Astros notes: Bud, C.J., Astroline, College Classic and an appearance by the ’86 Astros.

We still have a month or so before Spring Training, but that doesn’t mean your Astros have gone into hibernation until it’s time to head to Florida. In fact, this week will feature two appearances by Astros players, one online and one in person.

Starting pitcher Bud Norris will participate in an online chat with fans on Wednesday, Jan. 11 beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The chat, which will last approximately 30 minutes, can be accessed here. You must be a registered member in order to ask a question.

On Thursday, third baseman Chris Johnson will be Milo Hamilton’s guest on Astroline, beginning at 7 p.m. The show airs live on 740 KTRH and Astros.com and will take place at Buffalo Wild Wings on Gray St. in Midtown. C.J. is planning to bring some autographed items to hand out as well to the folks in attendance at the venue.

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The Houston College Classic will take place at Minute Maid Park March 2-4. Details and ticket information will be released soon, but in the meantime, here is the schedule and participating colleges:

Friday, March 2, 2012
Noon           Texas Tech at Arkansas
3:30 p.m.  Tennessee at Houston
7:00 p.m.  Texas at Rice

Saturday, March 3, 2012
Noon            Arkansas at Houston
3:30 p.m.    Texas at Tennessee
7:00 p.m.    Texas Tech at Rice

Sunday, March 4, 2012
11:00 a.m.    Arkansas at Texas
2:30 p.m.      Houston at Texas Tech
6:00 p.m.      Rice at Tennessee

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Tickets are still available for the 2012 Houston Baseball Dinner Benefiting Grand Slam For Youth Baseball’s Scholarship Program, which will include a special celebration of the Astros’ 50th Anniversary.

2012 will mark the 27th season of the popular dinner, which will take place on Friday, February 10 at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston.  The event is sponsored by the Astros In Action Foundation and Minute Maid, with proceeds benefiting the Grand Slam For Youth Baseball Scholarship Program.

In addition to honoring the top players from the 2011 ballclub, this year’s dinner will include a special 50th Anniversary tribute featuring Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton and a long list of former Astros team MVPs, including Bob Watson, J.R. Richard, Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz, Enos Cabell, Bob Aspromonte and more.  Phil Garner, manager of the 2005 NL Champion Astros, will also be in attendance. Members of the 2011 Astros scheduled to attend include J.D. Martinez (Rookie of the Year), Wandy Rodriguez (Pitcher of the Year) and Jason Bourgeois (Darryl Kile Award) and manager Brad Mills.  Former Astros Hunter Pence (2011 MVP) and Lance Berkman (Houston Area Player of the Year) will also be recognized at the event, but are unable to attend.

Additionally, longtime Astros television broadcaster Bill Brown will receive the Fred Hartman Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Baseball. 2011 marked Brown’s 25th season as the Astros play-by-play TV voice.

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, a special VIP reception will be held prior to the dinner, at 6 p.m., and will feature several of the former MVPs and current Astros players. A limited amount of MVP tables for 10 that will include tickets to the dinner and the VIP reception will be available for purchase for $2,500.

Dinner attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on several attractive items at a silent auction, with those proceeds also going to the GSFYB Scholarship Program.

 Tickets for the dinner are priced at $100 each or at $1,000 for a table of 10, and can be purchased online at www.astros.com/baseballdinner or by calling Jo Russell at 713-789-0626. General information on the dinner is available at www.gsfyb.org, via email at info@gsfyb.org or by calling 713-259-8686.

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Speaking of former Astros stars, a large number of members of the 1986 Astros will be appearing at Reliant Arena for the TRISTAR Houston Collector’s Show Jan. 20-22.

Among the familiar faces slated to appear: Nolan Ryan, Kevin Bass, Alan Ashby, Phil Garner, Jose Cruz, Danny Darwin, Hal Lanier, Mike Scott, Glenn Davis, Billy Hatcher, Bill Doran, Jim Deshaies, Dickie Thon, Terry Puhl and Bob Knepper.

TRISTAR also offers the opportunity to attend a VIP reception for the ’86 Astros reunion.

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