On Saturday night Kevin Eschenfelder and his wife Jeanne welcomed for dinner members of the Astro radio and television announcing teams that wound up their stint with the club in 2012. Missing was radio man Brett Dolan, but on hand was the only surviving member, Bill Brown.
Posing for picture the caption seemed obvious… “Brownie and the Astro Exes.” Sounds like a musical group. (Bart Enis was part of Fox Sport Houston coverage, but he may not be an Ex since he works for Comcast SportsNet Houston and could still wind up working on some Astros TV.)
Kevin Eschenfelder, now gainfully employed at Comcast as the host of what I call, “The Kevin Eschenfelder Show” even if his network does not, served as primary pre and post game host for Astros television on Fox Sports SW and Houston for more than twenty years.
Patti Smith began as the producer for the shows and moved into a part time home game roving reporter and co-host of the weekly “Astros Insider” show. She is the only remaining member of the now dissolved Fox Sports Houston with Fox. As the Houston representative for Fox Sports Southwest she has continued to work with Texans coverage and will be prominent during Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo coverage starting soon on Fox Sports SW. Like Kevin, her Astro coverage days are over.
Jim Deshaies is also in that number, much to the dismay of Astro fans. JD has moved on and will be teamed with Len Kaspar on Chicago Cubs telecasts. He will keep his home in the Woodlands and acquire a summer home in Chicago. The Cubs do not require full time residency for their announcers. Ironically, both their radio and television analysts have their main homes in Texas. Keith Moreland is the radio man and lives in Austin.
I was involved with the Astros from 1995 after six years with the Texas Rangers for HSE through 2012 as an employee of Prime/Fox. I wore all the hats including an estimated 100 games behind the radio microphone filling in for Milo Hamilton between 1995 and 2000. I also worked some games at TV play by play for Brownie and analysis subbing for JD. But my main role was as the field level commentator for all the games, as well as contributing to and occasionally hosting the pre and post game shows. I am no longer affiliated with any operation, but am working on a book using the massive materials I acquired and compiled during those many years on the air. The book will call on the many “Tales of the Games” features as well as ideas generated by fans when I would communicate during games from the Astros sidelines. Whether I return to the air full or part time is being put on hold while I finish the book.
Dave Raymond served as one of the Astro radio play by play voices from 2006 through 2012 along with Brett Dolan for those same years. Dave and Brett are both getting a little free lance work primarily with Comcast or Fox Sports Southwest and hoping to have a chance to return to baseball somewhere in the future.
Then there is the leader of our group, Bill Brown. He will return as lead television play by play man for the Astros. He has already passed Gene Elston in longevity with the announcing team and will tie Milo Hamilton for most years in an Astro booth in 2013.
As life for all the “exes” will be different so will it be for Brownie. A familiar face and long time friend will be his regular partner as Alan Ashby returns as the lead TV analyst. Ash will also get to practice his long time goal of doing regular play by play as Bill cuts back on his schedule to 100 of the 162 regular season games.
Front: Kevin Eschenfelder, Patti Smith, Bill Brown Back: Dave Raymond, Greg Lucas, Jim Deshaies