Tri-City ValleyCats relive 2010 and get their rings.

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If the season the Tri-City ValleyCats had in 2010 is a foreshadow of things to come in Houston, more fruitful times are ahead of the Astros, at many levels of the organization.

Maybe the Short-Season A ValleyCats’ New York-Penn League championship title received minimal fanfare while the Astros were wrapping up their season last September. But their accomplishments were well-documented within the organization, and celebrated Tuesday night at the Astros’ Minor League complex in Kissimmee.

In the Major Leagues, it’s customary to hold a ring ceremony for a League and/or World Series championship early the next season. But in the Minor Leagues, most of the players who comprised a championship roster for one club have moved to a new team, and new city, the next year. Instead, the logical time to celebrate a title is during Spring Training, when the players are all together, regardless of where they might end up on opening day.

By all accounts, this ceremony had perfect attendance. Nearly every player from last year’s Tri-City team was there, in addition to the ValleyCats front office, the entire Astros’ Minor League staff and most of the Major League front office — around 120 total.

(Watch video from the banquet here)

“What you guys accomplished was really special,” said Fred Nelson, the Astros’ Director of Player Development, during his opening remarks to the players. “We don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now, or maybe two or three years from now in your life. But the ring you’re going to be getting tonight cannot be taken away from you.”

Added general manager Ed Wade: “Everybody in the office in Houston, everybody connected to player development, was paying a lot of attention to what you guys were doing in Tri-City. It hasn’t happened a lot in this organization, but it’s going to happen a lot more often.”

The banquet included a video that showed the highs and lows of the regular season, the intensity of the playoffs and the euphoric celebration after the ValleyCats clinched the title. What really struck me while watching the video wasn’t so much the timely hits or great plays that led them to the title, but rather the collective laughter from the players in the room as they watched the footage of the celebratory pile on, the crazy dancing and yelling in the clubhouse and the time-honored tradition of dousing each other with bubbly beverages — in this case, sparkling cider.

While I’m sure it was a lot more fun for the players when they actually won the title, it was still highly entertaining for this outsider to watch them relive the moment.

(And the rings are gorgeous.)

Video images

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Ring ceremony: Jake Buchanan and ValleyCats Vice President/General Manager Rick Murphy.

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Ryan Cole

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Oscar Figueroa (with ValleyCats president Bill Gladstone in background)

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Telvin Nash

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Group shot…

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…holding up their rings.

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