All dressed up, no place to go.
We were headed to the airport around 4 p.m. on Monday when we received word that our flight to Waco was called off.
A small contigent of Astros representatives was planning to attend Monday night’s Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Waco, where two Astros — first baseman Lance Berkman and Triple-A pitching coach Burt Hooton — were among 10 honorees who make up the class of 2010.
Bad weather — rain and high winds — changed our plans. We were going to fly up on Drayton’s seven-seater plane, but his pilot thought better of it after assessing the weather conditions.
Apparently, Drayton’s pilot will fly in just about anything, but even he was not comfortable with making the Houston-Waco trip that night. Although I’m disappointed to not be going, my stomach is turning just imagining what a bumpy ride that would have been.
Anyhoo, congratulations to the Big Puma and to Hooton, who was 35-3 with a 1.14 ERA for the University of Texas before winning 151 games in the big leagues.
Puma, as most of us know, is a five-time All-Star with 313 home runs in his career with the Astros. He’s a native of Waco and a graduate of New Braunfels Canyon High School.
During his three-year baseball career at Rice University (1995-97), Berkman earned first-team All-America honors and in 1997 was named the National College Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
He also turns 34 on Wednesday…
I won’t have any pictures from Monday’s ceremony, obviously, but the canceled trip opens up the perfect opportunity to post some pictures from the “Rain or Shine: How Houston Developed Space City Baseball” exhibit currently on display at the Heritage Society of Houston.
I stopped by the exhibit the night it opened and found it absolutely delightful. On display are memorabilia from every era of Houston baseball, including the years of the Minor League Buffs to the original Colt .45s to the Astros.
I am not originally from here, but I find the history of Houston baseball fascinating. When we closed down the Astrodome in 1999 we immersed ourselves in a season-long historical celebration of the 35 years in the Dome, and from Bob Aspromonte to Jimmy Wynn to Nolan Ryan to Cesar Cedeno to Jose Cruz to Mike Scott to Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, I felt like I came to know dozens of characters and personalities that helped define what this franchise means to this city.
On a recent caravan trip, I told Jim Deshaies that if I could go back in time and join one team in Astros history that I missed (I got here in 1997), it would be the 1986 Astros. These days, you’ll see a bunch of players from that era around the game — Charley Kerfeld, Larry Andersen, Alan Ashby, Billy Hatcher — and I can only imagine just how much fun it was to be around that club. What a year, too: they first hosted the All-Star Game, then clinched the division on a Mike Scott no-hitter before playing some of the most exciting postseason games in team history.
The Heritage Society exhibit, located at 1100 Bagby (near the Hobby Center), offers a nice variety of artifacts to capture a half-century of baseball in Houston, highlighting every era. It’ll be there until April 4, and admission is free. Here’s a sneak peek:
The exhibit contains one jersey from every year of baseball in Houston.
The helmet Chris Burke wore when he hit his game-winning homer in the 18th inning of the NLDS in 2005, and the helmet Brad Ausmus wore when he set an Astros record for games caught.
Seats from the Astrodome.
This is the suit and the hat former announcer Gene Elston wore on road trips. Apparently, the entire team was required to wear matching suits, as you’ll see in the next picture.
I think I’d actually pay money to see Berkman and Michael Bourn wearing the same suit, just for laughs. But what really cracks me up about this picture, more than everyone being dressed alike, is that two of the players are holding guns as props. Let’s see…get off a plane, pull out your gun. Could anything sound more absurd these days?
This is a piece of the original scoreboard in the Astrodome. Apparently, the lights do indeed still blink.
This is a 1960s RCA Victor Radio that broadcasted the first game in the Astrodome on April 9, 1965. So cutting edge at the time. Nowadays, you can get any Major League game on any night by simply having the right app on your iphone. (Sigh. I still remember when “apps” meant “appetizers.”)
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