In Bob Ford’s first game as the Astros public address announcer in 1994 at the Astrodome, he had to announce Montreal infielder Mark Grudzielanek. Welcome to the major leagues Bob.
After pronouncing /grud-zuh-LAH-nick/ correctly, Ford was on his way. He’s been the P.A. announcer ever since, spanning the Astrodome to Minute Maid Park.
“Mark Grudzielanek was a last-minute substitution in his rookie season and I had never seen the name before,” said Ford, a well-known radio personality in Houston. “So that’s one of my most memorable names I’ve ever called.”
Prior to Friday’s game with the Yankees the Astros honored Ford for his 20 years of service as the ballpark voice of the Astros. He was presented with a crystal microphone.
When he first started 20 seasons ago, Ford was calling out names like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, followed by Brad Ausmus and Darryl Kile.
“That was the early years and then Bagwell and Biggio carried us through the World Series season in ’05 which was fun,” said Ford. “The playoff years (1997, ’98, ’99), those were fun as well.
“I remember when we clinched and we knew we were going to the playoffs, I think it was a wild card back in the Dome with all the confetti and everything falling. That was special. ”
Ford said there’s a difference between calling games at the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000.
“The Astrodome was obviously a lot bigger,” said Ford. “It was cavernous. Here (Minute Maid Park) everything is so finely tuned. The sound is so much better over here.
“I grew up an Astros fan. I went to the Astrodome for the first time it opened (1965) when I was 8-years-old. So that always held a very special place in my heart. The Dome always will. It’s special here too.”
Ford was touched by the tribute from the Astros and enjoys coming to the games.
“It’s special,” said Ford. “The time has flown by. When you get to go to a baseball game it’s not like really going to work. It’s fabulous people. Working up here I’ve made some great friendships. It’s always been a pleasure coming to work.”