Results tagged ‘ Alan Ashby ’
Who doesn’t love a good “Where Are They Now” story?
Under normal circumstances, finding out Where They Are Now takes quite a bit of digging. But for a few hours over the weekend, there was no need to search far and wide for such information on the 1986 National League West champion Houston Astros.
Where Are They Now? On Saturday, many of the ’86 Astros were all together, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the old Astrodome.
The annual TRISTAR Houston Collectors Show brought together 18 members of that ’86 team, a group that lives in Houston baseball history as one of the most beloved, ever. The characters of that team are as well-remembered as the heart-stopping moments that defined that season. TRISTAR hosted an ’86 Astros reunion as part of their two-day show at Reliant Arena, and also on the agenda was a reception that brought the team back together for a 90-minute question and answer session between paying patrons and the former Astros players.
The lot of 18 included manager Hal Lanier, Jose Cruz, Bill Doran, Jim Pankovits, Billy Hatcher, Nolan Ryan, Dickie Thon, Alan Ashby, Kevin Bass, Phil Garner, Bob Knepper, Glenn Davis, Danny Darwin, Jim Deshaies, Terry Puhl, Mike Scott, Jeff Calhoun and Craig Reynolds.
The group gathered in the lobby of the hotel before the formal program began, and like any class reunion, it was a happy scene. Many of the players from that team are still in baseball, and still more live in Houston. But in terms of getting together and catching up on old times, such occasions rarely, if ever, take place. That makes events like this special, and fun to watch from the sidelines. It also served as a nice precursor for the season-long celebration the Astros are planning to commemorate their 50th anniversary in 2012.
Emceed by SportsRadio 610’s Rich Lord, the Q&A session sparked laughter and reflection. Lanier was grilled on why he lifted Knepper from Game 6 of the NLCS, and Ryan, asked what his favorite moment was in his 27-year career, cited the 1969 World Series with the Mets, “Because it was the only time I played for a World Series title.”
The Astrodome, unsurprisingly, came up in conversation more than once. “I drove by the Dome today and thought, “Man. I wish there was something we could do to preserve it,” Doran said. “It’s a special place.”
The whereabouts of a few of the ’86 Astros are more well-known than others. Following a long run as a radio announcer for the Astros, Ashby moved on to work in the same capacity for the Blue Jays. Garner is mostly retired, but is working on a part-time basis with his original team, the Oakland A’s, and will be with them during Spring Training. Cruz is still with the Astros as a special assistant.
Hatcher and Doran are both with the Cincinnati Reds, Hatcher as a coach and Doran as a special assistant. Pankovits managed the Astros’ Short Season A TriCity team to a New York-Penn League championship in 2010 and is now a coach in the Mariners’ system. Davis is active in the hotel business and children’s ministries in Georgia, and Puhl is a local businessman and baseball coach for the University of Houston-Victoria. Bass is also locally based, working in real estate. Thon coaches in Puerto Rico; Lanier does the same in the Independent Leagues. Reynolds is a pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston.
And Ryan? “I’m just out signing Japanese ballplayers,” the Rangers owner said to a chorus of laughs.
Scott? “I travel, golf, and babysit my granddaughter.”
Deshaies: “I say clever things like, ‘That’s right, Brownie,’ and dream of being like Mike Scott.”
Simply put, this was a great night.
Being a baseball history fanatic, I’m glad this season will be one of those milestone years for the Astros. Season-long celebrations keep things interesting, and they bring back a lot of the old players, either in person or in the form of cool promotional giveaways.
The Astros are celebrating their 45th birthday this year, and you can expect a lot of fun days at Minute Maid Park that will include a reintroduction of players from the past and a few turn-back-the-clock activities.
I was 11 years away from arriving to my adopted hometown of Houston in ’86 when Mike Scott threw his division-clinching no-hitter, but I’ve heard so many accounts of that game from people who were there — Jim Deshaies, Milo Hamilton, Bill Brown, Larry Dierker, and on and on — that I almost feel like I do remember it, even though I wasn’t there, wasn’t listening on the radio and didn’t even read about it in the paper the next day.
The first (and only) time I met Scott was in ’04 when he flew to Houston from California to participate in some of the All-Star festivities at the convention center and the ballpark. He was exactly how J.D. described him — laid-back, California-cool, wearing flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt and a half-grin that gave the vibe of someone who enjoys the occasional appearance asked of former players by their former teams, but also of someone who’s happily enjoying retirement, away from the game.
(Side note — In the media dining room at Shea Stadium many years ago, Keith Hernandez, now a Mets broadcaster, spotted Alan Ashby, then an Astros broadcaster, and said, “Come on, Ash, just fess up. Scotty was scuffing the ball, wasn’t he?” Ashby chuckled, but said nothing. J.D., sitting nearby, cracked up.)
Scott will be one of several past Astros legends immortalized in Bobbleland when his likeness will be handed out to the first 10,000 lucky fans on July 10. Other nostalgic bobbleheads on the docket: Jose Cruuuuuuuz (April 24), Jimmy Wynn (June 5) and Nolan Ryan (June 19).
On May 22, the Astros will give away a bobblehead featuring modern-day fan favorite and Gold Glover Michael Bourn.
A sampling of this season’s promotional items was revealed on Monday, when the Astros announced that regular-season individual tickets will go on sale Friday, Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. CT. The first of seven giveaways in April arrives on Opening Day (April 5), with a schedule magnet going to the first 40,000 fans.
The 45th Anniversary celebration begins April 9, when a special, 45th Anniversary Astros cap will be handed out to the first 10,000 fans. The next night (April 10), the first 10,000 fans will receive a commemorative 1965 Astros jersey.
In May, the Astros again will be helping to create awareness about Breast Cancer with a week-long ‘Pink In The Park‘ promotion, which will include a pink cap for the first 10,000 fans on May 7 and a Pink Tote Bag for the first 10,000 fans on May 8 (Mother’s Day). A trendy, Astros laptop computer sleeve will be given for the first time to the first 10,000 fans on May 20.
On Father’s Day (June 20), the first 10,000 men age 15 and older will receive an Astros necktie. On July 28, the Astros will continue in the celebration of the 45th Anniversary with an orange retro cap giveaway for the first 10,000 fans. On August 15, the first 10,000 kids aged 14 and under will receive a school backpack designed with the look of a catcher’s chest protector.
Friday Night Fireworks also return in 2010 as each Friday night home game will be followed by a fireworks display (weather permitting). A full listing of the Astros 2010 promotional schedule will be available online at astros.com when regular season tickets go on sale Friday, and, of course, additional promotional items will be added to the schedule throughout the season.
*On Feb. 18, all registered users of astros.com will have the opportunity to also purchase individual game tickets online. There is still time for fans to purchase season tickets or register on the website to take advantage of this limited opportunity.
* For the past several seasons, Opening Day has been a quick sellout, and this season figures to be no different. To guarantee a seat for Opening Day right now, fans can purchase a full-season ticket package or the Opening Day 14-Game Flex Plan, which includes tickets to the home opener and home finale as well as 12 games of the purchaser’s choosing, plus an additional bonus game for free. Opening Day tickets can also be purchased now through either the Hunter’s Lodge or All You Can Eat 6-Game Flex Plans.
* Every Sunday home game is a Price Matters Day, where fans can purchase a View Deck II ticket, hot dog, chips and soda for just $10. The All You Can Eat promotion, which has been expanded to include all home games, gives fan the opportunity to enjoy all of their favorite ballpark fare for just $25 per ticket. The You Pick’Em 6-Game Plan, which starts as low as $42 and gives the fans their choice of games (excluding Opening Day), is one of several reasonably-priced flex plans available.
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