Houston Matters

Astros PA Announcer Bob Ford: A Man As Friendly As His Voice Is Booming

While the 2017 Astros bear little resemblance to what we saw from the ball club just a few years ago, there has been at least one constant for the ‘Stros for more than 20 seasons now, as Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty told us last year.

Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media

A lot has changed about the Houston Astros in just the past few seasons, from the players on the field to the team's ownership — to even the uniforms. But Michael Hagerty takes us behind the scenes of one aspect of Astros games that hasn't changed in more than 20 seasons — public address announcer Bob Ford.

Since 1994, he's been the booming voice announcing batters and rallying fans at the Astrodome and then Minute Maid Park.

So while his voice might be very familiar to many Houstonians, you’re probably less familiar with the man himself – if you know anything at all.

From the minute you meet Ford, it's clear he's as friendly as his voice is booming. Bob seems to know no strangers – from the ushers outside the suites to the guy throwing out the first pitch. But, for most fans, he's anonymous – a disembodied voice, as he says, "woven into the fabric of the game" along with the crack of the bat, the catcalls of beer vendors and the roar of the crowd.

He likens himself to the “man behind the curtain” — like in The Wizard of Oz. But how did he get behind that curtain?

From a young age, nuns at his Catholic school in Galveston took notice of his unique voice and encouraged him. As a 13-year-old, he'd announce Pony League games and scored his first radio gig at age 15. That eventually led to a long career in Houston radio and voice over work.

So when the Astros were looking for a new announcer it turned out that familiar voice helped him — in a way — have the job in the bag before he'd even auditioned. Bob Ford Block QuoteThe story goes that an Astros VP had said he wanted an announcer who sounded like the guy who did voice work for the regional sports network Home Sports Entertainment. Well, that just so happened to be Bob Ford. So when the VP heard Bob’s recorded audition tape, the gig was his.

And ever since – some 81 nights a year – Ford will take a break from his voice over business to make the drive in from Galveston to announce the Astros.

"It's not like it's work,” he said. “You know, obviously it is work. It's a job. But, you know, we get to pull up to the bar there and all of us get to watch a baseball game every night."

MORE: Astros PA Announcer Bob Ford Discusses His Favorite On-Field Moments