Buy the Book Now
About Bill
The Book
Meet Zach

About Bill


Former Houston Astros
Pitcher Jim Deshaies
on His Fox Sports Houston
Broadcast Partner Bill Brown

"Grinder" is a word that, like so many in the lexicon of sports, gets used and abused. Its use is especially prevalent in baseball. Hitters grind out at bats, and "come to play every day" while pitchers grind out the innings. Grinding best describes those with a workmanlike approach. Not flashy, but steady and always at the ready.

While we tend to ascribe this grinding quality to players, it applies off the field as well. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anyone who personifies this more than Brownie. Bill-and not James Brown (the two are not related to my knowledge)-is the "hardest working man in show business!" I can't tell you how many times through the years I've wondered "Who is this guy?" when some kid from Double A-ball shows up unexpectedly to face the Astros. Brownie, meanwhile, is never caught off guard. "I think I've got a card on him," he'll casually say. And he almost always does.

Bill spends countless hours in the off-season preparing index cards on just about every player in the game. National League, American League, even New York Penn League, he's got it covered. Brownie backing off a little in his preparation would be perfectly understandable. He's been doing this job for so long he could put it on auto-pilot and still be one of the best. But, that's not his style.

If you were to fly with the Astros on an out-of-town trip, you would likely encounter this fairly typical late-night scene: A whole bunch of people twisted up trying to sleep and one lonely light shining down on Brownie's seatback tray table as he fills out his record books and tears stories from the sports pages. Since 9/11, they won't allow him to bring scissors onto the plane.

Working with Bill is a real treat. He laughs at almost all my one-liners-even the really lame ones. He has that smooth, fluid style that is both easy on the ears as well as the brain. The Astros celebrated Brownie's twenty-five years of service with his own day in 2011. The team also gave him the highest honor which can be bestowed on someone associated with the game. He got his own bobblehead doll. For some reason, they placed a poor representation of me next to his smiling ceramic face.

I have one of those bobbleheads in my office at home and I like to give it a poke every now and then. It reminds me of the time Brownie and I spend together in the booth: Bill chatting away all-knowingly with me at his side, nodding in agreement.


From the Pages of
My Baseball Journey

Chapter 20

(Former Astros player and manager Larry Dierker talks about his years spent in the broadcast booth with Bill)

One of the first things Brownie told me after he landed the Astros' job in 1987 was that he felt like he had gotten out of jail. He had been doing sports for a financial news network, so, he hadn't exactly been working in his dream job. Plus, he and his family had been living in Canoga Park, California. I grew up near there in the part of town once called "Hollywoodland," so, I knew that wasn't the best of places to be raising a young daughter.

Brownie was in a hurry to stay put as a baseball broadcaster. His time away from the game gave him an appreciation for just how fortunate he had been to land the Reds' job at such a young age. By the time he touched down for spring training, he seemed to have had a full winter's worth of preparation. I didn't know it at the time, but that was just Bill. I remember he tried to get in as many of those facts into the first inning of his first exhibition-game broadcast from Florida. He was something a little different for Houston baseball. No one could say he was unprepared.

I always knew that Brownie had my back. He knew everything, even long lost things. One time in Atlanta, we were talking about nicknames and I mentioned that they used to have some descriptive, if elaborate, monikers. "There was one guy they called, 'Death to Flying Things' because of his prowess as a fielder," I said. "Oh, you're talking about Bob Ferguson," he replied. Ferguson played in the 1880s!

You don't know these things unless you've been a baseball fan from the moment you could read. It's a comfort to have a guy like that working next to you - like having a good catcher. And, I imagine it's a comfort to those folks who are watching the game at home, too.