KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- For longtime Astros broadcaster Bill Brown, getting a book published on the history of the team was a labor of love. But it was labor nonetheless.
"If there were such a thing as a woman being pregnant for three years and being relieved when she finally has a baby, it's somewhat akin to that," Brown joked.
Brown and Astros employee Mike Acosta have given birth to "Deep in the Heart: Blazing a Trail from Expansion to the World Series," a 192-page blue-and-orange trip down memory lane that's a must-have for anyone who grew up cheering for the Astros.
From the expansion Colt .45s in 1962 to the present-day Astros under the ownership of Jim Crane, "Deep in the Heart" takes fans back in time to relive some of the franchise's greatest moments and players with the help of hundreds of photos of players, memories and memorabilia.
Published by Bright Sky Press, the coffee table-style book will be available for the first time at Minute Maid Park on Opening Day on March 31 for $39.95.
Brown, who's in his 27th season as the team's television voice, began working on the book in 2011, which was the Astros' 50th season. He had to table the idea until Crane, who purchased the Astros that year, provided the financial backing to get it rolling.
"After the '05 season, it became a prevalent thought that this club should have a history book now that it's finally gone to the World Series," Brown said. "There's never been a history book about the Astros. There was one on the Colt .45s' three years, but I thought somebody would be thinking about writing this book, and nothing seemed to develop.
"I decided to approach management and see if they would have a thought about doing it."
With Crane's support, Brown and Acosta went to work. Brown interviewed dozens of former players, coaches and managers and got the stories that define a franchise. Meanwhile, Acosta rounded up more than 1,000 photos and oversaw the use of their arrangement. The photos are as fascinating as the stories.
Astros fan Richard Korczynski donated photos he took of the first pitch at Colt Stadium (1962), the Astrodome (1965) and Minute Maid Park (2000), and NASA gave permission for a photo of the space shuttle getting a piggyback ride over the ballpark.
Never before have so many photos and memories of Astros days gone by been put in one collection, and Brown hopes it becomes a must-have item for any Astros fan.
"That's what we're certainly hoping," Brown said. "There are some classic photos people haven't seen before, and some others they have."