Sean Pendergast

Houston Sports World Mourns Loss of Barbara Bush (1925-2018)

There was no better friend to Houston sports than former First Lady Barbara Bush
There was no better friend to Houston sports than former First Lady Barbara Bush Eric Sauseda
In the world we live in now, where it feels like politics is shrouded in a distinct "you're either with us or against us" vibe, where bipartisanship is pretty much out the window, it's hard to find people tied to politics where everyone seems to agree that "Hey, he or she is/was a pretty cool person." Barbara Bush, though, was one of those rare people. Everyone loved Barbara Bush.

Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, and the outpouring of condolences and memories from people crossed over every cultural line — Republican and Democrat, black and white, famous and ordinary, young and old. Barbara Bush was universally beloved, and perhaps my favorite story was the fact that she was sipping bourbon while taking phone calls from friends on Monday. A bad ass to the very end.

As personal endeavors go, Barbara Bush will probably be most tied to her promotion and charitable efforts for literacy, but she has distinct ties to the sports world, Houston in particular, that are undeniable. That much was evident in the condolences expressed by the major sports teams in town on Tuesday evening:

When it comes to specific links between Barbara Bush and the Houston sports world, in recent years, people will likely think of two things. First, the Bushes have been fixtures at Astros games, for years, behind home plate, and Barbara Bush actually kept score at games, which is about as hardcore as it gets. As you can see from a tweet by my friend Wallis Marsh, she was keeping score right up through the final Astros game she attended in person, Game 5 of the World Series:
Honestly, given the stature of the scorekeeper herself, and the magnitude of the game (greatest game in Astros history?), finding First Lady Bush's scorecard from the Astros' 13-12 extra inning thriller would be incredible.

Next, the Bushes are also big football fans. How big? Well, in the "hardcore as it gets" for the football category, George and Barbara Bush actually attended Johnny Manziel's Pro Day in College Station back in 2014! More recently, the former first couple were presented before Super Bowl 51 so that the former president could toss the coin.

Locally, Barbara Bush formed a bond with J.J. Watt over the last few years that was clearly very meaningful to Watt and the Texans. The former First Lady and the Texans' All-Pro defensive end took part in several endeavors together, which Watt captured in this tweet on Tuesday night:

In one of the great visuals from an awesome charity event, here is Barbara Bush throwing out the first pitch at J.J. Watt's charity softball game, one of many first pitches which she threw, including several Astros games:

Barbara Bush's funeral will be held on Saturday at St. Martin's Church here in Houston, and, according to her wishes, it will be a very simple service with a private burial. However, members of the public will be able to pay their respects during visitation to Bush in repose on Friday, also at St. Martin's.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast