Longtime Astros broadcaster Bill Brown isn't one to typically bring attention to himself, which makes him an unlikely candidate to write an autobiography. But after some encouragement from a colleague, and buoyed by the idea of being able to raise some money for charity, Brown put pen to paper.
Brown, who's been behind the microphone for Astros games since 1987, detailed his early life and his career in the book "My Baseball Journey: A Sportscaster's Story," which was released in June. Brown co-wrote the book with Tim Gregg, a former sportscaster and public relations director on the women's tennis tour.
"I've been thinking about doing an Astros history book, which I had been working on for three years, and that hit a dead spot," Brown said.
Brown wanted to write a book to raise money for charity, and penned a 50-page book on the development of technology in sports broadcasting, which he admitted was a flop.
"Nobody would have bought it and nobody would have read it," Brown said.
Brown and Gregg met at a meeting of the Larry Dierker Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and decided to collaborate on Brown's autobiography. The book details everything from Brown's childhood growing up as an aspiring broadcaster in Sedalia, Mo., to his college years and his service in the Vietnam War.
Brown takes readers on his fascinating -- and often lighthearted -- journey as his career got rolling, with stops in San Antonio and Cincinnati, among others, before finally landing in Houston.
"I just didn't think it was that interesting, and Tim convinced me it was, and then he planned out all the chapters," Brown said. "I'd write the chapter and he'd read it and write about 12 more questions he wanted me to answer. We worked together from that point. As the thing started developing, we got some funny stories in there."
One of the many entertaining stories in the book details what Brown believed would be his first big broadcasting gig, calling a high school baseball state championship game. Brown skipped his senior prom and took a train across Missouri with hopes of calling a game, only to find out the play-by-play announcer wanted Brown to be his spotter.
"He had never intended for me to be part of the broadcast, at least not on the air," Brown wrote of his disappointment.
The book's latter chapters focus more on his time in Houston, detailing everything that goes into a broadcast, as well as a closer look at some of his former on-air colleagues, including Dierker, Milo Hamilton and current television partner Jim Deshaies.
"The feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams," Brown said. "That's probably been the best part of it. The charity is the biggest reason for doing it. That will always be what's most rewarding, but you don't want to put a book out there and people buy it for charity, and don't like the book."
All proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias, which provides support and assistance for individuals suffering from a debilitating disorder with no known cure. The condition causes abnormalities in hair, teeth, nails, sweat gland, digits and other parts of the body.
Brown befriended a young boy named Zach Hamm, who suffers from ectodermal dysplasias, and his story is detailed in the book. Hamm appears in a photo on the cover of the book with Brown and in a photo on the back cover with Brown and Craig Biggio, who wrote the foreword.
"Most people have never heard of this, never met a kid with this disease," Brown said.
It took Brown six months, writing for a few hours a day for six or seven days a week, to complete the book. Brown admits he's not the most patient guy in the world, which led to some frustrations along the way.
"I wanted the book out by Spring Training because I felt that was the best time to have a book out for sale, and Tim convinced me to wait for June," Brown said. "Tim talked me into a lot of things I didn't want to do, and he was right."
Brown still has hopes of finishing his book about the history of the Astros, for whom he's been behind the microphone for some of the team's most magical moments.
"I'm going to write it," he said. "It's going to come to fruition in some form or fashion because the story of the club is important, and there's some great stories and really information. And I don't want to drop it."
Excerpts from the book, photos of Brown's life and career and more information about ectodermal dysplasias are available at http://www.mybaseballjourney.com/. Books can be purchased from the site as well as at Amazon.com.