Hello. Welcome to my latest blog (finally). I'm giving this one a title: "Jimmy Wynn, Heat and Snoop Dogg...a lame adventure in Houston".
The last six summers I've worked for a baseball team in Madison, the Mallards. In that time, a number of former big leaguers have been to the ballpark to visit with fans and sign autographs. One of my favorites is former Houston Astros star Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn. Jimmy's number has been retired by the Astros. He's a wonderful guy to visit with. I told him that I work for the Admirals in the winter and would be in Houston on occasion. He said to look him up when I was in town. Well, this time I did.
I called Jimmy before the third game of the Admirals/Aeros series. I left a message at his home. He called me back at 5:30 and we talked briefly. I had to finish preparation for the night's game while he was checking on the Astros (Jimmy also does some TV work for Fox Sports Houston during the pre- and post-game show). He said he'd call me Wednesday when he had a moment. He would be involved in meetings all day. Well, I didn't hear from him. However, I decided to go to the Astros/Cubs game anyway. I called up a couple buddies, Jason Shaver, the former Houston announcer and current Chicago Wolves play-by-play man, and Joseph Zakrzewski, who covers the Aeros and has family in South Milwaukee.
Let me tell you, the heat in Houston is oppressive. On this night, I felt like I had taken several punches from Andrew Golota. Joseph picked me up and we went to the game. The poor kid couldn't turn the air conditioning on for fear of overheating.
The three of us walked to Minute Maid Park. We parked a few blocks away for $5. We then paid a man $10 for three tickets to sit in the upper deck. Joseph pointed out the Fox Sports broadcast area in left field and we walked over there. Standing ten feet away was Jimmy Wynn. He apologized that he didn't call and reiterated he was in meetings all day. We talked with Jimmy, who was wearing his 1977 World Championship ring from the Yankees, about the struggles of the Astros this season. He was very vocal about how pitchers nowadays are soft. He just shook his head when we talked about pitch counts. Remember, this is a guy that played behind a lot of innings eaters: Don Wilson, Larry Dierker, Don Sutton and many others. He offered tickets for Friday's game and we eagerly accepted.
We then went to the top level in left field to watch the game. Unlike a Brewers/Cubs game, there weren't many people at this one. We had our choice of sections. We decided to sit fairly close to the train. Now, it was 90 degrees, but the breeze up high was very nice. We talked, told stories...it was a fun night at the ballpark. Then, at 9:44 p.m., I received a text message that would change the night from quiet to a little bit interesting.
Let's do a flashback here: We stayed at the Hilton, next to the Toyota Center. It's a nice hotel and the first one I've been in that actually has a 13th floor. I know because I stayed on it. When I left to go to the lobby, there was a big guy sitting on a chair outside a room at the end of the hall. He was well-dressed. Another gentleman walked down the hall behind me. I said hello to both and waited for the elevator while the two men engaged in conversation. I didn't think much of it.
Fast forward to 9:44 p.m.: the text I received from assistant coach Brad Lauer read, "I think Snoop Dogg is on our floor." WHOA!?!?!?!
Snoop was playing the House of Blues that night, which is about two blocks away from the hotel. When I remembered the men in the hallway, it started to make a little sense. But, I really found out that it was legitimate when I arrived back at my room. The second-hand smoke hit me instantly as the elevator door opened. I immediately got the second-hand munchies from it. I was staying eight rooms away from Snoop Dogg, at least for a few hours. I don't think he came back to the hotel. I believe he went to the the next town on the tour. It's funny to think how close I was to bumping into him.
Still, I'm more impressed and proud to have seen Jimmy Wynn at Minute Maid Park.
Until next time...Go Admirals!!!