The day after meeting Texas State University assistant coach, Jeremy Fikac, I headed to Round Rock, Tx to attend the Astros luncheon there. The event was emceed by the venerable Milo Hamilton. Nolan Ryan’s son and Round Rock Express owner, Reid Ryan, came by my table and talked to everyone there like we were old friends. He even gave us advice on how to run into his dad at Round Rock games, which could be very useful information.
During the program Milo invited the Swedish speaking Matt Lindstrom up to speak. Matt talked a little about learning Swedish during Christian missions trips to Sweden which I thought was cool. He was definitely more shy than the other guys, but saying someone is more shy than Bud Norris is like saying water is wetter than coal. It’s just not saying much. Bud Norris seemed like a really cool guy. General Manager, Ed Wade, apologized to us all for Norris’s shirt but assured the Round Rock fans that he would have plenty of time to make up for it next year when he’s back in Round Rock (or something like that). Hopefully that joke does not ever lose it’s humor by becoming reality. If it does, I hope I’m in Round Rock at the right time. Jim Deshaies was also interviewed by Milo but he’s so polished these days that it wasn’t quite as entertaining as when the current players were interviewed. Jeff Bagwell also showed a little polish, but it was really cool hearing from him. Surprisingly he said that he learned more about playing baseball at the Major League level from Casey Candaele than anyone else. Casey was an Astro when I was five years old and discovering baseball so I thought that was really cool to hear. I love hearing random tidbits about more obscure baseball players.
Ricky Bennett, Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development, also got up to speak. He was expecting to be interviewed by Milo like all the players were but Milo asserted that he never interviewed executives and let Ricky go it alone. After him was Ed Wade. It was really cool hearing about expectations of the 2010 Houston Astros from the GM himself. He informed us that he expects to see Tommy Manzella starting at shortstop for Houston come opening day and that several young pitchers who spent the majority of last year in Round Rock will have “every opportunity” in spring training to start the season in Houston.
Once all the speaking (and eating) was complete we got the opportunity to get items signed by the players. I got an 8×10 signed by Lindstrom which came out beautifully, and baseballs signed by Bagwell and Norris. It was a great opportunity and well worth the $40 admission. I only wish they did things like this more often.