CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Remembering Gene Elston and nights with a transistor radio


Happy Sunday friends! The Astros are within spitting distance of a .500 record, but who cares about that anymore? Six months ago, .500 + 2 or 3 would have been a success story. Now, it would likely be considered somewhat of a disappointment by many, including the Astros’ leadership.

Meanwhile…

The Astros lost a legend this weekend. Gene Elston, the original voice of the Astros — and Colt 45s — died Saturday at 93. Whether you remember listening to him live or you simply have heard of him through history, you know that the Hall of Fame announcer has a special place in Astros’ lore.  He was the voice from 1962 until 1986, which means, yes, that he covered those two famous ’80s teams. For me, he was my first introduction to baseball radio announcers. Still remember snuggling under my covers with that little transistor radio crackling while I listened to Astros’ games on KWKH in Shreveport. Why under the covers? Well, as most little kids do, I had a bed time and I had to try to be quiet so mom and dad didn’t know I was still awake…sometimes at midnight if the team was on the West Coast.

There were many of those nights since television had only a game of the week back in the day. Radio was the way to go. Of course, he made the transition to television smoothly, even for a guy who wasn’t born into the television era. He introduced me to J.R. Richard, Terry Puhl, Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub and even Joe Morgan among others.

He didn’t have the opportunity to introduce me to Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti and I can only imagine if he’d been able to call the games of this current team with Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Altuve and George Springer.

Elston had a way of bringing the game to life before television was prominent in baseball. His partner, Loel Passe, was actually the color guy and, yes, he was colorful with popular catch phrases like: “Now you chunkin’ in there J.R.!” and “He breezed him, one more time!”

I met Gene Elston at a Cotton Bowl game around 1980. Had a chance to tell him of my late nights with the transistor radio and got some pictures (which I’ll need to find).

If you have time and would like to watch Elston and some great Astros’ history, watch the last half inning of Houston’s famous 2-0 over San Francisco and Mike Scott‘s no-hitter.

Yes, there have been plenty of great announcers over the years for Houston. But none outshine Gene Elston.

 

We’ll leave it there for today. I’m guessing you have memories of Gene yourself or those first 25 years of Astros’ baseball. Leave your thoughts here this morning and of those glorious early years of the Astros.

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

128 comments on “Remembering Gene Elston and nights with a transistor radio

  1. Becky
    September 8, 2015

    Well this time it’s for REAL!! The “baby” Greenville Astros won the Appalachian League championship!!! Kyle Tucker hit (I think) 3 homeruns!! Congrats boys see you in 2-3 years!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Becky
    September 8, 2015

    You load the bases with one out……and you get NOTHING. Situational hitting…situational hitting. JEEZE.

    Like

    • sandyvoronin
      September 8, 2015

      These hitters are terrible with men on base. Just terrible.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 8, 2015

      How can the Astros justify starting Conger over Stassi? What in Jeff Luhnow’s computer shows Conger is a better option behind the dish?

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 8, 2015

        He can’t.

        Stassi needs a legit shot. Look at the record when Conger starts!!!

        Like

  3. 1oldpro
    September 8, 2015

    The Greeneville Astros came from behind twice and got a terrific 4 inning relief job from Edgardo Sandoval, who finally shut down Princeton’s bats and Greeneville wins the Appy League Championship 8-7 on the road. Tucker had two hits, as did five other Astros, but his three run homer got us back on top the second time.
    Congratulations to a team that was 7-8 after 15 games and comes back to win their league.
    The two 18 year old outfielders did very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert
    September 8, 2015

    We can’t buy a hit with RISP. We have to get the bats going or our lead will only be 1. It’s not a lot of fun right now. Hoping that the bats will catch fire in the top of the 6th.

    Like

  5. Becky
    September 8, 2015

    Rangers hammered the Mariners. I’m going to bed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim
    September 8, 2015

    Not even a sunshine post from Brian can get me off this cliff. I am just wanting the wild card at this point. The division just isn’t happening, folks.

    Like

  7. Tim
    September 8, 2015

    The good news is the Twins lost and the Angels are down 6-1 as I type this. The wild card is still a decent possibility.

    Like

  8. Robert
    September 8, 2015

    Qualls is in so the A’s lead will now increase to 10.

    Like

  9. Billy Castillo
    September 8, 2015

    Anybody else think we should pass on resigning Kazmir?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin_
      September 9, 2015

      No, I don’t think we should take a pass, but shouldn’t go all-in either. I’m a blatant homer, but would predict Kazmir to fall somewhere after Keuchel and LMJ in our rotational ranking next season. I think he is slightly better than McHugh – although the ERA would indicate there is no slightly about it. So, how much are you willing to spend for a #3 who can slide up to #2? I think $13m annually feels about right, but if Price starts the market into a frenzy with a Scherzer-esque contract I think Kazmir could get a smaller number of years but bigger annual cost than Houston will pay. Unless you think Velasquez can stay healthy, slide into the rotation, and perform consistently I think just letting Kazmir walk without an attempt to sign is bad business.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. 1oldpro
    September 8, 2015

    I just can’t watch anymore. There are so many bad hitters on this club. I am so frustrated. And T Walker, who literally handcuffed us last week, gets eaten up by the Rangers tonight.
    At least I can follow real hitters in the minors tomorrow.

    Like

  11. Steven
    September 9, 2015

    Someone needs to talk you guys down off the cliff.

    Pro – we beat up Walker a few weeks ago. The guy is an inconsistent young kid, he has stellar days (because of great stuff) and he has not so stellar days.

    We are still in first place. No team should be playing for the WC and a one game play in, even if you have Keuchel in that one day play in.

    Baseball is cyclical. The Rangers have a -30 run diff on the year. They are playing well, but due regression to the normal. The Astros are also due a little win streak, and getting off the road will help that. This has to be the worse road team that’s ever been in a pennant race.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tim
      September 9, 2015

      Thanks Steven, but it didn’t work. I am still on the cliff and am conceding the division to Texas. That run differential you mention has been steadily getting better. This is not the same Texas team that had Ross Detweiler and Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation. Simply put, they are a better team than the Astros right now and have a favorable schedule going forward with significantly more home games than road games. Yes, I know they have played better on the road than at home, but they are playing much better at home recently and they are a much improved team than 2 months ago. The Astros picked the wrong time to have their first losing month of the season. Heck, everyone of us would have gladly taken the wild card before the season started and I will still take it. It’s better than not making it at all.

      Like

    • daveb
      September 9, 2015

      Our manager has done a pretty good job all season and I do not want to start second guessing him at this pont, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why Tucker was sitting and both Gattis and Marisnick were playing against a tough righty. Kazmir might be out of gas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • astrocolt45
        September 9, 2015

        As to “out of gas” here are the innings pitched with 23 games to go. Innings pitched:
        Keuchel 200.2 – McHugh 173. – Kazmir 164, and Fiers 155.

        Like

      • Devin_
        September 9, 2015

        Agreed – my best lineup for that game has Rasmus in LF and Tucker at DH. It’s great to be all Zen master when it works, but when it doesn’t…

        Liked by 1 person

      • sandyvoronin
        September 9, 2015

        I can’t understand why Tucker can’t at least DH against righties. Something’s odd about that situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tucker traded this winter.

        I heard Ashby And Blum talking about Strom working with Kazmir. They want him to throw the cutter less and the breaking ball more. I didn’t get the whole conversation but I’m wondering why not wait till the season is over.

        Like

      • uncleknuckle
        September 9, 2015

        45, I’ve seen the stats on who has thrown how many innings. Kazmir is not throwing as he was earlier, or at least that’s how it appears to me.

        Like

  12. astrocolt45
    September 9, 2015

    I just do not understand why you people continue to complain about Carter. His batting for the year is .181. But for the last 7 games it is .182. And for the past 15 games it is .179. Say what you will – he is very consistent. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Billy Castillo
    September 9, 2015

    Castro is due back Friday v LAA. Guess that means Conger again tonight, because God forbid Stassi gets the start. We gotta keep that up and comer Conger in the lineup! He frames so wonderfully.

    Like

    • Becky
      September 9, 2015

      Billy…..Castro is at least 7-10 days away from coming back. He has just started using the treadmill. He hasn’t even started squats yet. THEN he has to go on a couple of rehab starts before he comes back to the club. We are stuck with Conger until then.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 9, 2015

        Ahh… that newspaper of ours had a misleading headline. He’s just going to travel to Anaheim with the team.

        Like

  14. 1oldpro
    September 9, 2015

    As you might expect, weird things happen in the minor leagues. Last night, the run that decided the Appy League Championship came in on an intentional walk ball four wild pitch.
    Every game of the Appy league playoffs was won by the road team, 11 wins for the road team, 0 wins by the home team.

    Like

  15. Becky
    September 9, 2015

    If I hear one more of our guys say “you have to tip your cap” to the opposing pitcher, I’m gonna hurt someone. If I had any firecrackers left from the 4th of July, I’d put them in the Astros pants! No…..don’t “tip” your cap, hit the dang ball and get up off the mat!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Like

  16. astrocolt45
    September 9, 2015

    I find baseball stats interesting but very puzzling. Per the Pythagorean the record for the Rangers should be W-L: 66-71. The Astros Pythagorean should be W-L: 81-58. But then again, baseball is played on a diamond, not a triangle.

    Like

  17. Tommy Lazrine
    September 21, 2015

    I also grew up with the voice of Gene Elston under my pillow. I believe he was every bit as talented as Milo Hamilton and am greatly irritated that Crane and the GM can place Milos name on the pressbox and his initials on team jerseys but can’t do more than a short press release on Gene. There should be something to honor Elston at the park but I don’t see it anywhere. Hopefully they will correct this but I doubt they will.

    Like

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This entry was posted on September 6, 2015 by in Astros.
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