ROOTS 2: 1965 Astros Radio and TV Network

ROOTS 2 is the second of numerous columns The Pecan Park Eagle plans to publish from materials found in the old attic box of a now deceased 9o plus years old widow and original Houston Astros fan. As each of these new, but old treasured subjects unfold, they will always be entitled here by the introductory “ROOTS” DESIGNATION, plus the number in the series. Today features ROOTS 2, the second in this now and then, ongoing look at Houston’s baseball past from one small box in a fan’s attic. Enjoy! 

Voices of the Astros - Gene Elston (seated left) and Loel Passe (seated right) are the on-air broadcasters. In the background are engineer Bob Green (left) and producer Bob Boyne (right).

Voices of the Astros – Gene Elston (seated left) and Loel Passe (seated right) are the on-air broadcasters. In the background are engineer Bob Green (left) and producer Bob Boyne (right).


What follows is a restatement of the written material shown above from page 138 of the 1965 program, “Inside the Astrodome”:

The Houston Astros radio and tv network reaches over 17 million people on 25 radio stations and 12 television stations throughout the southwest (Texas and Louisiana). 

The Joseph Schlitz brewing company purchased the play-by-play broadcast rights for three seasons beginning in 1965 for $5.3 million dollars. The Coca-Cola Company and the Duncan Foods Company will be sharing the pre and post game show sponsorships.

Broadcasters Gene Elston and Loel Passe will be broadcasting 162 regular season games and 30 exhibition games on radio originating on KPRC in Houston. In addition, the Astros will telecast 14 road games on Sundays originating on KTRK-TV in Houston.

The Astros have a unique radio network set-up in that they are the only major league baseball club to operate their own complete network organization. Most clubs sell their rights to a station who in turn handles all packaging and network arrangements.

The Astros do their own “packaging”, network organization, production and promotion under Hugh Cohn, director of radio and television, and Dick Blue, supervisor of broadcast operations.

Bob Boyne, the producer of the broadcasts, and engineer Bob Green are always in the booth with Gene and Loel and make all trips with the Astros to visiting National League cities.

During the baseball season, the Astro network conducts special contests and promotions for fans including a “Miss Astros” contest and a “Boy’s Baseball Contest.”

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4 Responses to “ROOTS 2: 1965 Astros Radio and TV Network”

  1. Mikw Says:

    “Now, you’re chunkin’ in there, Bill.”

  2. Bob Hulsey Says:

    The 1965 season is also when Harry Kalas, a future Ford Frick Award winner, joined the broadcast team which had been simply Gene and Loel for two seasons after Al Helfer left from the original broadcast team.

    Kalas’ original duties were to do the pre-game show, one inning of play-by-play (typically the fourth inning) and conduct interviews during Gene’s post-game show.

    I recall those Sunday afternoon road game telecasts too which were, then, the only way fans could watch an Astros game without attending a game at the Dome. It is a shame that film of Astros broadcasts could not have been preserved. About the only moment from Astros tv that survived the Sixties was the clip of Jimmy Wynn’s homer onto the Cincinnati freeway in 1967. So sad that no other television moments survive of those early years.

  3. Tom Kleinworth Says:

    With apologies to Bill Brown, Jim Deshaies, Larry Dierker and Alan Ashby, Gene Elston always was and always will be the greatest announcer in Astros history. Sad that Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan didn’t get the chance to work longer and prove themselves. As for other announcers – the less said about some, the better.

  4. Joe Ricke Says:

    I happen to know that Tom Kleinworth played Loel Passe to my Gene Elston all through high school as we listened to Astros games at boarding school (often illegally after “lights out”) and fantasized about the day we would be radio voices of the team.

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