added 7/12/2007 by James Anderson
What makes a simple and commonly used phrase become important, especially one that is so common that it is uttered daily in the American English vernacular?
For instance, take the three words "there it is" for example. Nothing special about that. Most if not all of us use it everyday. My wife utilizes the phrase quite often when I misplace my keys, cell phone or can't locate my favorite bag of cookies. She'll lovingly say "There it is dummy, right there under your nose!" I've been having a few of those "senior moments" lately. I'm sure all of you over the age of 50 know what I'm talking about. But, I'm straying a bit from the reason I'm writing this piece in the first place. (another senior moment?).
Let's look at that simple phrase "There it is". Take for instance the word "There". It is an adverb. Abverbs are used used to modify other verbs or adjectives. The word "It" is an indefinte pronoun, meaning that in and of itself could imply any number of subject matter - like my car keys for instance. Then there is the word "is" a verb, which in this case is a verb used in the present tense indicative mood - thus "There it is dummy!" - Yes dear! 'nuff said!
But, let's just suppose for a while that out all of the creative verbiage used in the western english language this simple phrase has come to have special meaning to the history of Major League Baseball or more pointedly to the history of the Houston Astros Major League Baseball Club.
For that reason, three Houston Astros broadcast icons who likely were behind the microphone for virtually every historic event in the history of the team ( including the ignoble historic events in the history of the team), Gene Elston, Milo Hamilton and Bill Brown are forever joined in Astros baseball lore because of a simple pronouncement of the three common english words THERE IT IS!. (Taking nothing away from Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond who historically are still the new kids on the block).
The phrase THERE IT IS first made it's presence known on an important Astros baseball historical moment on September 26, 1986. Astros pitcher Mike Scott clinched the Western Division title by pitching a 2-0 complete game no hitter and his 18th win against the San Francisco Giants in the Astrodome with a packed house of an official count of 32,808 excited and rabid Astros fans in attendance. Astros broadcaster Gene Elston was behind the mic in the TV booth calling the game. With two outs in the top of the 9th and 32,000+ fans on their feet screaming and cheering at such a fever pitch on every pitch that it was difficult to even hear the play-by-play, Scott served up the historic pitch to his catcher Alan Ashby. Giants batter Will Clark swings and bounces the ball to Astros first baseman Glenn Davis who runs over and touches the bag to clinch the victory for Scott and the Astros and the Astrodome explodes in celebration as Gene Elston punctuates the action and the victory with "There it is! and then lets the tremendous crowd noise of the celebration on the field and in the stands do the talking for the tv viewers.
Needless to say, Gene's career took a dramatic turn after that three worded call in one of the most dramatic finishes in team history. The man responsible for Gene's career change also had a dramatic career change of his own right after he ran Nolan Ryan out of town but that's another story for another time. Eventually Cooperstown would come calling for Mr. Elston joining one of the other two Astros broadcasters whom this article is about, Milo Hamilton.
But, let's get back to our timeline concerning this three-worded phrase. With that in mind we turn to the Astros long time current lead tv play-by-play broadcaster Bill Brown.
Brownie, as he is affectionately called by his friends and fans, makes his entrance into this trifecta on June 11, 2003.
The Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig decided that inter-league play during the regular season would be a great idea. His idea eventually became a reality which is how we come to see the Houston Astros playing a three game series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in June of 2003. At the time, both the Yankees and Red Sox were tearing up the league - and as usual - tearing up each other both on the field and in the newspapers. It is in that environment that the National League team from deep in the heart of Texas travels deep into the heart of Gotham to play the vaunted Bronx Bombers.
The Astros were sending their ace Roy Oswalt to the mound against the Yankees. Oswalt made it as far as the middle of the second inning before re-aggravating a recent groin injury which forced Astros skipper Jimy Williams to draw on his bullpen early. Out marches relief pitcher Pete Munro and when the last out was recorded by the Astros staff, Williams had sent four more Astros relief pitchers to the mound to seal the 8-0 victory for the Astros. Six pitchers combining to pitch a complete game shut-out is unusual. Six pitchers combining to pitch a complete game no-hitter against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium is absolutely extraordinary.
It was the first time any opposing team had tossed a no-hitter against the Yankees at their home ballpark since 1952. Astros broadcaster Bill Brown was on-hand in the Astros tv broadcast booth calling the 9th inning of that game.
Either that evening or early the next day, Brownie was asked what was going through his mind in that memorable 9th inning. Billy Wagner had coaxed a weak grounder from Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui to first baseman Jeff Bagwell for the final out to seal the no-hitter. As Bagwell tosses the ball to Wagner covering first base Brownie exclaims - "THERE IT IS!".
Brownie mentioned that he had thought from time to time about that same call Gene made in the Mike Scott no-hitter that apparently was the motivation for Gene's dismissal from the club. Gene had seemingly understated the occasion by simply punctuating the entire memorable moment with those three little words which - in effect - became one of the ignoble memorable moments in team history when this Astros icon was sent packing after 25 years behind the mic.
I'm paraphrasing here but as I recall, Brownie said , "I never really gave it much thought. It certainly was no where on my mind when Wagner and Bagwell recorded the final out. " In effect, it was automatic. An extraordinary moment in Astros history was materializing as he spoke and Brownie spoke those three words as it ended - "THERE IT IS!"
Since around 2004-2005 conversations began to focus on the possibility of Astros second baseman Craig Biggio reaching the 3000 career hits plateau. Before that idea even materialized though, back as early as 2002 former Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker was working on a deal to bring Giants second baseman Jeff Kent to Houston once Kent's current contract expired.
From what was being written in the local Houston paper, it seemed that Hunsicker was working on a plan to replace Biggio at 2nd with Kent in 2003. Hunsicker had already informed Biggio's agent that the Astros were not going to pick up Biggio's option which - in effect - meant that Hunsicker was no longer interested in Biggio's services. That all changed when Craig got wind of what was happening and immediately asked for a private audience with Astros owner Drayton McLane. After all was said and done, Biggio had a new two year deal. In the meantime though, Jeff Kent had also joined the Astros. Now, the Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker was facing a dilemma. He had two starting second baseman who were both going to be in the starting line up opening day. Biggio volunteered to move to another position which took Hunsicker off the hot seat. Thus Biggio began playing left field and centerfield on a daily basis, positions he had never played before.
But, it kept him in the line up everyday and eventually he would return to his old second base position in 2005 when the Astros decided not to pick up Jeff Kents option allowing him to walk and eventually signing with the Dodgers. During this point in time with Biggio able to stay in the line up, he continued to add base hits to his career hit total. By the end of the 2006 season, Biggio was within very close double-digit numbers of attaining the elite 3000 hit club. It was no longer a question of if Biggio would reach 3000 hits, it was now only a matter of when - barring a serious injury that would shelve Biggio for a long period of time - everyone began speculating on what date Biggio would get his 3000th hit.
Although Biggio's bat was silent quite often after the start of the 2007 season and a seriously deficient On Base Average staring him in the face which clearly indicated that Biggio was pressing, "Pigpen" was standing at 2997 career hits on Thursday June, 28, 2007 and a meeting with the Colorado Rockies that evening at Minute Maid Park. Craig Biggio needed just 3 hits to join the 3000 hit club.
In the Astros radio booth that evening ready to call another game in his long and illustrious broadcast career was the third member of the trifecta, radio play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton. Milo was not new to eminent moments in baseball history. Milo was in the Braves broadcast booth on April 8, 1974 calling Hammerin' Hank Aarons record breaking 715th career home run to pass "The Babe" as the leader in career home runs. So, Milo was used to these kind of moments and the hype that goes along with it.
And, everyone was certainly hyped. Everybody it seemed was betting what day Biggio would get his magic 3000. The safe bet was Sunday July 1st. Biggio was not hitting well at all. His base on balls were down dramatically. He was not even getting hit by pitched balls - part of Biggio's bag of tricks to get on base over the years.
Thus, even though Biggio was only 3 hits shy of 3000, nobody really expected him to get it all in one night. The way his bat was going, he likely could realistically be expected to join that 3000 hit club by the earliest on Sunday July 1.
Biggio fooled them all. By the 7th inning of Friday night's June 28th game, he had already collected two hits putting him one shy of the magic 3 grand. It was like there was electricity flowing through the crowd when Biggio stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 7th inning against Rockies starting pitcher Aaron Cook.
Biggio didn't make the crowd wait. He immediately laced a pitch to right center field driving in a run. Rounding first base, Biggio was determined to make that 3000th hit a double but he was cut down by Rockies centerfielder Willie Taveras while sliding into second base.
Biggio got his 3000th hit.
In the Astros radio booth, veteran broadcaster Milo Hamilton knew he might call another memorable moment in baseball history that day and by the 7th inning when Biggio came to the plate Astros broadcaster Brett Dolan stepped away from the microphone to let Milo have the chance to record the moment should Biggio get the hit.
No one really knows what's going through a person's mind at that moment in time. Some broadcasters prepare a call in advance as did Jack Buck when Mark McGwire hit his record setting home run. If Milo had a prepared call were Biggio to come through - the three simple words he did say would have likely been the very last words on his mind had he orchestrated a prepared call in advance. But that's what happened. Biggio laced the Aaron Cook pitch to right center and Milo instantly utters the words "THERE IT IS!" thus punctuating the trifecta - Gene, Brownie and now Milo.
There you have it. Three simple words spoken in the present tense indicative mood by the three most recognizable broadcast icons in Astros history. Was it just a coincidence? Were they orchestrated? We already know they were not. Was it the baseball gods mystically manipulating the minds of Brownie and Milo in a way that would pay homage to the man who was summarily dismissed for originally uttering those three words? Was it the result of all the planets being perfectly aligned at the very moment both Brownie and Milo uttered those words?
All we can know is that it did happen and it will likely forever be one of those many moments that came together that is now frozen in time never to reveal its secret, therefore I'll close this commentary by quoting from Mel Allen which I think is the appropriate gesture concerning this entire topic on Gene, Brownie and Milo - "HOW ABOUT THAT!"