Yesterday Priority One hosted Bill Brown, sports broadcaster for the Houston Astros, at their Mingling with the Media event. Brown has been with the Astros since 1987 and is a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the 2014 recipient of the Texas Sportscaster of the Year Award.
“I like doing these things because I remember when I was in college, we had speakers who really helped me in my career, and I think that it’s a part of the job description to try to help out young people,” Brown said. “I just like the energy [of] being around young people and answering questions.”
Phillip G. Warner Chair and Priority One Advisor Peter Roussel interviewed Brown on a platform for the audience. During the last 15 minutes, Roussel asked Brown questions that were submitted by students.
“I work for Bearkat Sports Network, and I am really getting hands on experience with broadcasting baseball games so when I saw that Mingling with the Media was going to have him here, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about my job and what I want to do after college,” sophomore mass communication major Monica Coleman said. “I learned a lot about the business.”
Brown discussed the paths he took in order to become successful in his career. He told the audience that he used to play baseball.
“Baseball is a very difficult sport, so I learned that I was not cut out as a player and therefore I wanted to be as close as I could to it and that meant broadcasting,” Brown said. “[Baseball] was just always my favorite sport. I think I like it because any size player can play baseball; you don’t have to be a bulking giant like in football or very tall like in basketball. I just love the strategy of the sport and the rhythm of it.”
Roussel asked Brown to share advice about which classes would be productive for students to take to gain experience in his field. Brown recommended students gain as much experience as possible and explained the benefits of an internship.
“I knew when I was 14 what I wanted to do,” Brown said. “I remember when I was a senior we had a senior English class and we were all asked to write an essay about what we hoped to be doing five years in the future and my essay was something along the lines of ‘I hope to be a Major League Broadcaster’.”
Brown graduated from Missouri State University. During school, he did high school and college play-by-plays which landed him his first job in Missouri. After serving in the Army, Brown was hired in Cincinnati where he worked for seven years.
“It was the time to be around some of the best baseball that’s ever been played and also to learn how it’s done from people who were at the top of the charts in their profession,” Brown said.
Brown shared with the audience that he lost his job with Cincinnati in 1981. Brown, his wife Diane and daughter Allison had to move four times in five years as he worked other jobs.
“It really surprised me when he said he went from Cincinnati and then didn’t have any work,” Coleman said. “That’s true about the business that we’re going to be in; you’re not always going to have work and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make money and make a living.”
The Houston Astros hired Brown about five years after he left Cincinnati. Brown commented on the changes of MLB throughout the years and he credited the players being seen more as entertainers as the biggest change.
“We are fortunate to be allowed into peoples’ homes, and what they deserve is to be entertained,” Brown said. “So that [responsibility] is on us.”
The Astros’ broadcasters keep their own personal scoreboards throughout the games. Brown used to collect his scoreboards from each game, but recently threw them out after moving to a new house.
“In baseball, there’s time to do the writing,” Brown said. “That way when you recap the game, it’s just right there in front of you.”
Being a Sports Broadcaster requires a lot of traveling. Brown visited SHSU just two days before he was set to leave or spring training.
“I like the interaction with people and it takes me back in time to when I was in college so it brings back good memories,” he said.
Roussel and Brown met through their mutual connection of being Bright Sky Press authors. Brown said that they spent two hours at Starbucks one day talking.
“He’s someone I’ve come to know as a friend and he’s had an outstanding career,” Roussel said. “I just thought I’d try to get him before the baseball season started and he very kindly agreed to do it.”
Roussel appealed to the SHSU baseball fans in the audience by asking Brown who his all-time favorite baseball player is. After a moment of thought, Brown answered Johnny Bench.
“I think he’s probably the best catcher of all time, and for someone to rank the best in a position of all time that would be unmatchable,” Brown said. “The combination of his hitting and his throwing– he blocked the plate as well as anybody.”
Roussel said Priority One had once again exceeded his expectations of this Mingling with the Media event. He said he hopes students learned from Brown’s experience and knowledge.
“I would advise [students] to try to pick a professional or two that they respect and just do some thinking about why they respect that person and find out more about that person and what got them where they are,” Brown said. “Try to contact people who are professionals in the business to try to get some advice and some feedback.”