HOUSTON - Tens of thousands of fans routinely pack Minute Maid park to cheer on the Astros, but few are as dedicated as the official Fans of The Year.
Last year was the first time Major League Baseball allowed an online vote for each team’s #FOTY. Team Moon and Team Welbes are the Astros 2016 reigning champs.
Through fair balls and foul, Barbara Moon, Jimmy Moon, Susan Welbes and Michael Welbes have been Astros fans. Both couples have been season ticket holders since 2004.
You can find them planted nine rows behind the Astros dugout.
“I have been a baseball fan my entire life," Susan Welbes said. "In fact, I keep score at each game. I love it. My mom was huge baseball fan.”
Susan Welbes wears her colors from her head to toe. At the season home opener, she wore baseball earrings and toenails painted with the Astros colors and logo.
Barbara Moon also sported her ‘Stros uniform from head to toe. She wore a sequined Astros cap and baseball leather shoes with red seams and laces.
Barbara Moon is known as the "Astros' Sign Lady." The two couples are the Sign Squad, carrying and sharing an endless sheaf of signs, cards & banners. They encourage other fans to wave them around.
They also have more memorabilia than you could shake a bat at. Barbara Moon has about a thousand autographed baseballs, signed by managers, players and presidents. The mother of four catalogues them with spreadsheets. Her family knows the score.
“When my first daughter got married, it was around the baseball schedule," Barbara Moon said. "Baby parties, baby showers are always around the baseball schedule.”
That applies to patients, too. The Moons are dentists.
“I’ve rescheduled a couple of patients now and then for the ball game," Barbara Moon said.
Last year, the two couples ran for Fans of the Year and won the online vote. That earned them an appearance on the big screen, two tickets to the Opening Day game and bragging rights.
Team Moon averages about 90 games a year, making nearly all the home games. As for Team Welbes, husband Michael has four years of perfect home game attendance. That will be ruined next month, when he will miss a game for his daughter’s graduation at the University of Texas in Austin. Texas declined to move the graduation to accommodate the baseball schedule.
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