Holiday hires Dolan, Raymond reflect

Holiday hires Dolan, Raymond reflect on Year 1

As the holiday season kicks into full gear, it's the ideal time to catch up with a few Astros figures we haven't heard from since the season ended. Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond joined the Astros broadcast team last December, and after a "whirlwind" first season, they reflected on the past year, beginning with the day they were hired. You were hired a year ago, just six days before Christmas. Describe how you felt when they told you they were hiring you, and just how merry was that Christmas?

Brett Dolan: Whirlwind is a pretty good word to describe the whole year. When we came back to Houston for the final interview, we didn't know the other person was coming in, too. Things were looking good, but it was pretty nerve-wracking with the Christmas holidays coming up.

I kept telling myself, "You'll be better for having gone through the experience," but after going through the long interview process, you realize how great this job was and you hate to get this close and not get it, considering the team and the ballpark and the front office and people and everything. The whole package.

Dave Raymond: Let's just say that I wasn't terribly concerned as to whether or not I'd get a Rubik's cube on Christmas morning. It changed Christmas dramatically, of course. It was more like a five- or six-day celebration. It was fun and a surprise.

Before I got the call for the final interview, I had read on the Internet that the Astros were tabling everything until January. I was actually kind of relieved -- I could stop worrying about it and just enjoy Christmas. Then (club president Pam Gardner) called and said she wanted me to come down before Christmas. It was quite a surprise.

That day was surreal. We came to the office. They went to give Roy (Oswalt) his bulldozer. I was just watching two grown men exchanging bulldozers. I didn't know what I was doing there -- I hadn't yet been hired. They just told me to come to the press conference. So we go back inside, they took me to lunch at the Inn at the Ballpark, and Drayton (McLane) offered me the job. It was an incredible surprise and easily the best Christmas ever. You both have young kids. What's Christmas like for your families?

Brett: It's the first Christmas in Texas, and obviously, Daddy's home a little more than in previous years. We're exploring the new surroundings and taking in as many festivals and activities as we can in our area. It's been fun.

Dave: My family's coming in from Nebraska, my brother's coming in from New York City and (wife) Tish's folks are coming from Southern California. It's nuts.

It's the first time in my life where I've had just a lot of free time around the holidays. I've had time to put up Christmas lights, go cut down the Christmas tree, do things I'm normally too busy to do. I'm like Clark Griswold (from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"). Every day I'm putting up new lights, new knick-knacks to put up in windows. Offseasons can be long for broadcasters. What are you doing to pass the time?

Brett: I've been trying to ingratiate myself to Texas. The best way I know how is doing a lot of (radio broadcasts for) high school football. I'm meeting a handful of people you might not otherwise, so it's been nice. I've done a game from Reliant Stadium, and I'm going to San Antonio to do a couple of state championship games.

I'm also going to do some PA announcing for the Texas Bowl between Rutgers and Kansas State (Dec. 27).

Different sports are different challenges, and I find that fun. Baseball's the No. 1 priority, but it's fun to do football and basketball games in the offseason, too.

Dave: I'm golfing a lot. I can't be any more tickled with the fact that it's the middle of December, the temperatures are in the 70s and I'm wearing shorts. I take so much pleasure in calling my parents and brothers and telling them, 'Listen, I've got to run, I've got tee time in 20 minutes.' It's so much fun to be able to golf and do things outdoors in the winter. So, I'm trying to be as obnoxious as possible to my family during the offseason. How would you rate your first season in the booth?

Brett: As you look back, there are so many different things that go into it. I'm almost more excited for my second year than the first. The first year, you're going to new ballparks, meeting people for the first time, meeting players for the first time. It's a crazy whirlwind, and I think we got through it well.

You're meeting opposing broadcasters for the first time, opposing managers that you're trying to interview. There's so much that goes into that. It's organized chaos. I can't wait for Year 2. It'll be much more manageable.

Dave: I'd have to say Year 1 was everything you expect and want out of your first full-time Major League job, but at the same time, now having some time away from it, I recognize just how much there was going on. I guess it's comforting having Year 1 under the belt now. Now I know the names of all the people we work with on a daily basis. It's amazing, but all the support staff and people, whether it's at the radio station, the Astros, people on the road, there's no end. My universe of acquaintances has doubled or tripled in the last year. It was fun. I had a blast.

Working with Milo (Hamilton) was initially intimidating. But it was one of the absolute highlights of the year. It was a lot of fun. He was really good to us. What's at the top of your baseball Christmas list?

Brett: Well, being so close at the end of September and even into October and not get to the playoffs, obviously, a couple more wins would be nice. And, I would like to see Carlos Lee have a huge year. That would pick up a lot of slack, so a huge offensive year from him would really bode well for the offense and the team.

We just had our Astros Christmas luncheon, and they gave us a gift bag, which included a Roger Clemens autographed baseball. That ranks up there with one of the best Christmas gifts you can get.

Dave: I just want to hang out more with Brad Ausmus and Mike Lamb. That's really all I want. I just want them once to acknowledge the fact that when we're out somewhere other than the ballpark and I'm within 20 feet of them, we're technically "hanging out." I want them to acknowledge that. They don't even have to speak to me. Like at the baseball dinner in January, Brad will be there and I will be there. Technically, absolutely, we're hanging out.

Also, I want more 18-inning games.

I am looking forward to the Astros getting back to the playoffs in their rightful spot at the top of the division. Especially should it come at the expense of the Cubs, who spared no expense in the offseason.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.