Houston Astros' Home Opener Provides Closure for Harvey Stricken Residents
HOUSTON, TX—On Monday, April 2, the World Series Champion Houston Astros returned to Houston for their first official home game since the 10-inning slugfest that was game five of the World Series on October 29, 2017, which Houston won 13-12 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The return of the baseball to the Bayou City was not just about celebrating and remembering the first World Series win in the club’s now 56 year existence by (eventually) unveiling the 2017 World Series Champion pennant or handing out the World Series rings.
Yes, the championship victory was a tribute to the many before this group. It was a tribute to Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell along with Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt who were on the 2005 team that made it to the World Series. It was a tribute to Houston-native Nolan Ryan, whose son Reid is the President of the club. It was a win for the little guys like Jimmy “the Toy Cannon” Wynn. It was a tribute to everyone who attended a game in the Astrodome.
But more so, this was a tribute for the City of Houston. This was a win for the Texas coastline reeling from Hurricane Harvey and for those reeling after the most devastating flooding event to ever occur in the fourth-largest city in the United States. That was evident with the “Houston Strong” patch the team wore from August through the end of the 2017 season to commemorate the people affected by Harvey.
Houston has begun the rebuilding process and, for the most part, things have returned to normal. But there are still houses without carpet, drywall and sheetrock.
The Astros, for 17 games in October, and one in November, gave the entire Texas coastline a break from the cavalcade of devastation left in Harvey’s wake.
As a native Houstonian, I know this feeling first-hand. Harvey left my childhood home and my grandmother’s house flooded.
During the cleanup, my father suffered some medical setbacks that left him hospitalized for over a month. The doctors didn’t want him watching the games because they weren’t sure how his body would react to the stress the Astros would put on the man who had seen everything in the club’s 56 years.
I remember being at my childhood house in the town of Crosby, 20 minutes northeast of Houston proper, for game five. No drywall, no sheetrock, no carpet; just a TV remained in our living room. Los Angeles ties the game at 12 in the top of the ninth. Rather than thinking, “Here we go again,” Houstonians continued to believe. Alex Bregman lined an RBI double to left-center field to score Derek Fisher, who pinch ran for Brian McCann once he reached second on a walk.
Game seven rolled around on November 1, 2017. I went to a local watering hole in San Angelo with my best friend from my hometown. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Los Angeles’ Corey Seager grounded the ball to Jose Altuve playing in short right field in the shift. Altuve tossed it to Yuli Gurriel at first base and 56 years of misery and coming up short were forgotten.
I called my dad at that moment. While he couldn’t really talk, he knew exactly what had happened. Tears were shed and cheers were had on both ends of the phone. That same sentiment was echoed across the nearly-12,000 square miles which the Greater Houston area stretches.
Fast forward to Minute Maid Park this past Monday and Tuesday. A sellout crowd filed into the stadium to take in the 2017 World Series Championship pennant being unveiled and the home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. The same attendance followed on Tuesday for second home game and the ring ceremony.
Minute Maid Park holds a capacity just north of 43,000 people. On April 2, Minute Maid Park was filled with roughly 43,000 people who wanted to say thanks to the home team that gave the metropolis of 6,490,180 people hope in some of their darkest hours. The stadium was filled with people ready for closure and ready to turn the page from 2017.
The Astros won their first two home games, as well, and are 5-1 on the young season.