Highlights from 2016 Astros Caravan and FanFest

Each January, as we come back from the holidays and start to look forward to spring, it’s time to start thinking Astros baseball. And what better way to kick off the excitement of the upcoming season than with the annual Astros Caravan and Astros FanFest? This annual celebration starts with a day of service in the Houston area and concludes with Astros FanFest at Minute Maid Park. During this special week, Astros players and fans gather for a chance to meet their favorite players and participate in Astros fun.

The 2016 Astros Caravan presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors featured Astros players, the Coca-Cola Shooting Stars, Orbit and team staff traveling to interact with our loyal fans throughout the state. This year’s Astros Caravan visited the great cities of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Galveston and areas around Houston including The Woodlands, Pasadena and Katy. Highlights from the week included a special trip to NASA, visits to local schools, serving food at Chick-Fil-A and Whataburger, interacting with fans at autograph sessions at Academy locations, and participating in our brand new Caravan Jams!  To see more photos from the 2016 Astros Caravan, please visit Astros.com/Caravan.


Colby Rasmus ready to take your order!

Following Astros Caravan, Astros fans gathered together for a one-of-a-kind event at Minute Maid Park to meet their favorite players and participate in a fun-filled day at Astros FanFest. This year’s Astros FanFest on January 23 brought a record crowd of over 11,000 fans. Despite the chilly weather (hey it’s Houston, we get cold easily!), fans flocked to Minute Maid Park to support their favorite team and celebrate the upcoming season. Fans took batting practice in the cages with Colby Rasmus, met mini-horses at the petting zoo in the Plaza, threw in the bullpen with Collin McHugh, took selfies with Orbit as part of the Selfie Scavenger Hunt, and even played ping pong with Jose Altuve!

Here’s a review of the highlights of Astros FanFest:


Every twenty minutes, Astros players rotated through the official FanFest photobooth presented by The Smile Generation to take funny photos with fans. Some lucky fans even go their photo with both Luis Valbuena and Lance McCullers!


Fans of all ages could create custom Astros Baseball cards in a new feature also presented by The Smile Generation.


At the expanded Social Media Zone, a few lucky fans played ping pong against Astros players, including Jose Altuve. Spoiler alert: Jose won.



Several Astros players – including Colby Rasmus – stopped by the Social Media Zone for Twitter Q&A’s throughout the day. We even had custom Fathead emojis for them to sign!


The free FanForum sessions throughout the day in the Diamond Club included the highly anticipated reveal of the new 2016 Astros alternate jersey and cap to be worn during Spring Training and Sunday home games.



Fans with select vouchers were able to meet four of their favorite players and get their autographs. Kids even had their very own free autograph sessions.



Players made surprise appearances throughout the day in different locations around the ballpark including the Astros dugout



FanFest wrapped up with what was surely the most entertaining Fan Forum of all-time when Evan Gattis, George Springer and Colby Rasmus discussed the clubhouse culture for the 2016 team

Thanks to everybody who came out for the 2016 Astros Caravan and Astros FanFest. We can’t wait to see you here at Minute Maid Park for the Astros Home Opener on April 11th against the Royals!

The Annual Sunshine Kids Holiday Party

Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio with a Sunshine Kids Family

Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio with a Sunshine Kids Family

Craig Biggio’s name will always be linked with two organizations – the Houston Astros and the Sunshine Kids. What’s the Sunshine Kids? It’s a wonderful nonprofit dedicated to helping children with cancer. The organization provides a variety of events and programs across the country, free of charge, to kids who are battling cancer. Biggio has supported The Sunshine Kids since the early days of his Hall of Fame career with the Astros and continues as a spokesman for the organization today.

Biggio and two Sunshine Kids in the holiday spirit!

Biggio and two Sunshine Kids in the holiday spirit!

Throughout the baseball season, the Astros host Sunshine Kids and their families for several meet-and-greets with players, volunteer at hospitals in Houston and after the season, Craig and his wife Patty host an annual baseball party on the field at Minute Maid Park.

Astros volunteers helped with making Santa hats

Astros volunteers helped with making Santa hats

Each year during the holiday season, Sunshine Kids and their families come to the Children’s Museum of Houston for the Annual Sunshine Kids Holiday Party. On December 11, the tradition continued with hundreds of Sunshine Kids joining the Biggios, Astros volunteers, the Astros’ mascot Orbit and Olaf from Frozen for a great night of arts and crafts, visits with Santa and the chance to explore the Children’s Museum.

Astros mascot Orbit and Olaf from Frozen delighted fans1

Astros mascot Orbit and Olaf from Frozen delighted fans1

The night gives the kids a chance to enjoy the holiday season and also provides the Biggio family with another opportunity to give back. Craig’s wife Patty and two of their children, Conor and Quinn, joined the celebration.

Patty Biggio with Sunshine Kid Jay Garza and his mother

Patty Biggio with Sunshine Kid Jay Garza and his mother

“My dad’s been a part of this basically since he started playing,” Conor said. “It’s part of our family. This is such an awesome event seeing all of these kids having fun and loving life.”

Biggio and Sunshine Kids family

Biggio and Sunshine Kids family

Orbit posted with his biggest fans!

Orbit posted with his biggest fans!

Astros Meet & Tweet/Social Media Night Recap

Astros Meet & Tweet

Hi and welcome back to Mission Control! As we get down to the final home games, I wanted to take a few minutes to do a quick recap of our first annual Astros Meet & Tweet/Social Media Night which we hosted last Friday, September 18 before the Astros-A’s game. For the 45 of you who joined us, thank you! And for those who didn’t, we had a blast with our special guests and also gave away some fantastic prizes including a George Springer autographed bat, Dallas Keuchel signed baseball, Orbit-Wan Kenobi Bobblehead, Keuchel’s Korner shirts and more.

A huge thank you to our awesome special guests:

  • Astros broadcaster Bill Brown
  • Root Sports reporter Julia Morales
  • Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow
  • Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan
  • Astros radio broadcaster Steve Sparks
  • Astros mascot Orbit

We started off with an exclusive happy hour Meet & Greet with Astros broadcaster Bill Brown at the Saint Arnold Bar:

Then we moved to the Loft at the FiveSeven Grill for our official Meet & Tweet program, which included:

Selfies with Orbit:

Q&As with Julia Morales, Jeff Luhnow, Reid Ryan and Steve Sparks:

9.18.15 vs. OAK73949 9.18.15 vs. OAK739779.18.15 vs. OAK739919.18.15 vs. OAK74015

More selfies!

9.18.15 vs. OAK74000

More fun with the Twitter Mirror:

9.18.15 vs. OAK73998

An exclusive interview with Orbit by Steve Sparks:

9.18.15 vs. OAK74062

After the pregame event, the fans headed to their bullpen box seats with their exclusive #SocialStros emoji shirts for the game.

We look forward to seeing you next season for #SocialStros. Look for information about it early in the season.



Astros Announce 2016 Regular Season Schedule

2016 Astros Schedule Released

2016 Astros Schedule Released

Today the Astros and MLB released the 2016 regular season schedule. The Astros will open the 2016 season at Yankee Stadium on April 4, 2016 and host the Royals for our home opener one week later on April 11. The 2016 schedule features interleague play against the team’s former NL Central rivals including visits to Minute Maid Park by the Cubs and Cardinals. Full press release below:

HOUSTON, TX — The Astros will begin the 2016 season on April 4 vs. the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, marking the first time Houston has ever opened a season on the road vs. the Bronx Bombers. Major League Baseball announced the Master schedule for 2016 today.

The 2016 season will mark the second time in three seasons that the Astros have opened a season vs. the Yankees, with the first coming on April 1, 2014 at Minute Maid Park (6-2 Astros win).

The Astros 2016 Home Opener will be on April 11 vs. the Kansas City Royals, who currently have the best record in the American League.

Interleague play will be another highlight from the 2016 schedule as the Astros will take on their former rivals from the N.L. Central Division. The Cincinnati Reds (June 17-19) Chicago Cubs (Sept. 9-11) and St. Louis Cardinals (Aug. 16-17) all will return to Minute Maid Park for the first time since 2013. The Astros will also take on the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates on the road in 2016.

As in past years, the Astros will face off vs. their in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers, 19 times in 2016 as the battle for the Silver Boot continues. The first of three home series vs. the Rangers is scheduled for the weekend of May 20-22. The other two three-game sets at Minute Maid Park will be August 5-7 and Sept. 12-14. The Los Angeles Angels will visit Houston three times as well for a total of 10 games (June 20-22, July 22-24 and Sept. 22-25).

Additional highlights from the 2016 schedule include home matchups vs. the Boston Red Sox (April 22-24), Yankees (July 25-27) and Toronto Blue Jays (August 1-4).

Season Tickets, Group Tickets, and Individual Game Suite Rentals are on-sale now for the 2016 season. The purchase of 2016 Full Season Tickets also guarantees access to 2015 Postseason ticket options. Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Astros ticket sales office at 1-800-Astros2 or by visiting http://www.astros.com.

As always, the Astros 2016 schedule will be filled with several promotional events and popular giveaway items. Please note that information pertaining to the on-sale dates for 2016 Astros individual tickets will be announced at a later time.

2016 Regular Season Schedule

2016 Regular Season Schedule

Guest Post: A Visit To Cooperstown to Celebrate Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio speaks at his Hall of Fame induction

Craig Biggio speaks at his Hall of Fame induction

Last month the Astros, Astros fans and the City of the Houston celebrated the long-awaited official induction of Craig Biggio into the Baseball Hall of Fame. We’re capping off the celebration this weekend with a special pregame ceremony on Saturday featuring Craig Biggio in his first opportunity to address Astros fans since he was inducted into Cooperstown. Details about the pregame ceremony can be found at our Biggio HOF landing page — gates open at 3:30 pm, fans should be in their seats at 5 pm, Biggio’s Hall of Fame plaque will be on display at Union Square Station and we’ll have special postgame fireworks. But we wanted to share a guest post from our MLB.com Real-Time Correspondent, Ryan Gonzalez, who was in Cooperstown last month for the induction.


By Ryan Gonzalez, Special to Mission Control

Last month, I checked something off the top of my bucket list: go to Cooperstown. My dad always said when either Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first Astros player, we would be there.

Like many kids, my dad is the reason I got into baseball. He took me to my first game at the Astrodome when I was five, and I couldn’t believe there were men playing a game that I had just started playing myself. I remember him saying, “Do you see those guys in the blue and gold? They’re from Houston, they’re who we go for.” I instantly said he was lying as I couldn’t believe there was a team from Houston that I got to cheer for. I wanted to learn everything about the Astros from that day forward, and I did. I grew up cheering on the Killer B’s and seeing the Astros fall just short of winning a World Series with them. We weren’t going to miss it when any of them entered the Hall of Fame.

Ryan Gonzalez and his father at the Hall of Fame

Ryan Gonzalez and his father at the Hall of Fame (photo credit: Ryan Gonzalez)

It seems like many others had the same idea. On our flight to Albany on Thursday, we had to take a stop to Tampa first and 85 people remained on the plane to continue their journey to Cooperstown. The moment we stepped off the plane and walked through the airport, we started hearing “Wow, that’s a lot of Astros fans.” This would continue to be a common occurrence all weekend as that was heard at the Hall of Fame Museum, at the Induction Ceremony, and even the nearby sports bar where all Astros fans congregated for their games against the Red Sox and Royals.

Seeing that many Astros fans make the trip all the way to New York made the experience even better. Biggio’s play in the field made fans love him, and his work off the field made fans respect him. Biggio is the reason I played second base growing up and the reason my uniform was always dirty. He helped turn Houston into a baseball city, and we were out in full force to support him.

On Saturday, we finally made it out to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame Museum and the 2015 Hall of Fame Parade. Of course, there were many great things to see throughout the exhibit, and right on the first floor with the Plaque Gallery was an area for this years class. Craig Biggio’s section had his hat from the game he got hit 3,000, his bat from that season, his Opening Day 2003 jersey, and even some awards he had received over the years.

Astros fans lined up at Biggio's Hall of Fame display

Astros fans lined up at Biggio’s Hall of Fame display (photo credit: Ryan Gonzalez)

As we moved through the Hall, there were plenty of more items belonging to the Astros that had everybody smiling. In the Astros section on the second floor was Jeff Bagwell’s 2005 World Series jersey, Jose Altuve’s bat from the final game of the 2014 season, and Lance Berkman’s grand slam ball from the 18-inning game in the 2005 NLDS. Chris Burke’s 18-inning home run ball was also on display a little further along the way.

Chris Burke's 18th inning home run ball

Chris Burke’s 18th inning home run ball (photo credit: Ryan Gonzalez)

After exiting the Hall of Fame, we walked through Cooperstown and went through all the various shops selling many baseball memorabilia and souvenirs. One thing was very common though throughout all the shops selling 2015 Class items: they were sold out of everything related to Craig Biggio.

It was a sea of blue and orange everywhere we went, and there were several “B-G-O” chants that broke out leading up to the parade. Those chants were nothing compared to when Biggio finally came out. We could hear his name all the way up the street. It was surreal to see him in the back of a truck with thousands of Astros packed in just to catch a brief glimpse of him.

Craig and Patty Biggio at Hall of Fame Parade

Craig and Patty Biggio at Hall of Fame Parade

Finally, it was induction day. 50,000 packed the Clark Sports Center for the 2015 Class, and it was an emotional time for many there. Biggio did what he did his entire career, and that was lead things off. The crowd cheered his name non-stop until he started speaking, and we listened to every word. By the time his speech was over, there weren’t very many dry eyes left. His speech ended with a standing ovation and one last “B-G-O” chant.

Craig Biggio delivers Hall of Fame induction speech

Craig Biggio delivers Hall of Fame induction speech

The Astros fans finally had their guy in Cooperstown.

Mission Control Guest Post: Orbit tackles the Cypress Triathlon

Hello Astros fans! Orbit here, back for another guest post here on Mission Control. It’s been a crazy and exciting time here at Minute Maid Park since my last guest post back in April, and while the team’s been doing great, I’ve been keeping busy both on and off the field!

In case you missed it, me and my fur ball buddies, Clutch and Diesel, ventured into our second foray of feats of mascot strength a few short weeks ago. This time, we tackled the Cypress Triathlon to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t seen our team page, check it out at https://my.reason2race.com/event/cypresstriathlonbbbstx.Cypress Triathlon Finish 2

For those of who aren’t familiar with a triathlon, it’s a swim, bike ride and run all in succession. You know….because doing them on their own for each of us was just too easy for fat mascots. This triathlon was of the sprint variety, meaning we had to complete a 550 meter swim, 13 mile bike ride, capped off by a 5K run.

While we’re all a little insane, we aren’t completely out of our minds, so we broke it up into a mascot relay of sorts. Since Clutch and I each have ventured into running and biking, respectively, Diesel drew the undoubtedly hardest straw to kick-off our relay with the swim. While we knew we weren’t going to break any records that day, we all had a goal in mind of being competitive. In hind sight, this proved to be a little ambitious.

As I said, Diesel kicked the race off with his open water 550 meter swim. If you guessed that water and mascots mix, you’d be exactly wrong. Poor guy fox paddled the entire way though and managed to make it through in one piece. If you’ve ever seen a meme of a cat after it gets a bath, that’s about the closest thing I can think to compare his exit from the pond. Tired, water logged, but not beaten, Diesel emerged from the water in a much faster time than any of us had thought he might and tagged me in for the bike portion of the race.Cypress Triathlon Diesel

This is the part of the post where I’m suppose to tell you that my 13 miles on a bike was easier than moon walking on ice. After all, I’ve ridden a bike for 180 miles over two days. Two things I forgot to factor in….Texas heat in July and humidity. I’m going on record as saying that I love our roof at Minute Maid Park and that it really would have come in handy that day. Five minutes in I was drenched with sweat and smelled like a teenager’s laundry hamper. None the less, I peddled through and made it the 13 miles, but not without the encouragement from my fellow riders. They kept me going, and I imagine I kept them going as well. I mean, how often do you get passed by a giant green alien on a bicycle?

At my finish, Clutch was ready to tackle the final leg of the triathlon; the daunting 5K run. Now, I didn’t get a chance to see Clutch run since his course took him over several parts of the park, and truthfully, I was using that time to catch my breath from my leg. He’s the runner of the group, and like me, he’s completed more difficult races than this. At this point in the morning though, the weather is starting to warm up like the pot of water at a crawfish boil. Early on it felt nice, but by this point, it was downright balmy.

Cypress Triathlon Diesel 3

After about twenty minutes, Diesel and I make our way to the finish line to meet our favorite running bear. Yes, twenty minutes! Papa Bear Clutch was running as if there was a honey pot at the finish! Like Diesel and I, he crossed the finish line in a heap of exhaustion.

We’d officially done it! This group of tons of mascot fun managed to do what several had doubted, and we finished a triathlon in right at two hours! We couldn’t have done it without the help of each of our respective teams, race organizers, support staffs, but most of all, the fans. You guys who were out there with us pushing us forward made a difference in keeping us going, one stroke, pedal or stride at a time.Cypress Triathlon Diesel 2

As I mentioned earlier, if you haven’t had a chance to visit our team page, please go to https://my.reason2race.com/event/cypresstriathlonbbbstx. If you have the means to donate, please do. However, if you don’t, I would encourage you to consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. It’s a great organization that does a lot of good work.

Until next time, I’ll see you at the ballpark cheering on our Astros!

Cypress Triathlon Finish 3

Meet the Bergs, Carlos Correa’s Honorary “Aunt and Uncle”

Jeff and Suzie Berg proudly watch Carlos Correa in Anaheim

Jeff and Suzie Berg proudly watch Carlos Correa in Anaheim

By Maren Angus, special to Mission Control

Anaheim, CA – In a sea of red on Monday night in Anaheim, fans could see a spot of orange behind the Houston dugout. The spot couldn’t be missed, not just because of the two people wearing bright orange Correa shirts, but the huge smiles on their faces.

Jeff and Suzie Berg are members of the Lancaster JetHawks Booster Club and sponsor players on the team, the Astros’ Advanced-A affiliate in Lancaster, California. The first player they sponsored? A young baseball player named Carlos Correa.

The Bergs met Correa at a team dinner hosted by the Booster Club before the start of the 2014 season, when Correa was 19 years old.

“We were having a team dinner and everybody was picking players,” said Correa. “I crossed paths with them and they asked if they could be my sponsors and I told them yes, of course.”

Carlos Correa starred for the Lancaster JetHawks in 2014.

Carlos Correa starred for the Lancaster JetHawks in 2014.

The Bergs sponsored Correa for the duration of his time in Lancaster and became what they call his “aunt and uncle.”

“We run errands for them and are there for support,” said Suzie. “We cheer them on and have them over for holidays because they are alone.”

After the Bergs began sponsoring Correa, they got in touch with his family in Puerto Rico. They wanted to tell them who they were and that they would be looking out for Carlos.

“They helped me a lot when I was there. There’s not much to do in Lancaster, so it was nice having a house to go to and eat or just talk,” said Correa. “It’s a long season and that year I got hurt. They took care of me and I will always be thankful for that.”

This time last year, the Correas and Bergs met for the first time.

“Carlos’ mom, dad, brother, little sister and grandmother came to visit. They had traveled all day to get there (Lancaster) and we took them out to dinner,” said Suzie. “By the time dinner was over, it was signed, sealed and delivered that we were doing our 30th anniversary in Puerto Rico. In January and February, we stayed with his family in Puerto Rico.”

Carlos Correa's family

Carlos Correa’s family

When the Bergs arrived in Puerto Rico, they really didn’t know what to expect. All they knew of Correa was that he played Advanced-A ball in Lancaster. Imagine the shock on their faces when they saw Correa’s face on a billboard on the side of the freeway.

“We’re looking at them from the single A level going up and for us it’s hard to see how important they are to people coming from the top,” said Suzie.

Correa and the Bergs stay in touch via texts or phone calls about twice a week. Jeff always makes sure he has enough suits and that he is staying healthy.

“They came to watch me play in Fresno and it was really great to see them there,” said Correa, who played with the Astros’ AAA affiliate Fresno Grizzlies from May 12-June 7 before his promotion to the Astros. “They are really great people and it’s always great to be around them.”

On June 8, everything Jeff and Suzie hoped would happen with Correa came true. He made his Major League debut and on Monday they watched the 20-year-old run out of the Astros’ dugout onto a Major League field.

The Bergs are all smiles as they watch Correa on the field

The Bergs are all smiles as they watch Correa on the field

“It’s exciting, when he came out of the dugout and looked and saw us, he had a big smile on his face,” said Jeff. “It was worth everything just to see the huge smile on his face.”

Covering the Bases: Q&A with Astros OF Preston Tucker

Houston Astros' Preston Tucker hits a home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Houston Astros’ Preston Tucker hits a home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Hi there and welcome back to Mission Control! As promised, we’re going to be bringing you some fun, quick Q&As with some of our newer players so you can get to know them a little better off the field. Our next subject is Astros rookie outfielder Preston Tucker, not to be confused with this Preston Tucker.  The 24-year old left-handed slugger grew up in Tampa, Florida, as a Devil Rays fan and graduated from Plant High School in Tampa. The University of Florida graduate made his MLB debut with the Astros on May 7 and has made quite an impression since then. In his first game at the Angels, he singled to right for a game-tying RBI in the 9th inning for his first MLB hit (the Astros went on to win the game 3-2).

In 14 games and 47 plate appearances since his call-up from Fresno, Tucker is batting .341 (14×41) with 2 home runs (both pinch-hit, game-tying home runs — see video below), 4 doubles, 7 RBI, .585 slugging percentage and 1.011 OPS. There’s a reason his nickname is Bam Bam (more on that below).

Now let’s get to know Tucker a little better:

Mission Control: What posters did you have on your wall growing up?

Preston Tucker: I had a Ken Griffey, Jr. poster along with a ton of signed balls and cards, a Chipper Jones poster and a John Elway poster.

MC: As a kid, what players did you love watching? 

Tucker: Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jim Edmonds. Left-handed centerfielders. I have to stick to the corners now.

MC: What’s your guilty pleasure song on your phone?

Tucker: No song in particular, but I do have a Taylor Swift station on my phone. Big fan and I know she’s coming to Minute Maid and I’m pretty excited about it. Hopefully she’ll come to a ballgame.

MC: What’s your hidden talent? 

Tucker: I used to be pretty good at guitar I played all high school played all through college. Once I got to pro ball I stopped bringing it with me so I’ll have to brush up in the off season.

MC: What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Tucker: Probably Journey, pretty standard. I’m a big country guy but I like signing along to Journey.  I’m not good.

MC: What’s the story behind your nickname, “Bam Bam”?

Tucker: It definitely came when I got to pro ball. Still not sure where it started or the story behind it, but I just embraced it and stuck with it.

MC: Favorite ice cream flavor?

Tucker: Mint chocolate chip for sure.

MC: Where is the baseball from your first Major League hit? 

Tucker: Sent my first hit home with mom and pops. I’m assuming it’s safe at home somewhere.

MC: Any person, living or dead, who would you want to have dinner with?

Tucker: Other than Taylor Swift?

Thanks for being a good sport, Preston, and keep on mashing those baseballs.

– Amanda Rykoff

Astros OF Preston Tucker Makes MLB Debut, Family Makes Whirlwind Trip to Be There

Preston Tucker high fives with teammate Hank Conger after the Astros big win. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/ Getty Images)

Preston Tucker high fives with teammate Hank Conger after the Astros big win. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/ Getty Images)

By Maren Angus, special to Mission Control

Anaheim, CA – It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours with little sleep for Preston Tucker and his family.

The Astros outfielder went from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday to the starting lineup against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Thursday to first Major League hit and RBI that tied the game in the 9th inning.

“It’s a special night for him,” said Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch.  “I’m not sure you draw it up any better for him.  The guys were excited for him and welcomed him to the big leagues after the game.  A big hat tip to him for competing tonight.”

Tucker, a seventh round draft pick out of the University of Florida in 2012, found out he’d been promoted to the Astros from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday. One day later, he was in the starting lineup for his Major League debut against the Angels, batting eighth and playing left field.

Tucker was 0-2 with a walk when he stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth inning against Angels closer Huston Street. With two runners on base, Tucker, who was looking fastball, ended up taking a changeup off Street to right field, scoring Robbie Grossman to tie the game at 2-2.

Preston Tucker's first MLB hit and RBI (photo courtesy Angels Photo Services)

Preston Tucker’s first MLB hit and RBI (photo courtesy Angels Photo Services)

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Tucker on getting his first hit and RBI. “I don’t know if it’s set in yet.”

Playing on a new field in a different city didn’t seem to affect Tucker. He said he was fine in the box but was a little nervous out in the field.

“I was pretty relaxed during the game. Going into the game there was a lot more nerves but once I got to the locker room I got into my routine again and I felt pretty comfortable.”

Making a big league debut only happens once and Tucker’s immediate family, girlfriend and high school baseball coach weren’t going to miss it, even on such short notice and with 3000 miles to travel from Florida to Anaheim.

“It’s always a thrill to come out and see your son put on a Major League uniform for the first time,” said Tucker’s father Mike.  “It’s something he has been looking forward to for many many years and it’s exciting to be able to bring the whole family out here.”

The Tucker crew — dad, girlfriend, brother Kyle, sister Hannah, mother Lisa Fernandez and Plant (FL) High School baseball coach Dennis Braun — had one hour to pack and head to the airport to make the trip to Southern California.

“He called us and within five minutes we were making arrangements for the trip,” said Mike.

Preston Tucker's family and coach made the trip to Anaheim for his MLB debut

Preston Tucker’s family and high school coach made the trip to Anaheim for his MLB debut

Tucker’s girlfriend Morgan Pirkle packed so quickly she didn’t pack a jacket, leaving her unprepared for the cool Southern California night. No matter, this was a once in a lifetime moment.

Everything happened so fast for the family to make it to the stadium on time for batting practice but the experience is something that Preston’s younger brother, Kyle, has been anxiously waiting to see.

“I’ve been watching him play throughout his life but getting to see him play at the Major League level is something I know he’ll never forget but we’ll never forget either,” said Kyle.

Before the game, Tucker met with manager A.J. Hinch. During that meeting Hinch reminded the rookie to take a deep breath and take it all in.

“There’s only one first day. Enjoy it, take a deep breath and take in as much as you can,” said Hinch.  “It’s exciting to reward a guy for getting off to a good start.  He’s done everything he’s needed to do to become a real option for us.”

Tucker, 24, was hitting .320 and led all of minor league baseball with 10 HR and 32 RBI in 25 games for Fresno this season. Tucker posted a .378 on-base percentage and a 1.028 OPS.

Starting Thursday night’s game was Hinch’s plan when the team called him up. It’s his way to allow a young player making his debut to get the jitters out and get into the flow of a Major League game.

“There’s opportunities and at bats to be taken here,” said Hinch about Tucker’s playing time.  “A lot depends on how he presents himself. If he can help us win, then he will get the opportunity.”

Preston Tucker's first MLB postgame on field interview (photo courtesy Angels Photo Services)

Preston Tucker’s first MLB postgame on field interview (photo courtesy Angels Photo Services)

With a game-tying RBI single in a road game against a division rival, that’s a pretty good start.

Mission Control Guest Post: Orbit Dishes on the BP MS150 Bike Ride!

This is how I roll

This is how I roll (photo credit @Marco4rmHouston)

It’s been a little busy around here lately with the whole 10-game winning streak and being in first place, so we didn’t have a chance to share this extra special guest post until now. And it’s worth the wait, trust me. You know Orbit’s antics on the field make him an MVM (Most Valuable Mascot), but he’s also pretty awesome off the field. Two weeks ago, while in the middle of a homestand, Orbit teamed up with his mascot buddies Clutch of the Rockets and Diesel of the Dynamo, to ride the BP MS150 bike ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis. And what’s more, he had actually completed the entire 180 mile course BY HIMSELF last year. Yeah, he’s awesome. But enough from me yammering on. Here’s our favorite mascot and yours in his own words talking about this unique experience. Take it away, Orbit!


Hey Astros fans! Yes, it’s really me, your favorite mascot. Welcome to my first foray into the blogosphere. I’ve trained these fuzzy fingers of mine this off-season, and at the request of my esteemed co-worker and social media guru, Amanda Rykoff, I’ve decided to take my talents to more than 140 characters of semi-hilarity.

In case you missed it, on April 18-19, I teamed up with my mascot buddies, Clutch of the Houston Rockets, and Diesel of the Houston Dynamo, to ride the BP MS150. The BP MS150 is a two-day, 180 mile bike ride from Houston to Austin. Yes, you read that right. 180 miles of tubby mascots on bicycles, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds!

Last year I jumped in the deep end of the pool with both feet and rode the entire ride by myself. Probably a little ambitious, but if you’ve ever seen my antics on the field, you know that I’m not one to shy away from many things!

Orbit celebrates completing the MS150 in 2014.

I celebrated completing the MS150 in 2014 like a boss.

As fun of an experience as it was, I walked like a baby giraffe for a week. So when Clutch and Diesel offered to team up with me to ride this year, I welcomed the help! The idea was for each of us to split the ride into thirds each day, making for a more mascot-friendly ride. Now, I may consider myself an adopted Texan, but this heat is still no joke and made me consider strapping an AC unit to my bike.

Before the ride, I attended the BP MS150 Expo on Friday. The Expo provides an opportunity for participants to pick up their rider packers, catch up with friends or check out some new gear for the ride. It’s open to all who want to ride – including green aliens, bears and foxes. I saw some cool stuff, but I opted to stick with my custom Astros jersey. Nothing personal to the vendor selling the jersey, but nobody needed to see this much handsome inside that small of a jersey.

I checked out the MS150 Expo. The shirt's a little small.

I checked out the MS150 Expo. The shirt’s a little small.

Coincidentally, a few of their other products seemed to be of more interest to me. 

Now we're talking Orbit fuel

Now we’re talking Orbit fuel

While at The Expo, word came down that the first day of the ride had been cancelled due to all of the rain the area had received. As disappointing as this was, me and my mascot crew did not let the decision rain on our bicycle parade. Saturday was out, but Sunday was still a go!

 The plan on Sunday was for me to start the ride, tag-in Diesel, and then have Clutch finish the ride into Austin. After the Astros big win on Saturday night over the Angels, Sunday morning came awfully early as me and my spot-rider/resident Astros ticket sales rep extraordinaire, Christian, made the 100 mile trek to La Grange to start day two. Christian rode the entire ride with me last year and agreed to help me out again this year. Spending the better part of 23 hours on a bike next to one another during the 2014 ride made us quite the bros, and I owe a big “Thanks!” to that guy both this year and last. I guess you could say Christian is an honorary Mascot Bro.

With my honorary Mascot Bro, Christian.

With my honorary Mascot Bro, Christian.

We arrived and lined up at the starting line ready to take on our 26 mile leg from La Grange, to the Smithville area. As always, there was excitement in the air and the previous day’s rain didn’t put a damper on the mood of the riders.

While one may argue my belly’s fame only comes in behind Santa, it isn’t exactly ergonomically designed for a normal bike. This necessitates me riding a three wheeling tricycle-like bike. Imagine if a bike and a hand gliding rig had a child….that’s my bike. While comfortable and ideal for coasting down a mountain, it creates some challenges in the Texas hill country, more specifically, going up hills. That being said, it was nothing a moon pie and a supreme athletic prowess couldn’t handle.

The support we’ve received from the MS Society and our fellow riders was nothing short of fantastic. Lots of encouraging words and the occasional odd look made the 26 mile ride a breeze. And of course there were selfies. So. Many. Selfies. I cruised into La Grange around 10:30am and tagged in my buddy Diesel.

Time for Diesel to take the wheel

Time for Diesel to take the wheel

It wasn’t a moment too soon, as I was able to jump in my van and cruise back to Houston in time for our 1:10pm game….and a game of Jenga with a few “friends”.

Meanwhile, Diesel and Clutch moved on without me and finished the big ride and successfully completed our 80 mile mascot bicycle adventure.

Mascot Bros are awesome!

Diesel and Clutch finished the race! Mascot Bros are awesome!

The ride was challenging and a lot of fun, but I’m most proud of the awareness we were able to bring to the MS Society, as well as raising money on their behalf. If you’d still like to donate to our team, it’s not too late! You can go to our mascot team page here and donate!

 Be on the lookout for more joint amazing mascot feats in the coming months and I’ll see you at the ballpark!

– Orbit









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