An A-list lineup of past Astros stars turn out to honor a true original.
Working for one company for 32 years is no small feat, but to be in one spot for so long and be loved by just about everyone you worked with should come with some sort of badge of honor.
That’s how it is for Dennis Liborio, the Astros’ longtime clubhouse manager who retired from his post with the Astros several weeks ago. It was a sad goodbye for generations of colleagues, but the party celebrating his colorful career was in no short supply of laughter, friendship and, as an added bonus, star power.
On Monday, dozens of players whom Liborio looked after during his three-plus decades of service as the all-knowing “key master” of the Astros inner-world flocked to Damian’s Cucina Italiana to pay tribute. The soiree, organized by Astros travel chief Barry Waters and hosted by Frankie Mandola, Dan and Susan Sessions and many friends from the Texas Italian American Sports Foundation, featured an A-list guest list rife with stars from nearly every decade of Astros baseball.
Nolan Ryan, Art Howe, Larry Andersen, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Phil Garner, Jose Cruz, Charley Kerfeld, John Hudek, Mike Hampton, Woody Williams, Bob Aspromonte, Enos Cabell, and on and on. The broadcasting side was represented by television announcers Bill Brown, who emceed the event, and Jim Deshaies, also a Dennis favorite from the mid-80s Astros. A slew of executives past and present were also peppered in the crowd, including Gerry Hunsicker and Tal Smith. Even one umpire — Joe West — joined the party.
It was like a class reunion, only with much cooler people.
The tributes and stories flowed freely from the crowd of nearly 120, as the did the vino, compliments of Firriato Sicilian Wines. Donations were welcome, with proceeds going to the newly-named Dennis Liborio Texas Italian American Sports Foundation Scholarship. The Astros kicked in $5,000 as a tribute to their long-time employee.