Bill Brown becomes the dean of Astros broadcasters, entering his 26th season as the television voice of the club, but will have a reduced schedule of around 100 games this year. In the games Brown doesn't broadcast, Ashby will handle television play-by-play and Blum will be the color commentator.