Sharp-Dressed Fans

Billy Gibbons and other Houstonians share their favorite Astros memories.

Quite a history for what was to become Space City. And all well remembered with a broadcasting bark by announcer Loel Passe, later joined by an enthusiastic Dan Rather, backed by none other than my Dad, Freddie Gibbons, and Ms. Lou Mahan on twin Hammond organs lending to the sporting sounds still resounding today in ballparks, coast-to-coast. Again, "play ball!"...!

1960 saw R.E. "Bob" Smith, the oilman wildcatter, and former Mayor of Houston Judge Roy Hofheinz, the ruff-'n'-tuff cowboy, form the Houston Sports Association, which later secured the bona fide, big league franchise for Houston. Yes, indeed, The Colt .45s were ready to "play ball!" Colt Stadium, a temporary facility for the '62, '63 and '64 seasons.

Fast-forward to the imaginative vision with an archetypal architectural challenge which again would place Houston back in the spotlight with the creation crowned "The Houston Astrodome," which brought change to the Colt .45s handle with a new team name known since as "The Astros," who really stepped up to the plate!

Sheriff Adrian Garcia, former Astros Buddy, used to bike through downtown as a kid to get to the Dome.
Chris Curry
Sheriff Adrian Garcia, former Astros Buddy, used to bike through downtown as a kid to get to the Dome.
County Judge Ed Emmett watched Mike Scott's pennant-clinching no-hitter in an airport bar.
Chris Curry
County Judge Ed Emmett watched Mike Scott's pennant-clinching no-hitter in an airport bar.

(Side note: ZZ Top, Astros fans extraordinaire, performed in the 'Dome at the world-­famous Houston Rodeo for closing night in that fabled facility back in '02. Quite an honor!)

During a game between the Astros and Dodgers, I shared a box directly behind home base on reserve with some fine fellow Houstonians: team honcho Mr. Drayton McLane, car-collecting aficionados J.P. Shellnutt and Galen Medlenka, along with the fantastically fetching Farrah Fawcett and her Dad, Jimbo. We were attempting to decide which dugout to lean toward; as we were guests of both outfits, we all agreed the excitement was simply that real ballgame feeling, through-and-through. We nodded in agreement with a shout, "Play Ball...!"

Mark Griffith
Houston Symphony Percussionist

My wife and I bought tickets to see Game 5 of the National League Division Series in 2005 against the Atlanta Braves. Of course, this was the year the Astros would eventually find themselves in the World Series, helped greatly by the pitching trio of Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens. The Houston Symphony had a concert scheduled that afternoon, and we knew we wouldn't be able to stay until the end of the game, but we bought the tickets and went anyway.

It was our first playoff game, and we weren't disappointed. Inside Minute Maid Park, with the roof closed — the playoff atmosphere was electric. After early scores by the Braves, the game seemed out of reach until Lance Berkman launched a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was hard to do, but at that point we had to leave so I could play in the afternoon concert. The symphony's stagehands often have the games playing on a backstage radio or on the Internet. By the time I got to the hall and had my instrument set up, I had learned that Brad Ausmus tied the game with a dramatic 9th-inning home run.

The music started, and I enjoyed performing one of my favorite pieces of music, Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. As soon as the music ended, the stage manager greeted me at the door, exclaiming, "They're still playing, they're still playing! And Roger Clemens just came on to pitch!"

My wife had since gone home, so I grabbed one of the other percussionists, and we started running the nine blocks from Jones Hall to Minute Maid Park. I had not scanned the tickets exiting from the park, so we had to plead a little with the ticket lady, but she eventually let us in. The concert attire probably helped.

We made our way to the upper deck, near home plate, and found Clemens on the mound wrapping up the top of the 16th inning. We enjoyed a few more nail-biting innings before the Astros took the field in the 18th inning, now participating in the longest postseason game in MLB history. Roger Clemens was up first and struck out. With one out, the young, likable Chris Burke came to the plate.

The first pitch was a ball, and so was the second. Burke hit the third pitch hard, landing it comfortably in the Crawford Boxes — a game-winning, series-winning home run! At that moment, I experienced a level of mass excitement like nothing I had ever seen or heard. It was nothing short of spectacular.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia

Some of my fondest memories of the Astros have to do with when I was a proud "Astros Buddy!" A neighborhood friend, Anthony, and I signed up to become members of the club and were so excited when we received our membership packets that included several tickets to see games, attend baseball clinics and have entry to the arcade at the Astrodome.

I remember studying the bus routes to find out what buses we needed to take to get to the Astrodome from Houston's near northside, which was quite an adventure for a couple young guys like us. When riding the bus became old hat, we started to learn how to get there on our bikes, which was the adventure of a lifetime given that the ride took us through good old downtown. The rides and memories through downtown would later serve me well as a Houston City Council member and showed why we needed to support the continued revitalization of the core of our city.

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