COOPERSTOWN, NY (CBS HOUSTON) – On Sunday afternoon when long time Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame he will be surrounded by a sea of Astros fans along with a collection of former teammates and coaches in town ready to congratulate him on the honor he had to wait a little extra time to earn.
On Friday evening in Cooperstown the Astros hosted a celebration mixer and dinner for those who have been connected to Bagwell throughout his 15-year major league career.
Former teammate Moises Alou, former Astros general manager Bill Wood (the man that acquired Bagwell in the infamous Larry Andersen trade), longtime broadcaster Bill Brown were among many players, coaches, and executives on-hand to celebrate Bagwell.
Even Matt Galante, the longtime Astros coach who has been fighting a recent battle with leukemia, wanted nothing more to be in Cooperstown this weekend to congratulate Bagwell on his career achievement and was given the ok from his doctors to attend the event. Although Galante pointed out he may have come anyway.
With Bagwell set to join his long time teammate Craig Biggio with a plaque just a few feet away from his, no different than their playing days as they spent a lot of games standing side-by-side on the right side of the Astros infield. The fact that the Astros
“It’s just inspiring,” said Larry Dierker, the former Astros broadcaster and the man that managed Bagwell to several playoff appearances in the 90s. “I think a lot about this sport and how it’s evolved over the years and I think about people I’ve known personally. Biggio two years ago, now Bagwell, the first Astros. It fills you up. It’s quite an experience. ”
Dierker, who was a self-professed hands off manager, mentioned that he didn’t have to do much of anything with Bagwell except watch and enjoy the way he played the game. Phil Garner, who managed Bagwell at the end of his career, including the World Series season in 2005, echoed Dierker’s sentiment.
“The great players you don’t get in their way, You just put them in the line-up and let them play,” Garner said. “(Biggio and Bagwell) were fun to watch in the dugout and fun to watch in the seats too.”
Brown, who called many of Bagwell’s 449 home runs on the many different Astros television outlets through the years feels that the organization’s successes in the 90s, while not championship seasons, were worthy of the baseball world taking notice because of the duo standing at first and second.
“It just validates an entire era of Astros baseball now that number five and number seven are both in the hall of fame,” Brown said of the Killer-B tandem.
Bagwell will join longtime Texas Rangers catcher Pudge Rodriguez, and Tim Raines as the player inductees and will be inducted along with former commissioner Bud Selig and longtime Braves GM John Schuerholz at the ceremony on Sunday.
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio