Astros fans lament last days in National League

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by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 11:30 PM

HOUSTON -- Atop the file cabinets in Marc Campos’ office in the Heights sit piles upon piles of collectible memorabilia given away at Houston Astros games.

"Bagwell bobbleheads, Berkman bobbleheads," he said, as he surveyed his stockpile.  "A couple of Hunter Pence bobbleheads, Jeff Kent bobbleheads, Milo Hamilton bobbleheads."

Even more impressive is the cabinet sitting in the corner housing dozens of plastic boxes, each of which contains a foul ball. Each ball is marked with the dates of games Campos has attended during the last decade.

"I’m the unofficial record holder for foul balls caught over at Minute Maid Park," said Campos, whose front row, first base line season ticket seats put him in position to scoop balls off the field with his baseball cap. "I’ve probably gotten over 90."

But he suspects he’ll catch fewer fouls now that the Astros are switching to the American League, where designated hitters usually bat for pitchers.

"When a pitcher hits, usually a pitcher swings late," he explained.

Such is the fate of diehard Houston Astros fans trying to assess the impact of next season’s move to the American League West. As the Astros prepared for their last home game in National League, longtime fans either bristled with resentment or shrugged with resignation over the impending change.

Baseball is a game of traditions, but a half-century of Major League Baseball tradition in Houston comes to an end with the Astros’ move to the American League.  Gone are the old rivalries with the Cardinals and the Cubs.  Now when we watch ballgames at Minute Maid Park, we’re more likely to see West Coast teams like the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics.

But new rivalries seem certain.  The Texas Rangers would seem to be natural enemies for the Astros, given Houston’s innate dislike for all things Dallas.  And we’ll see more games with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two of baseball’s most popular teams.

Still, the humiliating reality is that Major League Baseball officials, seizing upon an opportunity to balance the number of teams in each league, strong-armed Houston out of the National League.  The switch became a pre-condition for approval of the team’s sale by Drayton McLane to an investment group led by Jim Crane.

"Houstonians don’t like being told what to do," said Bill McCurdy, a baseball historian whose written two books about Astros players.  "And we are also a National League City."

McCurdy stood in line at Minute Maid Park for the last game of the season wearing a jersey marked "Mudville," a none-too-subtle reference to the downbeat final line of "Casey at the Bat."  He noted that the impending switch ends an association between Houston and the National League dating back 90 years to the days when the Houston Buffs served as a farm club for the St. Louis Cardinals.

"That’s 90 years," he said. "It’s family they’re taking."

But Campos has decided to roll with the punch, grousing about the lousy performance of the 2012 Astros but still trying to sound upbeat.

"I’m not going to waste a whole lot of energy fretting about going to the American League," he said.  "I’m just going to accept it and enjoy it."

Even if he catches fewer foul balls.

No joy in Spaceville; Astros fans lament last days in league

By Doug Miller

KHOU 11 News

 

HOUSTON -- Atop the file cabinets in Marc Campos’ office in the Heights sit piles upon piles of collectible memorabilia given away at Houston Astros games.

"Bagwell bobbleheads, Berkman bobbleheads," he said, as he surveyed his stockpile.  "A couple of Hunter Pence bobbleheads, Jeff Kent bobbleheads, Milo Hamilton bobbleheads."

Even more impressive is the cabinet sitting in the corner housing dozens of plastic boxes, each of which contains a foul ball.  Each ball is marked with the dates of games Campos has attended during the last decade.

"I’m the unofficial record holder for foul balls caught over at Minute Maid Park," said Campos, whose front row, first base line season ticket seats put him in position to scoop balls off the field with his baseball cap.  "I’ve probably gotten over 90."

But he suspects he’ll catch fewer fouls now that the Astros are switching to the American League, where designated hitters usually bat for pitchers.

"When a pitcher hits, usually a pitcher swings late," he explained.

Such is the fate of diehard Houston Astros fans trying to assess the impact of next season’s move to the American League West.  As the Astros played their last home game in National League, longtime fans either bristled with resentment or shrugged with resignation over the impending change.

Baseball is a game of traditions, but a half-century of Major League Baseball tradition in Houston comes to an end with the Astros’ move to the American League.  Gone are the old rivalries with the Cardinals and the Cubs.  Now when we watch ballgames at Minute Maid Park, we’re more likely to see West Coast teams like the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics.

But new rivalries seem certain.  The Texas Rangers would seem to be natural enemies for the Astros, given Houston’s innate dislike for all things Dallas.  And we’ll see more games with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two of baseball’s most popular teams.

Still, the humiliating reality is that Major League Baseball officials, seizing upon an opportunity to balance the number of teams in each league, strong-armed Houston out of the National League.  The switch became a pre-condition for approval of the team’s sale by Drayton McLane to an investment group led by Jim Crane.

"Houstonians don’t like being told what to do," said Bill McCurdy, a baseball historian whose written two books about Astros players.  "And we are also a National League City."

McCurdy stood in line at Minute Maid Park for the last game of the season wearing a jersey marked "Mudville," a none-too-subtle reference to the downbeat final line of "Casey at the Bat."  He noted that the impending switch ends an association between Houston and the National League dating back 90 years to the days when the Houston Buffs served as a farm club for the St. Louis Cardinals.

"That’s 90 years," he said. "It’s family they’re taking."

But Campos has decided to roll with the punch, grousing about the lousy performance of the 2012 Astros but still trying to sound upbeat.

"I’m not going to waste a whole lot of energy fretting about going to the American League," he said. "I’m just going to accept it and enjoy it."

Even if he catches fewer foul balls.

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