A special holiday salute from us, to you. (With pictures, of course!)

This holiday season, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Me? I’m thankful for Tim Kurkjian.

I know what you’re thinking. There have to be at least 100 people I should put on my list of life’s blessings before getting to Tim Kurkjian. Not that I don’t like Tim; in fact, not only do I think he’s the smartest baseball mind on the planet, he’s also delightful in person and just a heck of a nice guy.

But to understand why I’m thinking of my favorite ESPN baseball personality as I enjoy a little Yuletide cheer, I have to backtrack a bit — to mid-February, a few days after the entire baseball world reported to Spring Training.

At the time, I was covering the Astros for MLB.com. While many of my fellow reporters around the league already had blogs, I had stubbornly resisted. As if I didn’t have enough to keep my busy from day to day. And I stood by my convictions, until my boss informed us if we didn’t already have a blog, we had to start one. Immediately.

So there I was, sitting in the media workroom at Osceola County Stadium, trying to figure out the blog software. I figured posting pictures on the blog might be a nice little added touch, so I experimented with what I already had on my hard drive and eventually decided it was time to try to post one live on my new blog.

That’s when Kurkjian walked in, ready to do a spot for ESPN. Although Spring Training is casual — most people wear jeans and shorts and t-shirts — ESPN required its reporters to wear ties. The shots only show the reporters from the waist up, however, so Tim took a bit of a shortcut that many on-air folks take. He wore a button down shirt, a tie…and shorts and tennis shoes.

The imagery made me laugh out loud, and I snapped a picture. I asked Tim if I could post it and he gave his blessing. 


So what “Video Killed the Radio Star” was to MTV, Tim Kurkjian is to me —  the very first picture I ever posted on my blog. Little did I know, it would be first of hundreds of photos I would post over the course of the next several months, and it shot to the top of the list as my favorite thing to do while working. More on that later.

This brings me to the person I’m second-most thankful for — my good friend and colleague Matthew Leach. Matthew covers the Cardinals for MLB.com and therefore is the reporter whom I have spent more time around than any other in the last decade. Not only do we travel to each other’s cities three times a year, but we’ve spent many an October side-by-side in the press box, watching our teams play incredibly memorable playoff baseball the rest of the country missed because they were too busy watching Yankees-Red Sox.

But that’s not why I’m grateful to Matthew — no, I’m grateful to Matthew because he is the one who introduced me to Twitter.

We were, not surprisingly, in the press box, watching an Astros-Cardinals spring matchup in Jupiter, Fla. Matthew and someone from a St. Louis radio station were trying to explain Twitter to me, and, typically, I wasn’t quite catching on, because, frankly, it really didn’t interest me all that much.

“This is dumb,” I said flatly.

“Give it time,” Leach said. “Twitter isn’t something you can explain. You just have to experience it.”

I rolled my eyes, but gave it another try. And another. And another. And soon, as Leach predicted, I was hooked. Just like that, I was officially addicted to social networking.

In the ensuing weeks, I became somewhat of a new media madman. I didn’t go anywhere without my camera, and my blog became one gigantic photo gallery. I then started posting those pictures on a Facebook page that became less about my personal life and more about telling the behind-the-scenes story of the hometown nine.

What started as an enjoyable hobby turned into a fabulous job opportunity — with the Astros, who had already realized that social networking is not only here to stay, but is taking over as the No. 1 way teams are communicating with their fans and marketing their product. They created a new social networking position, and asked me to take it. I did, and I’m so glad I took the plunge.

“Real time” is a very real thing, and it’s been an absolute blast giving you the play-by-play as it is happening. Not the on-field play-by-play, but rather, the news, anecdotes and behind-the-scenes view that brings a baseball team to life.

From tidbits from the manager’s sessions to Puma one-liners to what players eat during flights to the funny interactions in the clubhouse before a game, I hope you’ve enjoyed the peek into what makes a baseball team tick.

In good years and bad, there are always stories to tell. The best part of social networking is exposing players as people — people who have families and personalities and interests, just like the rest of us.

Social networking in sports would be nothing without fan interest and interaction. So I’m dedicating this blog to you (although Tim Kurkjian runs a close second). As we head into the new year, please enjoy this pictorial holiday greeting from some baseball folks I think you’ll recognize. Happy holidays, from the Astros family to yours. See you in 2010!

Lance Berkman


Bud Norris


Hunter Pence


Rhonda and Brad Mills


Craig Biggio


Jeff Bagwell


Wandy Rodriguez


The Lyon family — Sara, Andrew and Brandon


The Sampson family — CJ, Heather, Colt and Chris


J.R. Towles


Drayton McLane


Ed Wade


Pam Gardner


Tal Smith


FS Houston’s Patti Smith


FS Houston’s Kevin Eschenfelder


FS Houston’s Greg Lucas


FS Houston’s Bart Enis


Enos Cabell


Athletic trainers Nate Lucero and Rex Jones


The clubhouse crew: Carl Schneider (home), Steve Perry (visitors), Dennis Liborio (home)


Milo Hamilton


Dave Raymond


Jim Deshaies


Bill Brown


Brett Dolan


Phil Garner


Art Howe


Larry Dierker


MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart


 The end…(sort of).

Right after I took the picture of Wade posted above, Drayton walked in, grabbed my camera and thought it would be fun to include a picture of myself and Wade in this blog. I disagreed. Oh, did I disagree. But in true rock/paper/scissors fashion, owner beats professional blogger, every time. 

Happy holidays!


Astros are on Facebook

Follow Alyson Footer on Twitter  

Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com  


You do a great job, always. Even when my fandom has had diminished returns, your efforts don’t disappoint. Thanks!

And let me just say that the only reason I got on Twitter to start with was to get your updates during the ASG! I guess it’s a bit of a domino effect, so thanks for the intro. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you as well!

Thanks danyah! Appreciate the nice comment. Happy holidays to you and yours! Alyson

Alyson, you have no idea how much you add to the lives of many of us Astros fans. Thanks for these pics and for all you do. Your tweets are so much fun. I read them to my husband who says Twitter is stupid yet loves to hear me tell him what you’ve said about our Astros.

rlk, thanks a million. Glad you like the tweets. I have to admit it’s become somewhat addicting over the months. It’s almost scary how quickly we can transmit information these days…

Ugh, I don’t care if they’re going to be bad, I want to see my guys play again…*sigh*

There’s got to be a good story/blog about that colorful board behind Ed Wade. Maybe some kind of special, complicated free agent player ranking system or…something?

Nothing that exciting, Ashitaka…just a listing of all players on all teams. The colors probably separate them by position (not sure, I’ll have to check on that)

Thanks for the pictures Alyson. They’re really great. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too.

Aww that’s great! Thank you for sharing!! This blog and the many pictures you posted made my day! Twitter just needs getting used to I adore it!😀. Happy Holidays and happy new year to you too!

signed newbie blogger


Very clever as usual.
And a robust Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you and the crew too!
James Anderson

alyson, your blog this year has been my favorite thing to read on the internet. being stuck in atlanta made it somewhat cumbersome to follow the ‘stros this season but you, as well as brian mctaggart, have done an outstanding job keeping me informed of all the goings on that the chronicle just can’t provide.
i especially enjoyed your segments behind the scenes of a road trip, and roy oswalt’s fish and steak house grand opening. your updates on twitter were equally helpful in staying informed on all things astros baseball. thank you for answering my questions! i look forward to next season and to see what you have in store for us all!

It’s tough being an Astros fan sometimes. However, as is always the case – you, Patti, J.D., & Brownie more than make up for it. Looking forward to 2010.
Happy Holidays to all of you

Thanks so much to everyone for the nice comments…it’s nice to know that you’re reading, and that you are getting so much enjoyment from the blogs. That’s why we’re here! Thanks again, happy holidays, and I’ll see you in 2010…

Great pictures, thanks! Must have taken a lot of work to get everyone in on it. Wandy’s t-shirt looks very metal, ha.

Got to the end of the post, and was just thinking, it’d be nice of a pic of the blogger would appear from time to time! Cool! Way to go Drayton!

Funny you mention about blogs, because I was the same way, I was always critical about the blogosphere, noting that I really didn’t need to know about everyone’s every move during the day, i.e. “At 11:30am, I looked to the left.”

But now, as time wore on, and after reading this article, I realized I have three favorite websites I check each day, this one, the blog my wife does regarding our sweet adopted son Eli, and the blog of my favorite rock n’roll band.! I especailly enjoyed your coverage during the Winter Stove Meetings. That seriously rocked!

Wanted to write and wish you a belated Merry Christmas and an awesome 2010! Take care, Scott in LR, AR

Great pics!
Could you explain what is on the wall behind you and Ed in the photo that Drayton took?
Looks like color coded player rosters for each ML team. What do the colors mean?
Just curious, I’ve never seen the office of a MLB general manager.

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