Books For Astros Fans
by Ray Kerby, Darrell Pittman and Bob Hulsey

Updated August, 2012

So you want to know more about the history of the Houston Astros? Apart from some of the great fan sites devoted to the team, the best place to look is your local library or online book store. By my count, there have been books written by six ex-Astros, with Rusty Staub getting an "assist" in a seventh book. Several other historical books are available, from the days of the Texas League to the 1986 NLCS playoffs. Although the books vary in the quality and quantity of information, they are all good candidates for every Astro fan's bookshelf.

Several of the books are out of print and can be picked up rather cheaply. In addition, most of them should be available from your local libraries if you would like to "try before you buy". Links are provided, where possible, to obtain copies.

What about videos?

Ball Four
by Jim Bouton

This book is the original "tell-all" about baseball players and owners, and it led to Bouton being blacklisted for many years. When it was published, the less-than-flattering personal lives of players were not widely known, nor were the ruthless tactics of owners. Jim Bouton was a star pitcher for the Yankees in the early Sixties before arm problems forced him to resurrect his career as a knuckleballer. The book is well written in a diary format, and most of the book chronicles Bouton's 1969 season. Fortunately for Astros fans, Bouton was traded in mid-season to Houston and proceeded to immortalize, in print, the franchise's first real pennant run. About 75 or so pages are devoted to his experiences with the team, and this book is a must-read for any fan of the game.

Because of its enduring appeal, the book has gone through numerous printings, so the most recent versions of the book will have information not available in the first printing.

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A Six-Gun Salute
by Robert Reed, Rusty Staub

This book is an incredible compilation of the earliest years in the history of the franchise. Robert Reed has salvaged stories and memories about players that would have forever been lost if not for his efforts. The earliest years of Houston baseball are covered, from the Houston Buffs minor-league teams up until the opening of the Astrodome in 1965. The stories behind the acquisition of a National League franchise are covered in depth, as are the three "Colt .45" seasons from 1962 to 1964. Learn what it was like to play games in Colt Stadium during the mid-summer heat of Houston. Key players like Turk Farrell and Bob Aspromonte are covered extensively, along with many others. The debut of a young pitching phenom named Larry Dierker is documented, along with the tragic death of reliever Jim Umbricht. In addition, there are tons and tons of photos of the team's earliest players.

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A Life in Baseball
by Joe Morgan, with David Falkner

A well-written book by one of the greatest second baseman in the history of the game, Morgan details much of his career and opines about the current state of the game. Even though his greatest years were in Cincinnati, Morgan talks a lot about his early days with the Astros and his return to the team in 1980. He is not afraid to dig up dirt, and some of the "inside" stories about players are very interesting to read. You can learn about his relationship with veteran 2B Nellie Fox, who had the task of mentoring the young rookie. Morgan gives his opinion of the motivation for the trade of Rusty Staub, and gives an inside look at the personalities of Jimmy Wynn and Don Wilson. There is an inside look at the racism that Morgan experienced in the Sixties. Also, his opinions about Bill Virdon and the 1980 playoffs will certainly raise a few eyebrows. Morgan was truly a great player, and it is obvious from this book that he knows that. While some may complain that Morgan comes across as a "know-it-all", this book is still a very good read for Astros fans.

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Survive to Win
by Bob Watson, with Russ Pate

Bob Watson had a long, productive career with the Astros and is among the best players in franchise history. After retiring as a player, Watson became the first black General Manager in the major leagues, and held this position for the 1996 World Champion Yankees. The early portion of this book talks about his times with the Yankees, but Watson soon jumps back and spends about 70 pages talking about his days as an Astro. His early experiences with racism are recounted, and it is amazing some of the details he remembers about his early days. There are plenty of anecdotal stories, although nothing really controversial. He also talks briefly about his return to Houston as General Manager. He wraps up with a discussion of how his religious beliefs have shaped his experiences, and a look forward to his 1997 season with the Yankees.

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Throwing Heat
by Nolan Ryan, with Harvey Frommer

This book was written by Nolan Ryan after the 1987 season and accordingly gives plenty of space to his playing time with the Astros. Most other books about Ryan seem to treat his time in Houston as merely a pit stop between California and Texas, despite Ryan spending more seasons with Houston than any other team. OK, it's a personal peeve of mine. Anyway, I'd like to give a glowing recommendation to this book, but cannot. Most of the Ryan's observations involve himself and his pursuit of different statistical goals (wins, strikeouts, no-hitters). A sample excerpt: "My third pitch to Danny was a real good curveball. He swung and missed. I had wanted to be the first one to attain 4,000 strikeouts from the time I broke the Walter Johnson record, and it felt real good." There's plenty more where that came from, in addition to much high praise of Ryan from other players. If you are a Nolan Ryan fan, get this book. Otherwise, check it out at the library.

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The George Kirksey Story: Bringing Major League Baseball to Houston
by Campbell B. Titchener

A biography of George Kirksey, who did so much (perhaps more than anyone else) in the drive to bring an MLB franchise to Houston in the late '50s. The intrigue involved in Branch Rickey's abortive Continental League is covered in detail. Also, the early battles between Kirksey, "The Judge" Roy Hofheinz, Craig Cullinan, Jr., R.E. "Bob" Smith, and Paul Richards. By 1965, Hofheinz managed to push everyone else out of the organization. If you're interested in Colt .45s/Astros history, or learning about how Major League Baseball got to Houston and all the backroom dealings it took to get MLB to expand, this book deserves a place on your bookshelf.

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The Greatest Game Ever Played
by Jerry Izenberg

Written from a Mets fan standpoint, but still has lots of good information about individual Astros players, coaches, and management, including a detailed, inning-by-inning account of the epic Game 6, including what was going on in the respective dugouts. Most interesting is the Mets' mortal fear of Mike Scott, a theme repeated over and over. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in personal anecdotes and reflections about the 1986 Astros-Mets NLCS from those who were involved. Written in 1987, the memories were still fresh in their minds.

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One Pitch Away
by Mike Sowell

The story of both 1986 LCS's and the World Series, and how all came literally down to one pitch. The chapters are organized by individual players. The Astros featured are Bob Knepper, Mike Scott, and Billy Hatcher. There's a chapter on the tragedy of Donnie Moore. Also chapters on Bill Buckner and his infamous error, Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Dave DeCinces, etc. While this book has lots of good info on the '86 Astros, it appeals more to the general baseball fan. Prior to reading this book, I was oblivious to the fact that all three series came down to one pitch, which is quite historic. The Donnie Moore story was the most gripping of all for me. Second most-interesting is the story of how Buckner deals with the notoriety of his classic gaffe, ne'er to be forgiven in Boston.

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Nolan Ryan: From Alvin to Cooperstown
by The Sporting News; Rob Rains, Editor

This book is basically a compilation of all the stories about Nolan that have appeared in TSN over the years. If you're a big Nolan Ryan fan (as I am), you might want to pick this one up. It chronicles his career, as seen from the viewpoint of one publication. There are plenty of pictures and stats supplied along the way that fill in the gaps between the stories. Even so, it still comes across as rather dry, a regurgitation of individual stories, facts, and figures, without an overlying commentary tying the whole together.

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The Texas League, 1888-1987: A Century of Baseball
by Bill O'Neal

Plenty of good information about the Buffs, and the other teams in the Texas League. If you're a fan of minor league baseball, or the baseball history of any of the Texas League teams going back to 1888, this book is a must-have. In addition to historical information about the Houston Buffaloes (which the HSA bought out to clear the way for the NL Houston Colt .45s), I found out a lot about what would have been my hometown team, had I been born soon enough, the Beaumont Exporters. There's a great story about what happened to the Galveston Sandcrabs when their ballpark was right on the beach and high tide came in during a game one day.

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A Stitch in Time: A Baseball Chronology, 1845-2000
by Gene Elston. Introduction by Tal Smith.

Gene Elston was the original voice of the Houston Colt .45s and Astros, and remained so for about the first 25 years of the club's existence. The book showcases Elston's extensive knowledge of both baseball fact and lore. There is an entry for each day of the year describing at least one baseball-related event that happened on that date. Some of the daily entries have as many as seven stories. Some may have more. Those of you who have Elston's baseball calendar have a general idea of the kinds of stories he relates. Among the more amusing of the stories is that the Houston Buffaloes pioneered the use of short pants in their baseball uniform. Needless to say, the practice didn't last long. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in baseball history and trivia.

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That's the Way the Ball Bounces
by Gene Elston

This book is a collection of humorous short anecdotes from all the major sports, not just baseball. Some are truly funny, some are groaners. They tend to be the sort of humor items one would find in Reader's Digest. Some of the stories are truly funny, but I didn't enjoy this one as much as Elston's A Stitch in Time, mostly because I like my humor a little more sharp-edged.

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The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth
by David Siroty

The story of four New Jersey kids who grow up in baseball, take Seton Hall University to the Big East title and the College World Series in 1987, and make it to the Major Leagues.

The four kids are Craig Biggio, Mo Vaughn, John Valentin, and Marteese Robinson. The first three would play in the big leagues, while Robinson languishes in the minors, goes into law enforcement, then gets back into baseball as a Major League scout.

The book describes the legacy that Seton Hall coach Mike Sheppard leaves with them: their hard-nosed, no-nonsense style of play.

It's hard to imagine Spring Training in the snow, and players having to do their own groundskeeping, but that's what these guys went through, all at a basketball-crazy school.

Most poignant for me is the story of Biggio, who as a teenager befriended a neighbor kid who later came down with leukemia, then watched his friend die. No wonder his devotion to the Sunshine Kids.

There's also the story of Biggio at a high school practice, playing second base. A sudden thunderstorm blows in, and lightning strikes the field. The only player wearing metal cleats, the shortstop, is killed; everyone else is merely knocked unconscious.

The author, David Siroty, was Assistant Sports Information Director at Seton Hall at the time the four went through the school. The book is well written and chock-full of personal tidbits about the players involved, and about player development in general.

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This Ain't Brain Surgery: How to Win a Pennant Without Losing Your Mind
by Larry Dierker

"Plenty of people were surprised when Larry Dierker was named the manager of the Houston Astros at the end of the 1996 season, but perhaps no one was more surprised than Larry Dierker. Despite his status as a fourteen-year ace starter in the big leagues (thirteen of them with Houston), two-time All-Star, and well-regarded longtime TV colorman for the Astros, Dierker's hiring refuted conventional wisdom and deeply confounded most major league observers. For one thing, Larry had no managerial experience at any level of the game before taking over the 'Stros; for another, former pitchers rarely become managers (especially former pitchers with a taste for Hawaiian shirts and a talent for amateur songwriting); and, well, managers are supposed to become broadcasters, not the other way around!

"But, in his five years at the controls, Dierker guided the Astros to four National League Central division crowns and four playoff appearances, and was named the National League Manager of the Year in 1998. Employing on-the-field strategies at once cerebral and daring, adroitly handling every sort of distraction and disaster that can befall a team -- including suffering a nearly catastrophic seizure during a game -- he excelled like no other manager in Astros history, until resigning at the end of the 2001 season.

"Let's face it, after nearly four decades in baseball, Larry Dierker has been there and done that like no one else before him. In This Ain't Brain Surgery he reflects on his memories of growing up in the majors -- from learning the fine art of locker-room pranks at his first spring training to deciding what to say to the crowd when the Astros retired his number ("Aloha," naturally). With the unique perspective that comes from having studied the sport's angles from the mound, the broadcasting booth, and the dugout, Dierker draws from his vast experience to take on everything in the game with sharp wit, keen insight, and startling candor, inviting us farther onto the field, deeper into the clubhouse, and more fully into the baseball mind than we've ever been before.

"Brimming with indispensable analysis, thoughtful reflection, and raucous humor, This Ain't Brain Surgery is the finest baseball book since Ball Four, and marks Larry Dierker as a writer at the top of his game.

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A Kid from St. Louis: Jerry Witte's Life in Baseball
by Jerry Witte with Bill McCurdy

The dean of Houston baseball fans, Dr. Bill McCurdy (long known to many in the online Houston baseball community as "Houston Buff") spent several years interviewing, and in the process becoming close friends with, former Houston Buffalo Jerry Witte in the latter's declining years. The book is based on many hours of taped interviews with Witte and his family.

The narrative is mostly told in the first person, as if Jerry Witte himself had written it. McCurdy vividly paints Witte's story, beginning with his middle-class upbringing in St. Louis during the Great Depression, the work ethic and family values he learned, which stuck with him throughout his life, and which he unwittingly taught to others by example.

The travails of a minor-league baseball player struggling to make the majors and start a family in the era of the reserve clause are brought home to the reader through Witte's first-hand experience, and McCurdy's thoughtful prose.

Cover notes:

In A Kid From St. Louis, Jerry Witte speaks plainly and candidly about how life used to be for minor league professional baseball players during the reserve clause days. You had to love the game to survive, and you had to love baseball more than money. For old fans of the Houston Buffs and others, Jerry Witte's story will transport the reader back to that simpler time in baseball history and American life, if only for a short while.

The primary source for the writing of this book was the late Jerry Witte and the 80-plus hours of tape that Bill McCurdy compiled of him from 1995-1998. Gene Elston was the primary editorial reader of the manuscript to this book and an invaluable supportive contributor to the final result.

Photo and liner notes reproduced with the permission of The Pecan Park Eagle Press. All Rights Reserved.

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The Wild World of Sports
by Gene Elston

Review by James Anderson

From the Introduction of Mr. Elston's new book:

"Sports personalities are too often pictured as completely serious competitors, giving their all for the game. While sports naturally involves a very serious attitude, there is also a lighter side which fans are seldom aware.

This book has been compiled from a collection of those brief and pointed anecdotes as well as some of the outstanding short sports stories. Fortunately I had the foresight to begin and maintain a voluminous collection of sports humor over the years from which I have extracted what I feel are the best and most worthy of remembering.

I hope you will find this intriguing collection of sports humor and wit one of the most enjoyable, amusing and refreshing books it will ever be your pleasure to read."

After reading Mr. Elston's book, it is not only an "intriguing collection of sports humor and wit", it is also a very well researched history lesson packed with historical background information on each subject covered in the book. The book consists of 11 chapters and one epilogue which Gene appropriately titles "Extra Innings - Overtime".

Each chapter deals with a particular topic on sports, for instance, Chapter One is titled "(Jocks) In a World Their Own", Chapter Two titled, "(Coaches) The Sideline Entertainers", Chapter Three, "(Managers) Hired to be Fired", Chapter Four, "The Bottom Line) The Big Spenders - Economics 101" and Chapter Five "(The Brass)" Egotism At It's Best"....and so on.

Of course, each chapter's topic focuses on funny stories and memorable humorous quotes on that particular topic but as I mentioned previously, each chapter also includes in-depth historical background on each of the topics which brings to reason why this book is not only also very funny and enjoyable to read, but also very educational, thus anyone who also enjoys reading of the history of any sports topic will also thoroughly enjoy this book.

Here are some examples taken from Chapter One - "(Jocks) In a World of Their Own":

"To say the "flakes" or "screwballs" have disappeared from the playing fields and courts in this modern era of sports is not true. What IS true is that there are just fewer of them. But, still a laugher is MORE than a lopsided victory.

There still are many bona fide jocks with the natural wit that sets them apart from many individuals who would like to fit that talented mold, but only find themselves working at it. The NATURAL is determined by an inherent sense that is determined by nature.

Two examples: Pete Gray was a remarkable one-armed outfielder who played for the St.Louis Browns during World War II. One sweltering day, as Gray came off the field after a strenuous game in Chicago, he was stopped by an extremely talkative woman. Caught in a "sticky" situation, Pete tried to remain polite as the woman droned on and on about his handicap. After several uncomfortable moments, dripping with sympathy and sentimentality - to say nothing of the heat - the woman finally gushed, "You poor boy...just how did you lose your arm?" Pete saw his chance, and as he headed for the clubhouse he replied solemnly, "A woman in St.Louis talked it off!"

And, by Bo Belinsky: "Happiness is a first-class pad, good wheels, an understanding manager, and a little action."

Player quotes have a way of bringing the fan directly into the clubhouse or locker room and of helping to recognize the individual personalities of these athletes. Since direct contact is minimal there is no other way to look at these gladiators as every day human beings. It is, of course, not the final summation of their lives, but in most cases satisfies the people who watch daily and would like to get closer to them.

This story will illustrate the perception fans have of Yogi Berra. In his early big league days, pitchers could play on one batting weakness of Berra. It was a cinch to make the Yankees catcher bite on the first pitch, no matter its location.

Once, with Berra about to take his turn at bat, Yankees manager Bucky Harris drew him aside and cautioned: "Now look, Yogi, don't always take your cut at the first one. Wait for a good one and think before you swing. The idea is to think! Now get in there and do what I tell you."

Yogi picked up his bat, pulled down his cap, and took his place in the batter's box. He didn't bite at the first one. The umpire called it a strike. The second one split the plate. Yogi never moved. The third pitch, too, was a sweet one, but Berra watched it pass by.

Berra dragged his bat back to the dugout and dropped it on the pile. He walked over to Harris. "It's your own fault," Yogi said bitterly, "What do you expect? How can a guy think and hit at the same time?"

From the last chapter of his book "(Epilogue) Extra Innings - Overtime" Gene includes this funny story about former big league umpire Charlie Moran: "Charlie Moran who became a major league ump following a successful career of coaching football at Centre College, whose team's nickname was the "Praying Colonels".

One time during an argument with Moran over a decison, Fresco Thompson sneered, 'With you as coach, Moran, no wonder your team prayed!'. Fresco recalls that Moran had the last word, however, when he turned to Thompson, smiled benignly and said,'Young man, since you've turned this conversation into religious channels, suppose you go to the clubhouse and baptize yourself with an early shower!'.

Moran, who was well known as "Uncle Charlie", later was nearing the end of his long and commendable umpiring career when he got into a rhubarb with the Chicago Cubs over a decision. Several Cubs players charged from the dugout toward Moran, seemingly bent on tearing him to pieces in their anger. Charlie Grimm, the Cubs manager, hastened out to break up the commotion. Yet it was Grimm who got the thumb from Moran. Taking a firm stand between the umpire and his players, Grimm warned, "I'll fine the first guy who dares lay a hand on this blind old man!"~

Such are the great stories and quotes to be found in this latest and third book authored by former major league broadcaster Gene Elston. The Wild World of Sports consists of 108 pages, relatively short, as many books go, but in those 108 pages, Mr. Elston packs each page with his humor, wit and wisdom along with his tremendous background of the history of organized sports.

In Chapter Eleven "(The Malaprops) Sometimes They Know Not What They Say", Gene includes many misquotes and mistated comments by broadcasters, players and others. As the king of the malaprops as Gene alludes, Elston dedicates a large portion of this chapter to former co-broadcast partner and friend, the legendary San Diego Padres play-by-play announcer Jerry Coleman. So, I'll end this review on a quote from Mr. Coleman from page 97 of Mr. Elston's book:

"There's someone warming up in the bullpen but he's obscured by his number."

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My Team: Choosing my Dream Team from my Forty Years in Baseball
by Larry Dierker

Mantle or Mays? A-Rod or Jeter? Biggio or Morgan? Clemens, Maddux, and Randy Johnson -- or Pedro, Palmer, and Carlton? These are questions baseball fans can spend endless hours debating. Former All-Star pitcher and National League Manager of the Year Larry Dierker has his own opinions, and he shares them in My Team, his fascinating discussion of the greatest players he has seen in his four decades in the major leagues.

Dierker selects twenty-five players for My Team and another twenty-five for the opposition, the Underdogs, or "Dogs." There are two players at each position, five starting pitchers, and four relievers. (When your starters are the likes of Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Juan Marichal, you don't worry about bullpen depth.) All are players that Dierker has played with or against or watched in his years as player, coach, manager, and commentator. Each athlete must have played at least ten years in the major leagues to qualify, and players are judged on their ten best seasons. Leadership skills and personality -- critical components of team chemistry -- are highly valued.

So how is it possible to select two teams composed of outstanding ballplayers from the past forty years and not have room for Sandy Koufax, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, or Cal Ripken Jr.? Dierker explains his choices, analyzing each position carefully, always putting the team ahead of the individual player. He provides statistics to back up his selections, and often relates personal anecdotes about the players. (From his first All-Star Game in 1969, Dierker offers a wonderful anecdote about Hank Aaron, by then an All-Star veteran.)

My Team may start more debates than it settles, but Dierker's insights, and his passion for the game, will enlighten and fascinate true baseball fans.

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Armed and Dangerous
by Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Houston Chronicle beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz traces the origins of the Houston Astros' 2005 NL Championship club, their despair at being 15-30 in late May, their jubilation at getting into the postseason, winning the NLCS, then despair again in being swept in the World Series.

From the publisher:

Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane's hopes of ever landing Roger Clemens in a hometown uniform seemed to vanish with every tear rolling down the bug right-hander's cheek. As Clemens walked off the mound during Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, it all seemed to end. Clemens had made it pefectly clear to everyone that the 2003 season would be his last.

On that stroll on October 22, 2003, no one could have predicted what would happen exactly two years later. No one could could have forecasted the excitement Clemens would inspire a few months later by delaying his retirement to sign with the Astros, literally sending Houstonian sprinting to the [Union Station] box office. Joining his good friend and New York Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte, Clemens brought a buzz for baseball in Houston like never before.

Houston Astros: Armed and Dangerous chronicles the anticipation Pettitte, Clemens, and Astros starter Roy Oswalt brought to the Astros, pushing the organization to its first World Series. It analyzes the historic 2004 and 2005 seasons, beginning with the sensitive negotiations that brought Pettitte and Clemens to Houston. It details the overwhelming expectations that almost buried the 2004 Astros, prompting the firing of manager Jimy Williams before a 36-10 finish put the Astros in the postseason with the best finish in baseball in more then 50 years.

The book also chronicles the disappointing departures of stars Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran, who bolted for free agency and left the 2005 team seemingly hopeless. Many experts and even several of the players assumed the Astros would finish near the bottom of the standings, especially after All-Star Lance Berkman missed the first month of the season recovering from right knee surgery and club icon Jeff Bagwell was lost in May with right shoulder problems.

After falling to 15-30 on May 24, the Astros were discounted by most of the experts. The Houston Chronicle even put a tombstone on the cover of its June 1 edition declaring that the Astros' season was over. But a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. The Astros rebounded and won the National League wild card, going all the way to the World Series while becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to go from 15 games under .500 to the playoffs in the same season.

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Making Airwavres: 60 Years At Milo's Microphone
by Milo Hamilton

From the Publisher:

Milo Hamilton has called 11 no-hitters and a World Series, often in tandem with such broadcast legends as Jack Buck, Jack Brickhouse, Bob Elson, and Harry Caray. His work was so well-received that he was enshrined into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. He received an even more unexpected honor eight years later - election to the exclusive Radio Hall of Fame, of which only seven other baseball broadcasters belong. He has managed to work his way up from humble origins. The story he tells in Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo's Microphone is a tale of talent and determination, and a behind-the-scenes look at seven decades of baseball history.

Milo Hamilton has been the radio voice of the Houston Astros since 1985 and is a member of three Halls of Fame. The man who called Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run has also worked for the Browns, Cardinals, White Sox, Cubs (twice), and Pirates. The Iowa native made his radio debut in Guam as an 18-year-old U.S. Navy seaman in 1945. He began his long career behind a big-league microphone eight years later.

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Biggio: The Final Game
by Michael Hart

From the publisher:

On September 30, 2007, Craig Biggio, the man who made Houston a baseball town, played his final game in front of a record-breaking crowd in Minute Maid Park. The entire city felt the emotion as a twenty-year love affair on the diamond ended. In a time of team hopping, grandstanding, and questionable conduct, Biggio's slender physique casts an impressive shadow. He is a throw back to a nobler age of sport: a family man, a dedicated community service volunteer, and a Houston Astro since his rookie year. Biggio: The Final Game provides an intimate window on this baseball icon at the moving culmination of his career: the emotion of saying goodbye, the admiration of his sons, the roar of the crowd, and the respect of Houston. It is a fitting tribute for the man who taught us what it means to be an All-Star.

This beautiful visual record covers the entire time Craig was on the field, from the minute he walked into the dugout and surveyed the setting, until his final farewell and waves to the crowd as he entered the dugout tunnel for the last time as an active player. It includes his first at-bat, and subsequent hit - the last of his career - and his 668th double - most ever by a right-handed hitter, and 6th all-time. It is a record of his play, his emotions, his interaction with his family, and the crowd that was there to salute and honor him.

Opening with an insightful Foreword by Larry Dierker, the Astros' first twenty-game-winning pitcher, National League All-Star, award-winning Astros manager, and Houston Sport Legend. The Final Game concludes with a behind the scenes Afterword by Richard Justice, sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle, sports talk-show host of KGOW 1560 The Game, and a frequent guest on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption.

Michael Hart is a professional photographer in Houston, Texas. He has been on assignment to the Astros since 1989, and is a self-declared "huge fan of Biggio's." He originally created Biggio: The Final Game as a personal gift to Craig Biggio. In the process of documenting the game from this personal perspective, he has given a gift to all those who understand what truly matters about baseball. Owner of Michael Hart Photography in Houston, his honors and prizes include: Art Director's Club of Houston, Houston Ad Federation, Dallas Society Visual Communications, Communication Arts Magazine, Photography Annual, Print's Regional Design Annual, London Spyder Awards for B&W Photography, included in recent book of the best of the first three years of The Spyder Awards, The Best B&W Photography In The World.

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Toy Cannon: The Autobiography of Baseball's Jimmy Wynn
by Jimmy Wynn with Bill McCurdy

From the Publisher:

Despite the pressures of racism and a troubled young adult married life, a compact little guy named Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn achieved remarkable success as a major league power hitter. In his fifteen seasons in the major leagues, he hammered 291 home runs, three of which still rank as some of the longest balls on record. Following his trade from the Houston Astros after the 1973 season, Wynn's slugging and leadership presence on the field guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to the 1974 National League pennant. His last major league home run came as a member of the New York Yankees. It proved to be a dramatic first homer on Opening Day of the newly renovated Yankee Stadium in 1977, but this story is so much more than a statistical accounting of Jimmy Wynn's many accomplishments on the field. It is the story of a man who overcame some long odds to become one of the best little-man power hitters of all time. Jimmy's honest, forthright, and wise storytelling abilities allow him to take you along for the spiritual ride and, implicitly, how he came to be known and loved as "The Toy Cannon." In June 2005, the Houston Astros retired Jimmy Wynn's uniform # 24 for all time. The book is also visual. It features twenty-four photos of Jimmy Wynn's life, from childhood to his current career as a sports analyst for Fox Sports in Houston. Please join Jimmy for this special trip too. The train departs every time someone cares enough to pick up the book and make the journey with one of baseball's special people.

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My Baseball Journey: A Sportscaster's Story
by Bill Brown and Tim Gregg

From the Publisher:

Recognized as one of the top play-by-play announcers in baseball, Bill Brown is informative, humorous and inspiring. And so is his new book. It's a must for every baseball fan, but it's more than just a baseball book. Bill brings to life the stories of those who have inspired him, both personally and professionally, and he talks openly about his struggles to gain a foothold in the broadcasting business.

All proceeds from the sale of Bill's new book will benefit the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED), which provides support and assistance for individuals suffering from a debilitating disorder with no known cure.

From Sedalia to Saigon, from the Big Red Machine to the Killer B's and the 2012 season, Bill Brown charts every step of his baseball journey in the pages of this outstanding book.

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Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart
by Bill Brown and Mike Acosta

From the Publisher:

Many baseball fans associate the Astros with the Astrodome and Houstons glory days as Space City, but from well before that era, baseball in Houston has focused on against-the-odds innovation. Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart shares the stories of the plays and the players who have kept Houston returning to the diamondfrom the sandlot days, through the birth of indoor baseball, to the state-of-the-art experience at Minute Maid Parkwhatever the weather or the record.

By the time the Astros made it to the World Series, they had captured the heart of Houston. This richly illustrated volume chronicles the long road they took to face the White Sox in 2005 and provides insights on the legendsBob Aspromonte, Jose Cru-u-u-u-z, Larry Dierker, Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro, the Killer Bees and more. Packed with pictures never released to the public, each chapter increases fans appreciation of this determined team that has historically had more heart than glory. Memories and memorabilia from the teams playoff appearances from 1997 to 2001, their close call in 2004 and their triumphant march from tombstones to champagne in 2005 bring back the heyday, reminding readers how important it is to stay in the game.

From the big dreams of their beginnings, the Houston Astros have shown fans repeatedly that the skys the limit. As the team looks to the future with the return of legendary players to the front office and the development of new talent on the field, every Astros fan needs to know the stories behind this team that keeps swinging in the face of challenges. Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart will delight loyal fans, win new believers and keep readers rooting for the home team for the next 50 years.

Bill Brown marks his 27th season as the Astros primary play-by-play voice on television in 2013. With over 30 years experience broadcasting MLB games, Bill has received many honors and awards, including the Fred Hartman Award for Long and Meritorious Service and induction into the Houston Media Wall of Honor in September of 2011. He was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

Before joining the Astros, Bill worked as Senior Producer and anchor of the Financial News Networks SCORE program, Sports Director of the Sports Time Cable Network and was the television voice of the Cincinnati Reds. A member of the Advisory Board at Houston Sight Into Sound, he has been a volunteer reader for 22 years. He is the co-author of My Baseball Journey, A Sportscasters Story with Tim Gregg. He lives in Houston with his wife, Dianne. [Ed: Bill Brown is on Twitter: @BrownieTw]

Mike Acosta, who researched and provided the images for Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart, joined the Astros in the 1990s as a broadcasting intern and worked his way into a job as Authentication Manager that the Astros created especially for him. Known for his in-depth knowledge of team history and memorabilia, Mike is a frequent source for reporters and writers wanting information about all things Astrosfrom uniforms to home run balls, stadium seats to logos. Mike shares his wisdom on Twitter @AstrosTalk. He lives in Houston, and he keeps a large personal collection of team memorabilia.

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Videos For Astros Fans

A Silver Odyssey: 25 Years of Houston Astros Baseball
by Major League Baseball

This video was produced by the Astros upon their 25th Anniversary in 1986. It covers the history of the Colt .45s and Astros, from the drive to bring a Major League Baseball to Houston in the late 1950s and the effect of the fictitious Continental League, to the Astros winning the National League Western Division Championship in 1986, and the resulting NLCS against the Mets. The overall presentation is organized by decades (60s, 70s, 80s), and each is introduced by a NASA Astronaut from the same era. Alan Shepard handles the 60s, Gene Cernan the 70s, and Steve Holly the 80s.

Baseball's Greatest Pennant Races
by Major League Baseball

This video was produced by Major League Baseball in 1994, the year following the exciting NL West race between the Braves and the Giants. Six great pennant races are covered in this 60 minute video, and the 1980 NL West race between the Dodgers and Astros is covered. J.R. Richard's stroke is detailed along with the gut-wrenching three-game sweep in Los Angeles that forced a one-game playoff. This video is a good source for highlights of 1980 team, and would be a good addition to the video library of any orange-blooded Astros fan.

2005 Houston Astros: The Championship Season (DVD)
by Major League Baseball

For 43 years the Houston Astros and their fans watched the World Series from their living rooms wondering if the day would ever come when they would win the National League pennant and play in the Fall Classic. By mid-season, reaching the World Series would take a miracle. And that's precisely what made the Houston Astros 2005 season so remarkable.

The team overcame the worst start in franchise history, won the NL Wild Card on the season's final day and beat the Atlanta Braves in an 18-inning Division Series tm marathon. Then, behind ace pitcher Roy Oswalt, the Astros defeated the rival Cardinals, erasing 43 years of wondering as they went on to experience the World Series for the first time in history.

Bonus features: Clemens' 3 innings of relief in 18-inning NLDS Game 4, Chris Burke's 18th-inning walk-off home run. NLCS Game 6: Bottom 9th inning, Astros win pennant. Biggio's Hit By Pitch record tied and broken.

Houston Astros 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition (DVD)
by Major League Baseball

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary season of the Houston Astros franchise, Major League Baseball is making available a 5-DVD collection of Astros highlights. There is one DVD that covers the full history of the franchise from its early days as the Colt .45s up to 2011. The other four DVDs are top individual games in the team's history.

The games featured are the 1981 no-hitter by Nolan Ryan over the Dodgers, the 1986 pennant-clinching no-hitter by Mike Scott over the Giants, Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS against the Braves that took 18 innings to complete and was settled in dramatic fashion and the 2007 extra-inning game against the Rockies in which Craig Biggio had five hits, including the 3,000th of his career.