The Houston Astros

I don’t talk about sports much on here.  But, if you really know me you know that I am a die-hard Astros Fan.  The only other guy I can think of that is as much an Astros fan as myself would be Jeff Whitney.  Grub you and I will always be bonded by the ‘Stros.

The spring of 1991 I was lost.  I had just been on a whirlwind in the last 2 years screwing up two different colleges, pissed my family off beyond measure.  Accumulated about 9 college credits in 2 years and I think those 3 classes I scored a ‘D’.  The summer and fall before I had met the love of my life, Trena.  We both took off to college but had a hard time paying tuition for both of us so Trena returned to Houston to work while I lived alone and tried to focus on my grades.  I knew that I had to change my life.  I knew I had to change my habits. I know I had to change.  Just change.  The previous 6 years all I knew was drinking beer and causing problems.  What would I do with myself?  How could I pass what little free time I had?

The Houston Astros became my answer.   I remember driving to the center of the Nacogdoches mall parking lot.  It was the highest elevation I could find in my little Ford Escort.  I was able to pick up radio reception from Houston on 610AM.  I listened to every spring training game I could while I sat in the car studying.  On clear days when the reception was bad I would drive south until I picked it up and pull over in whatever parking lot, ditch, driveway I could find and listen then while I studied.  I remember sitting once in the Lufkin zoo parking lot.  Laughing because the most exotic animal I could see over the fence was a cow.

The Astros became a way of life for me.  Instead of going out with a bad group of friends drinking myself stupid I would sit and watch the ‘Stros.  I loved the center fielder, Steve Finley; left field Luis Gonzalez, right field Eric Anthony, 3rd – Ken Caminiti; SS – Andujar Cedano, 2nd – Craig Biggio; 1st – Jeff Bagwell; C – Scott Service.  Biggio and Bagwell gave me hope.  They became an important part of my life.  They along with Trena contributed to saving me from myself.

When Biggio hit his 3000th hit 4 years ago today I was there.  This letter I found on Alyson Footnotes Blog he wrote to fans that I wanted to share with you.

Now that that the big night is over and we’ve all had a chance to reflect on the excitement that we all felt when hit No. 3,000 was finally in the books, I want to take a moment to thank you, the fans, and tell you what a thrill it was to  celebrate this milestone with so many people who have supported the Astros over the years.

If you were a fan here at Minute Maid Park, if you were a player in either dugout and obviously if you had my name and number on the back of your jersey, it was a very special night. It was one of those nights in baseball that doesn’t come around very often. For it to happen the way that it did, here at home, it really is beyond words. It’s indescribable, the emotions the went through me. I just have a total appreciation for the way the fans feel about the way that I go about my business.

I was born and raised in the east, but the city of Houston has become home to me and my family. To be able to play my entire career with one team is a blessing for all of us — for me, my wife, Patty and our children, Conor, Cavan, and Quinn. Life for a baseball player can be very difficult for a player and his family, but for us, to be honest, it’s been very, very easy.

We’ve been in one city, and when you’re in one city, you don’t have to keep picking your kids up, moving them around, worry about taking the kids out of school early, worry about summer vacations while concentrating on what’s going on with your season. I was very lucky. Part of playing in one city is not having to uproot your family. I’m very, very lucky for that.

I remember playing in the Astrodome in front of tiny crowds in the early days, and now, we draw close to three million fans every year. Jeff Bagwell and I can remember those old days and we’re very proud of what this organization has become. Our fans expect us to win. We expect to win. Not getting to the postseason is not an option. This is the reality of what we do.

We have taken our sports fans from loving the game of baseball to absolutely going crazy about it now. They follow us the way they do an east coast team. Baggy and I are proud of that.

It hasn’t always been like this, and there were times that I deserved to get booed and deserved to take the criticism that I’ve taken. But I think as a person and as a man, you stand up when things aren’t going well and you say, I just wasn’t good. I think the fans have respected that and appreciated the fact that when you stink you say you stink and you don’t sugarcoat it. Over a 20-year period we had some good times and some bad times, but in general, we haven’t had a lot to be upset about.

The night I reached my 3,000th hit, so many people who are important to me were there to see it. My family, Baggy, Nolan Ryan, the organization and the fans made that night so special. That night, I was a fan. Today, I’m a fan. It was unbelievable. From the standing ovations every single time up to the standing ovation when it happened.

It was important to me to bring Baggy out on the field. I was so proud of that, I was so happy for him to be out there one more time, because he wasn’t able to end his career the way he wanted. Hopefully, I can write my own story and leave when I want to leave, but he didn’t have that choice. So for me, that night, I wanted to really make my family No. 1 and he was No. 2.

I wanted him to be out there between the lines with me one more time, to enjoy it and for the fans to say hey, Baggy, we love you and thank you for everything you’ve done for the city. That night was just a magical moment.

To you, the fans, I just want to say thank you. I love you guys. Thank you for opening up your living rooms, your TVs, your hearts to my family and to me. As a player, it doesn’t happen like this very often. For it to happen, I just want to thank you for it and I love you guys for it. Thanks.

Craig Biggio

Thank you Craig Biggio

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