Go Astros! The class of 1974 is gettin’ behind ya!

Published 7:01 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

Believe it or not at the time of this writing, my Astros are down two games to none in the World Series, and I’m still emotionally able to write. I asked if I could just take the week off due to undue distress, and he shrugged and said, “Just rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine.”

Truth is, I’ve been planning to sit down with you and talk about these Astros since before the World Series started – about the time 5’6” Jose Altuve yanked the Yankees heart out with his bottom-of-the-9th blast to left-center in Game 6. So, after I went outside and rubbed that little dirt on it this morning, I set out to write.

Strangely, perhaps, I’ve also been thinking about all my old LaGrange High classmates lately, too. I know, that’s an unusual mixture – the World Series and your old classmates – but I can get pretty nostalgic sometimes. Wait to see what you read if my team falls to 0-3.

But I’ve wondered how many championships my classmates of 1974 have won. Little League, band, doesn’t matter. I’m hoping they have enjoyed a few.

It would mean a lot to me if they have. I haven’t set the world on fire, but I’ve been blessed to win a few. As a coach, my team has been the last one standing for dozens of high school basketball tournaments through the years. Even bigger, in 1991, I sat alongside my good friend Randy Weisinger at the Texas state tournament. We had just won the regional championship in Houston, and we made it to the state semis before succumbing to Greg Ostertag and Duncanville.

But a little later in the 90s, my son Mal won two state championships at Robinson High School as a member of the Rockets marching band. Those were some hand-wringing moments equal to any game I coached, I promise.

My pro teams’ championships comprise a very short list: The 1993-94 and 1994-95 Houston Rockets and the 2017 Astros are the only teams on the list.

Three championships in 44 years for your favorite diehard Houston fan, but that’s better than none.

It’s funny how I became a Houston fan. For some reason, I didn’t hang onto the Atlanta teams after I left town in autumn of 1973. Nor (thankfully) did I become a Dallas fan after coming to Texas and living the first year and a half in Dallas.

With all my family and buddies big Cowboys fans – and, to a lesser degree, fans of the Rangers and Mavericks – I never took to Dallas.

But as soon as the amazin’ blonde lured me to Houston in 1975, I immediately became a Houston fan – Oilers, Rockets, and Astros. My family ­— especially my daughter Rachel – shares that enthusiasm to this day. Rach and I hit a few Rockets and Astros games every year, even though we can’t really afford it. I paid $40 for parking a couple of weeks ago at an Astros game. It’s hard to rub dirt on that, I can tell you.

My Phi Slama Jama Houston Cougars couldn’t win the national title, even though they had the best basketball team in the country in 1983. It was Jim Valvano and NC State who yanked their heart and mine out that year. That particularly hurt, because I walked the halls with the Cougars’ Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olijawon back then.

My Oilers of the late 70s couldn’t win one either, and now they are gone. But Love-Ya-Blue mania, Earl Campbell, and Bum Philips are not forgotten. The Texans are fine, but they’re not the Oilers.

As I think on it, I did win another Houston championship of sorts. In 1975, I won the heart of the prettiest girl on either side of the Mississippi. Took that championship without a shot being fired. We married on Oct. 24 — 44 years ago as I write today. By the way, Astros phenom slugger Yordan Alvarez — called “Air Yordan” because it rhymes with “Jordan” — wears #44. That could be a good sign from Game 3 on.

And all of that brings me back around to the Astros and my 1974 classmates. I’m enlisting all of those ladies and fellas who shared that noteworthy 1974 stage to step out with me on baseball’s biggest stage and become Astros fans right now. Jump right on in there, and we’ll win a World Series title together. Being down oh-two isn’t anything we can’t handle.

After all, we’ve survived 44 years after high school — plus one — and the amazin’ blonde survived 44 years with a difficult LaGrange Granger.

Shoot, winning this World Series will be a cakewalk for high-steppers like us. Let’s do this. Go Astros! You gotta! I don’t have any more dirt to rub on it.