Opening Day info: Street Fest, giveaways, fireworks, and more.

The Astros have spent about 36 hours in Houston in the last two months, but all of that is about to change with nice, long, 10-game homestand, beginning with their Opening Day on Friday.

Good seats are still available for the 6:05 p.m. CT game with the Florida Marlins. The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. outside of Minute Maid Park with the annual Street Fest, which will feature live music and appearances by several key Astros players and personnel.

The schedule:
12:30 p.m.: Drayton McLane, Ed Wade, Tal Smith and Brad Mills, joining host Milo Hamilton.
4:15 p.m.: Bill Hall, Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace, Angel Sanchez, joining host Brett Dolan.

Inside the ballpark, the pregame ceremonies will include recognition of the men and women from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, who will present the United States Flag. The flyover will be conducted by Commemorative Air Force Gulf Coast Wing B-17G Texas Raiders, while the Color Guard will be from the United States Army.

The national anthem will be performed by 15-year-old aspiring country singer Mary Sarah, a native of Sugar Land. God Bless America will be performed by country music star Jack Ingram.

The first 40,000 fans to the game will receive schedule magnets from United Airlines. Following the game, the Astros will host Friday Night Fireworks (weather permitting), provided by Marathon Oil Corporation.

Opening weekend will also feature FanFest on Saturday and Sunday. Those details can be found here.

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I’m not really savvy when it comes to understanding wireless technology, but here’s what I gleaned from the recent announcement that the Astros and AT&T upgraded the service at Minute Maid Park — connectivity at our baseball home, which was pretty decent in the past, is about to get a whole lot better.

They’ve expanded broadband connectivity with a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Wi-Fi. This is part of AT&T and the Astros’ ongoing efforts to support growing demand for advanced wireless devices and services and is designed to enrich baseball fans’ wireless experience whether they are checking scores, updating social networking sites, or uploading photos to friends while cheering in the stands.

(Or tweeting me).

Inside the venue, there are 225 access points to cover 40,950 seats, concession stands and concourse areas. Minute Maid Park visitors with a Wi-Fi-enabled AT&T smartphone can easily connect to the  AT&T Wi-Fi network without any setup or log in required, through an auto-authentication process.

After 44 days in Wi-Fi challenged Kissimmee and another three in downtown Cincinnati — where cell phone reception apparently goes to die — let me just say, it’ll be nice to be home, and even nicer to stay there for a while.

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If you could sample beer and watch baseball in order to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, would you?

On April 16, the Astros invite you to enjoy a night of Astros baseball while sampling a variety of import and domestic beers in Champions Pavilion. Tickets for this event will include One Mezzanine Ticket, eight, 3-ounce beer samples, a ballpark meal (hot dog and bag of chips), meet and greet with Jimmy Wynn from 5:30 to 6:30 and a chance to bid on exclusive Astros memorabilia in a silent auction. Cost: $40.  A portion of all proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. To order tickets, call Richard Tapia at 713-259-8303 or email rtapia@astros.com.

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Random notes:

*You may remember Sean Casey, the now-retired first baseman who played for the Reds, Pirates, Tigers and Red Sox over a 12-year career that ended in ’08. Casey is now a part-time television analyst for Fox Sports Ohio as well as a regular on MLB Network, and he was in Cincinnati for all three games between the Astros and Reds this week.

Casey had a chance to catch up with Mills, who was bench coach for the Red Sox during Casey’s short stint in Boston. Unsolicited, Casey offered this take: of all of the people he worked with in his career, no one had a better feel for, or understanding of, the game of baseball than Mills.

* The pitching matchups for the upcoming Marlins series are:
Fri: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, 15.75) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 2.57) (FS Houston)
Sat: RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 11.25) vs. RHP Javier Vazquez (0-1, 15.43) (FS Houston)
Sun: LHP J.A. Happ (0-1, 15.75) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 3.18) (FS Houston)

* FS Houston did not broadcast Thursday’s series finale in Cincinnati, leaving a lot of you to ask: what did Jim Deshaies and Bill Brown do during the game?

Answer: They hung out in the TV booth with the rest of the crew, surfed the ‘net and took in a ballgame. Here’s proof:

Left to right: lead producer Wave Robinson, Brownie, Greg Lucas, J.D., graphics producer Mike Uguccioni and associate producer Jerry Blancas

8 Comments

OH LORD!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! We WIN
our FIRST GAME of 2011!!!!!! Happy dance at my house!!
Becky :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

At mine too!

I will see you on Friday, one week after a Heart operation and I will be there for another opening day, I never miss it! I don’t know how many opening days this will make but its tradition to be there.

I am a transplanted Texan, living in Vero Beach, Florida for the past 10 years. I have been an Astro fan from day one. I was at the Dome when Mickey Mantle hit the first home run. Remember paying $5.00 for the entire family, 4 boys and me and my wife sitting in the out field. Tickets sold for $1.50 adults, 50 cents for kids. At that time you could bring picnic lunches into the statium and sit underneath the stands that had picnic tables. Great fun for the kids. Watch Astro’s everyday on Satalite dish.
Happy they finally got their first win today Still think, once the young kids learn to hit, we will have a good team.

What is up with Deshaies wearing a tie when he’s not on TV? Did they deke him about the non-broadcast or something??

At long last a w for the home team. Hope this keeps up.

Pat…it was a travel day, and while ties aren’t required, many in the traveling party wear them on what we call “getaway days.”

Gino, good for you!!! Glad you are doing well enough to make it. Can’t monkey with tradition!

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