Was that Miss Piggy and Super Mario walking the streets of Chicago? Nah. Those were your Houston Astros.
The purpose of the Rookie Road Trip, historically, is to dress up the rookies in crazy outfits and properly humiliate them with as many people watching as possible. The Astros’ travel schedule prevented them from adequately executing the second part, because the flight out of Phoenix put them at the Chicago hotel around 11 p.m. Sunday night — too late for many passers-by to really catch the rookies in all of their costumed glory.
So the veteran players came up with a much better idea: dress them in the crazy outfits after the day game at Wrigley Field on Monday, send them to a rather populated area outside of the ballpark postgame to sign autographs, and drop them off a few blocks from hotel — in the heart of downtown Chicago — and let them hoof it back to team headquarters in full fancy gear.
The final product was spectacular. Thanks to the rookies, who embraced the assignment with a good-natured approach that made the entire process what it’s supposed to be, the 2010 Astros Rookie Road Trip was funny to all involved. Chris Johnson (pictured above, with Jason Castro), led the group, walking to the platform outside of Wrigley Field, arms opened, before posing for a myriad of photos while signing autographs. When the bus dropped the rookies off a few blocks from the hotel, nearly the entire team filed off — rookies and non-rookies — and what was intended as a simple three-block walk to the hotel turned into a parade on and around the famed Magnificent Mile that lasted at least 20 minutes.
Kudos to the Astros rookies for not taking themselves too seriously and making this time-honored tradition what it’s supposed to be — fun, and an exercise in team unity.
Good for them, and good for you, Astros fans, because this is one group you might want to keep an eye on moving forward. They’re happy to be here, and they’re having one heck of a good time wearing the Houston uniform (and other stuff too. Proof below).
This is one of those photos that you refer back to whenever you’re having a bad day. Awesome.
Chris Johnson, signing autographs on a plaza outside Wrigley Field. In Major League Baseball, you have two types of players: those who get it, and those who don’t. CJ gets it. He can do two things at once: work hard at his craft, and laugh at himself. Good for him.
Two Brians, Esposito and Bogusevic, sign autographs at Wrigley. The bus was parked 10 feet away where the entire front office contingent was looking on with amusement. Good times.
Tommy Manzella, Brett Wallce.
Fernando Abad, Henry Villar. For the record, Villar was the first to put his costume on in the clubhouse and he made sure the stomach was in just the right spot. They were pretending to be serious for this photo, but they were among the most animated throughout the field trip.
To illustrate the history of this time-honored tradition, here are the two oldest photos I have of Rookie Road Trips:
2001…the most recognizable rookies are Roy Oswalt, front and center, and Adam Everett, far right. You’ll also spot Carlos Hernandez, Ricky Stone, Tim Redding and Scott Linebrink.
Morgan Ensberg, circa 2000.
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