Loel Passe

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Loel Elijah Passe (/ˈləl ˈpæs/; May 29, 1917 – July 15, 1997) was an American sports broadcaster. After working for a radio station in Alabama, Passe was a baseball broadcaster for the Houston Buffaloes beginning in 1950; when Houston was awarded a major league franchise, the Houston Colt .45s (later renamed the Houston Astros), Passe was one of the team's broadcasters from 1962 to 1976.


Passe had worked in radio in Birmingham since at least 1944.[1] Roy Hofheinz owned several radio stations in the American South, including the Birmingham station that employed Passe. In 1950, Hofheinz hired Passe to broadcast for the Houston Buffaloes, a minor league baseball team.[2]

When Houston received the expansion Colt .45s in 1962, Passe was one of the major league team's original broadcasters, joined by Gene Elston and Al Helfer.[3] While Helfer only spent one season in Houston, Passe was partnered with Gene Elston from 1962 to 1976.[4][5] In a 1971 Sports Illustrated article, Passe said that he preferred the rare televised game to his radio work, but he affirmed his love for broadcasting, saying, "When you love baseball the way I do and broadcast major league games from the great cities of the country—man, that's living."[6]

While Elston was calm and neutral in the broadcast booth, Passe impartially cheered on the Astros, even when the team was not having a good season.[7] After a nice Astros play, Passe was known to use odd phrases such as "hot ziggity dog and sassafras tea!" During away games, the Astros Spanish-language broadcasts were not live, as broadcaster René Cárdenas simply listened to the English broadcasts and translated them. Cárdenas said that Passe spoke such non-standard English that his words often could not be intelligibly translated into Spanish.[8]

Passe did not miss a game during his tenure with the Astros, he remained on the Astros broadcasting team until 1976.[4] After leaving baseball, Passe was vice president of Osborne International, a freight company,[9] he died of cancer at his Houston home on July 15, 1997.[2][10] He was buried at Forest Park Westheimer in Houston.[11] Passe was posthumously inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.[12]


  1. ^ Billboard 1944 Music Year Book. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1944. p. 102. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Loel Passe, longtime Houston Astros broadcaster, dies of cancer at 82". Associated Press. July 16, 1997.
  3. ^ Light, Jonathan Fraser (2005). The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 768. ISBN 9780786420872. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Shea, Stuart (2015). Calling the Game: Baseball Broadcasting from 1920 to the Present. Society for American Baseball Research. p. 252. ISBN 9781933599410. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  5. ^ Barron, David (September 5, 2015). "Longtime Astros broadcaster Elston dies at 93". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Kirshenbaum, Jerry (September 13, 1971). "And here, to bring you the play by play..." Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Bishop, Jim (July 20, 1997). "Announcer brought life to Astros' early games". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Jamail, Milton H. (2008). Venezuelan Bust, Baseball Boom: Andres Reiner and Scouting on the New Frontier. University of Nebraska Press. p. 49. ISBN 0803217420. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Osborne International, Inc". Port of Houston Magazine. Port of Houston Authority. January 1, 1981. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  10. ^ "Texas Almanac: P". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 577. ISBN 9781476625997.
  12. ^ Bailey, Chip (March 13, 2012). "Hot Ziggety Dog! Astros' fans have listened to some of the best". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 29, 2016.