The Astros Home Sweet Home program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes an on-field batting practice visit. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." On September 19, the Astros partnered with the U.S. Air Force for the Home Sweet Home program.
Play Green® ambassador Geoff Blum visited third grade students at Walker Station Elementary School on September 17. Blum's visit rewarded the kids for their Earth-friendly efforts and while there he read Miss Fox's Class Goes Green, presented the kids with their own autographed copy of the book along with Play Green® baseball caps and tickets to the October 1 game. The visit to Walker Station Elementary was part of the Astros Play Green® school initiative that was implemented to teach students at an early age about the environment and to assist them in building a lifetime of responsible actions that make a positive difference.
On September 14, Hunter Pence went back to school as part of the Astros and Whataburger "Take A Player To School" program. During the summer, fans participated in an online essay contest that awarded one lucky student the opportunity to take a player to school at the start of the 2010-2011 school year. More than 1,600 entries were received from parents, relatives and friends of area first through eighth-graders.
This year's winner was 13-year old, Jacob Barrios of Spring Branch, Texas. A seventh-grader at Landrum Middle School, Barrios was personally escorted to school in his own limousine by Junction Jack, the Astros mascot. Later that morning, Jacob was the most popular kid at school as his special guest, Hunter Pence, visited him at Landrum Middle School, ate lunch with Jacob and four of his friends courtesy of Whataburger and visited Jacob's Language Arts class.
Prior to the game that night, Jacob and his family watched batting practice from the field, Jacob threw out a ceremonial first pitch and the family watched the game from a suite.
To commemorate the ninth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Houston Astros honored area first responders and military personnel with activities on September 10 and 11. The days' events provided an opportunity for Astros players and fans to thank the community's public servants for their dedication to protecting others.
Adopt-A-Firehouse Player Visits - September 10
On September 10, four players visited their "adopted" firehouses and presented the firefighters with a framed, autographed jersey. They met both on-duty and off-duty firefighters and their families.
Firehouse No. 2 - Brad Mills
5880 Woodway, Houston, Texas 77057
Firehouse No. 8 - Jeff Keppinger
1919 Louisiana, Houston, TX 77002
Firehouse No. 4 - Jason Michaels
6530 West Little York, Houston, TX 77088
Firehouse No. 20 - Bud Norris
6902 Navigation, Houston, TX 77011
Heroes Night - September 11
Prior to the Astros-Dodgers game on September 11, the Astros conducted a special ceremony honoring area heroes. Active members of local police, fire, EMS and military that attended the game in uniform were on the field for the special ceremony. Included in the ceremonies was "Heroes Take The Field" - one representative from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Houston Police Department (HPD), Houston Fire Department (HFD) and Houston Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was selected to take a position on the field with an Astros player for the National Anthem and to throw out ceremonial first pitches. Other local heroes presented a giant American flag for the singing of the National Anthem.
The Astros In Action Foundation also hosted a Mystery Autographed Baseball Grab Bag fundraiser on September 11. Fans were able to purchase a bag that contained one autographed baseball from the Astros current roster. In addition to the current roster, former Astros players and fan favorites Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Jose Cruz, Larry Dierker, Roy Oswalt and Jimmy Wynn autographed baseballs were included. Proceeds from the fundraiser were donated to the USO. The mission of the USO is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to service members and their families.
Home Sweet Home
The Astros Home Sweet Home program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes an on-field batting practice visit. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." On September 11, the Astros partnered with the USO for the Home Sweet Home program.
Jeff Bagwell purchased 250 tickets in the All-You-Can-Eat section for the game and with the help of Budweiser these tickets were donated to active military in Houston, San Antonio and Temple.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Astros partnered with HomeAid Houston a charitable organization of the Greater Houston Builders Association, to help combat homelessness. On display at Minute Maid Park from July 23-August 1 and August 9-19, was a one-of-a-kind 10' x 10' Astros-branded playhouse that was built to replicate a baseball dugout. Playhouse amenities included authentic Astros bench seating, iPod Nano, Wii Game Station, 32" HDTV, Blu-ray Disc player, 8,000 BTU air conditioning and a stainless steel beverage center. To help raise funds for the charity, fans purchased $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win the playhouse. HomeAid and the Astros presented the playhouse key to the Branum family, winners of the 2010 playhouse, during a ceremony prior to the August 31 contest against the St. Louis Cardinals.
On August 31, The Houston Astros Urban Youth Academy hosted a Coaches clinic for Houston Jr. Reviving Baseball In Inner-Cities (RBI) coaches. The clinic included instruction on how to teach basic fundamental skills such as fielding, throwing, and hitting along with other helpful coaching techniques.
The Houston Astros Major League Baseball Academy is designed to provide year-round baseball and softball instruction to local youth. In addition to baseball and softball instruction, boys and girls attending the Astros Urban Youth Academy will be given the opportunity to participate in free seminars on umpiring, athletic field management, scouting and player development, sports and broadcast journalism, public relations and statistics, as well as athletic sports training.
For the 18th year, Craig and Patty Biggio hosted the Sunshine Kids to a memorable baseball experience. On August 20, the Biggios, along with Sunshine Kids families, played on the field and ate lunch in the award-winning FiveSeven Grille. The kids received autographs from Craig along with an Astros goodie bag. The Sunshine Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer and their families. Established in 1982, the organization is committed to providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros Home Sweet Home program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes an on-field batting practice visit. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." On August 15, the Astros partnered with the Military Moms of Texas for the Home Sweet Home program.
The second of two community blood drives hosted by the Astros and ARAMARK and run by The Eileen Murphree McMillin Blood Center at The Methodist Hospital was held on Saturday, August 14 in the Union Station Conference Center at Minute Maid Park. The blood drive was open to everyone 17 and older, weighing at least 110 pounds, and in generally good health. All who donated or attempted to donate received a special Astros T-shirt and the first 100 donors were given a pair of tickets for a future Astros home game.
Members of the Coca-Cola Astros Buddies Kids Club were invited to attend the end of the summer, members-only autograph party on August 13. The event held at Minute Maid Park included free games, magicians, balloon artists, face painting and other entertainment. The highlights of the event were the autograph sessions with pitchers Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Bud Norris, catcher Jason Castro, infielders Pedro Feliz, Chris Johnson and Angel Sanchez and outfielder Jason Bourgeois.
The Astros Wives 21st Annual Black Ties and Baseball Caps Gala took place on August 12 at Minute Maid Park. Chaired by Morgan Keppinger and Heather Byrdak, the event benefiting the Houston Area Women's Center (HAWC) was attended by many current and former Astros players and was emceed by Hall of Fame broadcaster, Milo Hamilton. The signature event themed, "A Night in Paradise" included a cocktail reception and silent auction followed by dinner and a live auction. The mission of the Houston Area Women's Center is to help individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence in their efforts to move their lives forward by providing shelter, counseling and advocacy to live lives free from the effects of violence.
The Astros welcomed a group of approximately 50 people from the Sunshine Kids to Minute Maid Park for a pre-game meet and greet on July 30. In the third and final player meet and greet of the season, players and coaches interacted with the Sunshine Kids and their family members. The Sunshine Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer and their families. Established in 1982, the Sunshine Kids is committed to providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients.
Members of the Coca-Cola Astros Buddies Club receive special benefits available only to kids 14 and under. One of those unique benefits is the chance to take part in Buddies Behind-The-Scenes Day.
On July 24, thirteen lucky members went behind the scenes and learned more about the front office aspects of the game and were mentored by current team employees. The jobs offered insight into the various responsibilities of Astros staff before and during an Astros game. Members took on tasks as grounds crew and park patrol members, Junction Jack, Jr., reporter, TV broadcaster, radio broadcaster, Spanish radio broadcaster, pre-game coordinator, public address announcer, first pitch, kids' first call, and scoreboard operator.
Again this year, eight Buddies members won the opportunity to "work" as Astros players. Each of these kids took their position on the field before the National Anthem and received an autograph when they were joined by the Astros player that started at their position. They then watched the rest of the game as honorary players from their seats.
This fall, 25 local Houston area students are entering their first semester of college with the help of the Houston Astros and Minute Maid Grand Slam for Youth Baseball (GSFYB) scholarship program. The group was honored for their academic achievements and participation in youth baseball/softball at the July 24 game. The scholarship recipients represented 18 different independent school districts and three private schools and they are attending 14 different institutions of higher learning.
The 2010 GSFYB scholarship program set a new record with over 100 applicants and 25 area youth received scholarships of $2,500, to assist with college expenses. This is the sixth year for the GSFYB scholarship program and a total of $236,500 has been awarded.
Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience is a national traveling library exhibit on display at the Lone-Star College, Cy-Fair Branch from July 14 - August 27. The exhibit features photographs of Negro League teams and players along with original documents and artifacts from the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
In celebration of the national tour, the Astros welcomed former Negro League pitcher Johnny "Lefty" Washington of the Chicago American Giants and Houston Eagles to Minute Maid Park on July 23. Astros players Michael Bourn and Wesley Wright presented Washington with an official Astros jersey during the Reds-Astros pre-game ceremony.
Washington was a versatile athlete playing pitcher, first base and the outfield. In 1951, he joined the Marines and served in the Korean War, earning two Purple Hearts. Following his service, Washington finished his baseball career in the Chicago and Midwest League. He currently resides in Chicago and coaches little leaguers.
This past Christmas, Shane Wallace, a Texas police officer from Victoria, Texas brought joy to less fortunate kids through the Blue Santa program which provides toys, clothing and other gifts to needy children and their families at Christmas time. For his efforts he was nominated for the 2010 Major League Baseball People All-Stars Among Us volunteer recognition program and through fan voting was chosen as one of three Astros finalists.
When all the voting was complete, Shane emerged as the Astros 2010 All-Stars Among Us winner. As the team's honoree Wallace was given an all-expense paid trip to the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star game in Anaheim where he was recognized on a national stage before the July 13 game. Prior to his trip, the Astros were pleased to honor Wallace in a pre-game ceremony for serving his community in extraordinary ways.
On July 8, Recycled Baseball Items (RBI) gave back to the future when they donated $46,000 to the Astros In Action Foundation (AIAF). Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane and Astros Vice President of Foundation Development Marian Harper were on-hand to accept the grant during the Astros-Pirates pre-game ceremony. The RBI donation will benefit the newly-opened Astros Urban Youth Academy and also fund Grand Slam for Youth Baseball scholarships.
RBI is a Houston charity dedicated to assisting baseball and softball organizations by providing them with equipment and other supplies. Since its inception in 1992, RBI has provided sports equipment to 25,000 children in more than 220 organizations, youth leagues, community centers and churches throughout the area.
On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig delivered his infamous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in which he stated, "...you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." This quote is widely recognized and has provided inspiration to thousands of others affected by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or as it is also called, Lou Gehrig's disease. His speech still resonates 71 years later and once again this season, Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs proudly supported 4 ALS, an initiative that raises awareness and support for the fight against ALS.
On July 7, the Astros teamed up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to help raise awareness for the cause. That day, the Astros 4 ALS activities at Minute Maid Park included a pre-game ceremony and a ceremonial first pitch, recognizing the MDA and individuals diagnosed with ALS. Fans were also able to learn more about the disease and how they could help find a cure by visiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the Astros Community Clubhouse during the game.
In a society where the convenience of the nearest fast food location often trumps a well-rounded, home cooked meal, childhood obesity has become an epic issue. On July 7, the Astros welcomed a group of kids from the YMCA to Minute Maid Park for PLAY. PLAY - which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth - is a public awareness campaign developed in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) to combat childhood obesity. Through a series of fitness programs at all 30 MLB ballparks, PLAY was designed to encourage youth throughout the country to be active, eat right and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
The event was conducted by members of the team's training staff, Nate Lucero, head athletic trainer, and Rex Jones, assistant athletic trainer along with Astros pitcher Tim Byrdak. Astros players Bud Norris and Jason Bourgeois also attended the event and talked to the kids about living an active and healthy life.
PBATS also works with the Taylor Hooton Foundation to incorporate anti-steroid education within the PLAY campaign to generate awareness about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs. Since 2004, PBATS has conducted over 80 PLAY events inside all 30 MLB ballparks reaching thousands of children with positive messages about making smart life choices and living a more active and healthy lifestyle.
Each month, the Astros In Action Foundation and Wells Fargo honor an area citizen with the title of Hometown Hero. June's honoree was Principal Lori Garcia of Black Elementary in Aldine ISD. Despite the school's difficult surroundings, Garcia is committed to providing a safe learning environment for her 924 students. She goes the extra mile to ensure that all of her students receive a Christmas gift each year. Spearheaded by Garcia, Black Elementary was recently awarded a new playground as part of a three year Dr. Pepper/Snapple Bottling Company national project.
The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens hosted the Graduate to Go College Camp at the University of Houston from June 22-23. Throughout the two-day event, 100 local Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston teens were exposed to the collegiate experience, encouraged to graduate from high school and continue their education. A special event on June 23 included a special message from Astros infielder Geoff Blum. Blum spoke to the kids about the importance of getting a college education and taking the steps necessary to get there.
The Astros Play Green® mission is to create a positive environmental platform at Minute Maid Park, and throughout Texas. On June 23, the club continued its 2010 campaign when Play Green® Ambassador Hunter Pence and Astros staff members planted 16 trees at Wiess Park located in Houston's Galleria area. Each tree represented the total Astros home runs hit at Minute Maid Park during April and May. The Astros tree planting was executed in partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful, HLS Enterprises, Christison Landscape and Tree Town USA. Since 2008, the team has planted 172 trees around Houston.
The Houston Astros and The Methodist Hospital System worked together during the month of June on several community events including a blood drive, Berkman's Bunch and the annual Stars and Stripes event at The Methodist Hospital.
The first of two community blood drives hosted by the Astros and ARAMARK and run by The Eileen Murphree McMillin Blood Center at The Methodist Hospital was held on June 5 at Minute Maid Park. The blood drive was open to anyone 17 and older, weighing at least 110 pounds, and in generally good health. All who donated or attempted to donate received a special Astros T-shirt and the first 100 people to donate blood received a pair of tickets to a future Astros home game.
For the tenth consecutive year, Lance Berkman and The Methodist Hospital System hosted several special days at Minute Maid Park for less fortunate youth. The program gives children a chance to attend an Astros game and experience baseball in a unique way. Prior to the June 5 and June 19 games, Berkman met with children from Longpoint Baptist Church, Bay Area Homeless Services, Child Advocates of Fort Bend and Casa de Esperanza, providing them with tickets to the game, a special goodie bag and the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the Astros first baseman.
On June 22, Lance Berkman, Jeff Keppinger, Pedro Feliz and Matt Lindstrom along with Pam Gardner, Astros President of Business Operations and Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane made a special trip to The Methodist Hospital. The Astros annual visit, emceed by Hall of Famer Milo Hamilton, was a chance for the team to interact with Methodist employees, thanking them for their hard work and service in a fun, pep rally type atmosphere. Following the event the players visited with a few patients receiving treatment at the hospital.
This Father's Day, the Astros and teams all around the league focused on "keeping Dads in the game" by generating awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. The Astros In Action Foundation conducted a special Father's Day Silent Auction at Minute Maid Park on June 20.
The Astros Wives assembled Father's Day Player Packs filled with baseball and non-baseball items that had particular meaning to their husbands. Fans attending the Rangers vs. Astros silver boot series match up were able to bid on the player-specific packages. From DVDs of players' favorite movies to autographed baseball gear, each package allowed fans to walk away with a very unique gift for dad.
The auction raised $5,000 and benefited prostate cancer research at the Methodist Cancer Center.
Each year, Impact a Hero brings 40 wounded soldiers from across the country to Houston and honors them during Impact A Hero Weekend. On June 5, the team welcomed the group to the Astros vs. Cubs game. The day's activities included a pre-game visit with players and enjoying the game from premium Club level seating and suites. Impact A Hero is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, created to provide a simple mechanism for individuals and corporations to provide emotional and financial support for severely wounded/disabled War on Terror Veterans and their families.
More than 3,600 runners set out bright and early on May 29 to compete in the 8th Annual Astros in Action Foundation Race for the Pennant. The 5K Run/Walk and Junction Jack's Kids Fun Run was presented by The Methodist Hospital and the JLH Foundation, in partnership with Academy Sports + Outdoors and endorsed by Chevron Houston Marathon. Whether for a good qualifying race time or for pure enjoyment, the reason to run was all for a good cause as proceeds from the race benefited the Astros In Action Foundation.
The USATF Certified Course (Certification #05021ETM) featured a scenic route of downtown Houston. This year's Race for the Pennant course began at Minute Maid Park in front of Union Station on Crawford Street, headed towards the Elysian Viaduct, traveled back through downtown Houston and finished inside the ballpark.
Each race participant received an official race t-shirt, two free tickets to a select 2010 Astros home game and an invitation to the Post-Race Party inside Minute Maid Park. The party featured plenty of food and drinks and live entertainment was provided by "Last Train Out." Special guests included Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, mascot Junction Jack and his friends, along with the Coca-Cola Park Patrol. An awards presentation was held at the Post-Race Party and a few lucky guests won door prizes.
In addition to presenting sponsor The Methodist Hospital and the JLH Foundation, the Astros In Action Foundation received Race for the Pennant sponsorship assistance from community partners: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Chevron Houston Marathon, ARAMARK, Buffalo Specialties, Inc., Minute Maid, Coca-Cola, Continental Airlines, FS Houston, Newsradio 740 AM KTRH, Precision Graphics Centers, Sysco Houston Inc., Mliepins Graphics Company, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Whataburger, Last Train Out, and Hilton Americas Houston.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros Home Sweet Home program welcomes a small group of recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes watching Astros batting practice from the field. The group enjoys the game from a suite and is introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of God Bless America on the field. During May the Astros partnered with the USO (May 23) and Ellington Joint Reserve Base (May 9).
Kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston participated in the Powerade Play Clinic on May 22. Held at the newly-opened Houston Astros Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park, 50 kids received instruction from Astros pitcher Jeff Fulchino, outfielder Cory Sullivan and Astros great, Jose Cruz along with former professional baseball player Mike Harris and Miracles Baseball Academy. The clinic focused on fundamental baseball skills - base running, hitting, throwing and fielding. The players engaged in a question and answer session and signed autographs at the end of the clinic. Each child received two tickets to the Astros-Rays game that night.
The 2010 Play Green® campaign continued with two back to back events in May. On May 20, the Astros and FOX Sports Houston (FSH) spent the day helping to build a Habitat for Humanity home with numerous green features located in Umland Park, a 126-home Houston Habitat for Humanity subdivision just south of the Texas Medical Center. The Astros and FSH employees worked on the home and were joined by Astros infielder and Play Green® Ambassador Geoff Blum and FSH broadcasters Bill Brown and Patti Smith.
Play Green® ambassador Hunter Pence visited second and third grade students at Rusk Elementary School the following day (May 21). A magnet school located just blocks from Minute Maid Park, the Rusk Elementary "Green Team" launched numerous green activities this year including a school-wide recycling program and a new vegetable garden. Pence's visit rewarded the kids for their Earth-friendly efforts and while there, he read Miss Fox's Class Goes Green, presented the kids with their own autographed copy of the book along with Play Green® baseball caps and tickets to the Astros vs. Rays game that night. Rusk Elementary was the Grand Prize winner in the Astros Greenest Classroom online contest. The group was recognized during a pre-game ceremony prior to the Astros vs. Rays contest.
As a part of the Astros/Whataburger Fielder's Choice school program, on May 7 players and broadcasters visited four area schools to deliver important messages about making the right choices. Each year, students are asked to submit essays, in 500 words or less, that speak to the importance of making good decisions. This year's four winning schools along with visiting players and broadcasters included: Matt Lindstrom and Brett Dolan - Deer Park Junior High School (Deer Park ISD); Brian Moehler and Dave Raymond - Kings Manor Elementary School (New Caney ISD); Tim Byrdak and Alex Trevino - Michael Kennedy Elementary School (Alief ISD) and Felipe Paulino and Francisco Romero - Pyburn Elementary School (Galena Park ISD). This annual event, which sends Astros players, staff and broadcasters into schools throughout Houston to talk with students, is the result of a partnership between the Astros and Whataburger Restaurants. In addition to the unique visit, each school received 500 tickets to an Astros game, and students also received a special certificate and coupon from Whataburger.
On May 6 the Astros hosted the Reliant Energy Home Run Derby. Once a year, the Houston Texans step into the batting cage at Minute Maid Park for a friendly competition amongst themselves in order to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. Each home run hit produced a $500 donation from Reliant Energy and additional targets set up around the outfield raised the stakes with values ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Texans player participating this year included David Anderson, Dominique Barber, Duane Brown, James Casey, Zac Diles, Chris Myers, Dan Orlovsky, Matt Schaub, Kasey Studdard and Eric Winston. The event raised $31,700.
The Houston Astros kicked off the team's annual Pink in the Park campaign to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research with the Pink In The Park Brunch and Bazaar presented by Minute Maid on April 29. Held in Union Station, the campaign's signature affair, raised funds for The Methodist Cancer Center and the Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen For The Cure.
Hosted by Honorary Chairs Cara and Cynthia Berkman, the brunch and bazaar featured members of the Astros team, their wives and mothers. The bazaar, sponsored by Team Scotti, opened prior to the brunch giving fashion lovers and supporters alike the perfect opportunity to find a priceless Mother's Day gift. A portion of the proceeds from sales at the bazaar also benefited breast cancer research. Immediately following the brunch, players mixed and mingled with supporters during a VIP reception sponsored by Kraft Foods. Linda Sampson, Nelly Quintero, Carrie Bourn and Ellie Towles all joined their sons at the event. Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton served as Master of Ceremonies.
To further support breast cancer awareness and research the Astros In Action Foundation hosted the first-ever Pink In The Park Tee Time Ladies Golf Outing presented by Minute Maid. This "women-only" affair was held at Redstone Golf Club, Members Course on May 3.
Fans also noticed a decidedly pink environment when visiting the ballpark from May 3-9. Pink ribbons were displayed throughout the ballpark, on dugout tops, on the train, on banners and signs and the Astros star on the wall behind home plate was pink. Pink giveaways during the week included a pink Astros cap courtesy of AT&T; a pink tote bag sponsored by The Methodist Hospital System and a pink Astros tee shirt provided by Kraft and H-E-B on Mother's Day.
The Astros teamed up with the Houston Food Bank, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), Houston Chapter, Campbell Soup Company and Kroger and hosted a hunger relief event at Minute Maid Park. On April 28, an oversized exhibit using 480 cases or 5,760 cans of Campbell's soup spelled out the word "HUNGER" along Texas Avenue.
In an effort to bring awareness to Stamp Out Hunger, the nation's largest one-day food drive fans had the opportunity to help hunger vanish by purchasing a case of soup (12 cans) for $5. Once a case was purchased, it was removed from the display and transferred to a Houston Food Bank truck until ultimately, the word "HUNGER" no longer existed. Fans also had the opportunity to make cash or canned food donations at the Union Station, South Home Plate, Diamond Club and Right Field entrances at the Astros contest against the Reds.
Now in its 18th year, the Stamp Out Hunger effort is the nation's largest single-day food drive benefiting hunger-relief organizations across the country, including the Houston Food Bank. This year, the nation-wide food drive took place on May 8, with the support of the NALC, Houston Chapter, Campbell Soup Company, Kroger, Houston Chronicle and United States Postal Service (USPS).
Several current and former Astros players participated in the Fifth Annual Tommy Bahama Island Cowboy Classic Golf Tournament, held on April 26 at the Woodlands Country Club. Proceeds from the tournament benefited the Astros In Action Foundation and the Woodlands Shooting Stars Special Olympics. Current Astros that took to the links included Bud Norris, Jeff Keppinger, Brandon Lyon and Tim Byrdak along with coaches Sean Berry and Jamie Quirk. Also teeing up were former Astros Jeff Bagwell, Larry Dierker, Enos Cabell and Jim Deshaies. Broadcasters Bill Brown and Dave Raymond played as well.
The Astros made a pitch for Houston youth by hosting the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) Equipment Drive on April 25. Fans were asked to bring new or gently used gloves, bats, tees, helmets, baseballs and softballs to the game. All donated equipment was given to the Council of Houston Inner-City Little Leagues. They also received a $5,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund for the purchase of new equipment.
BTF is a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association that funds programs, fields and equipment purchases for youth baseball in the United States, Canada and throughout the world. Furthering the mission for all those that want to play but for various reasons are without the resources, Baseball Tomorrow Fund collaborates with Major League teams throughout the season giving kids the chance to play and enjoy the game of baseball.
On Sunday home games, the Astros host a small group of recently returning military members and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes an intimate meeting with a few Astros players before the game. The group watches the game from a suite and is introduced during the seventh inning stretch, prior to singing "God Bless America". On April 25 the Astros welcomed a group of returning military from Veteran Outdoors who had the opportunity to meet Lance Berkman, Tim Bydrak, Jeff Fulchino, Jeff Keppinger, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Cory Sullivan, and former player Doug Brocail
The Astros welcomed a group of 60 Sunshine Kids, an organization that provides positive group activities and emotional support to young cancer patients and their families, on April 24, for a pre-game meet-and-greet with players. Sharing timeless memories and moments, the Astros and the Sunshine Kids have formed a very special bond over the past 17 years.
Several Astros visiting with the families included owner Drayton McLane, manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Sean Berry, Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Matt Lindstrom, Jeff Keppinger, Jason Michaels, J.R. Towles, Chris Johnson, Jeff Fulchino, Tommy Manzella, Chris Sampson, Humberto Quintero, Wilton Lopez, Pedro Feliz and Cory Sullivan.
The Iceland Volcano eruption interrupted the flight plans of thousands. On April 17, traveling from Costa Rica to the UK, a group of 13 Girl Guides arrived in Houston at Bush Intercontinental Airport to change planes. What was to be a short flight change, turned out to be Houston adventure with a memorable experience at Minute Maid Park.
On April 23, the club hosted the Girl Guides, the UK's version of the Girl Scouts, at the Astros vs. Pirates game. The group watched Astros batting practice from the field and enjoyed their first Major League Baseball game. The team donated tickets to the Girl Guides as well as to a large contingent from the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, who assisted the group during their stay in Houston.
On April 22, the Houston Astros celebrated Earth Day with two community projects focused on cultivating educational, safe and fun outdoor environments for kids and their local communities.
The Houston Astros 2010 season-long Play Green® campaign kicked off when Astros and FOX Sports Houston staffs worked in the Westbury Community Garden located at 12691 Dunlap Street. The staffs were joined by Astros Play Green® Ambassador, Geoff Blum, FOX Sports Houston broadcasters Jim Deshaies, Bill Brown and Patti Smith and a Foerster Elementary School second grade class. The morning was spent working several garden beds - adding soil, fertilizing, and planting seeds - planting blackberry bushes, and constructing a compost area.
The Westbury Community Garden project utilizes a seven-acre parcel of land to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the Westbury residents and surrounding communities. In addition to the garden beds, plans include shade and fruit trees, arbors of flowering vines, a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and insects, and benches and other seating areas.
The Astros In Action Foundation and Minute Maid also dedicated the newly-refurbished Columbo Field and Buccaneer Field in Galveston. These fields were the eighth and ninth to be refurbished by the Astros and Minute Maid through Grand Slam for Youth Baseball - a community outreach effort that seeks to foster self-confidence, involvement, teamwork and fun among area children. Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane, General Manager Ed Wade, GSFYB Ambassadors Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and former player Jimmy Wynn took part in the ceremony. Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton served as emcee.
Hurricane Ike significantly damaged these two fields and Grand Slam for Youth Baseball (GSFYB), a partnership between the Houston Astros and Minute Maid, restored them to full operation. Island Little League's Columbo Field received field turf reconditioning and repairs, infield reconditioning, a dugout-to-dugout warning track, re-worked batting cages and a new electronic scoreboard. Galveston West-Isle Little League's Buccaneer Field received the same repairs plus the replacement of the original on-field concrete walkway with warning track material.
Started in 2008, the Astros Play Green® mission is to create a positive environmental platform at Minute Maid Park and throughout Texas through a commitment to Earth-friendly efforts to enhance the quality of life for Astros fans. On Earth Day 2010, the Astros double play helped make two communities a better place to live.
April 19 was "Astros Day" at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. The all-employee event celebrated the start of the 2010 baseball season. Bud Norris went out to the hospital and visited with employees and signed autographs. Junction Jack and the Park Patrol also participated in the festivities.
On Sunday home games, the Astros host a small group of recently returning military members and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes an intimate meeting with a few Astros players before the game. The group watches the game from a suite and is introduced during the seventh inning stretch, prior to singing "God Bless America". On April 11 the Astros welcomed a group of returning military from the USO who had the chance to meet Brian Moehler, Hunter Pence, Sean Berry, Ed Wade, and Drayton McLane.
The Houston Astros hosted Lemonade Day registrations at Minute Maid Park on April 9 and 11. Astros legend Jeff Bagwell is the spokesman for the program and he signed autographs each day for kids that registered for Lemonade Day.
Lemonade Day was on Sunday, May 2 and was a community-wide event sponsored by Prepared 4 Life (P4L) that teaches kids the skills they need to be successful by encouraging them to start, own and operate their own lemonade stands. Youth learn to set goals, develop a business plan, establish a budget, seek investors, provide customer service, and give back to the community.
P4L, which launched the first Lemonade Day on May 6, 2007, is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation that helps prepare youth for life through fun, proactive and experiential programs infused with life skills, character education and entrepreneurship.
The Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park officially opened on April 10 and it provides year-round, free baseball and softball instruction to local youth ages 7-17. Representatives from Major League Baseball (MLB), the Houston Astros, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and other dignitaries were on-hand to welcome members of the local community to the site of the second MLB Urban Youth Academy, which is modeled after the original facility established and operating in Compton, California.
Located in north Houston, the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park features a show field; permanent seating for 500 fans, with space for an additional 1,800 fans; dugouts and lights; one auxiliary field; two little league/softball fields; and 1,500 square feet of office space and other facilities.
Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros contributed $600,000 to the construction of the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park, which equaled the contributions by both the City of Houston and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Astros sent a contingent of current and former members of the Club to the grand opening. Gold Glove outfielder and Houston native Michael Bourn was joined by Astros Manager Brad Mills and teammates Wandy Rodriguez, Tommy Manzella, JR Towles, Chris Johnson, Jeff Keppinger and Sammy Gervacio. Several former Astros greats, including Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker, Enos Cabell and JR Richard were also in attendance.
The click of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the smell of roasted peanuts, right down to the keepsake ticket stub; these things served as the backdrop to 17-year-old Ramon Avalos' Opening Day experience on April 5. Ramon's wish was to attend Opening Day at Minute Maid Park and meet the Astros. His wish was made possible through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that enriches the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through wish-granting work.
The Houston native's day began with a Minute Maid Park tour and reached a crescendo when Ramon and his family watched batting practice from the field. He met many players including Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, new Astros manager Brad Mills and one of his favorites, Hunter Pence. A dedicated Astros fan, Ramon then watched one of his other favorites, Lance Berkman, take a few cuts in the indoor batting cage and his grin went from ear-to-ear when meeting Jeff Bagwell in the Astros clubhouse. The visit continued with dinner in the award-winning FiveSeven Grille and field level seats from which the family watched the Astros Opening Day contest against the Giants.
The Astros and ARAMARK partnered with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and hosted the team's annual Opening Day Blood Drive, on April 5. All who donated or attempted to donate received a special Astros T-shirt and were entered in a drawing to win Astros tickets to a future game.
Many fans stepped to the plate on behalf of others and made the drive a success. At Minute Maid Park, 136 whole blood donations were received along with 17 double red cell donations, six red cell plasma donations and 74 brand new blood donors were registered thanks to the Opening Day drive. Fans not able to give at the ballpark could visit their neighborhood blood center, mention the Astros and receive the Astros tee and be registered for the tickets. Combining the Minute Maid Park drive and the neighborhood centers, the Opening Day blood drive resulted in 1,090 donors with 3,270 lives saved.
The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is comprised of more than 700 employees and serves more than 170 hospitals and health care institutions in the Texas Gulf Coast, Brazos Valley and East Texas regions. More than 1,000 donations are needed every day to help save the lives of individuals in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
The season kicked off with a 2010 Astros preview at FanFest, the team's annual baseball festival benefiting the Astros In Action Foundation. The event was in conjunction with the Astros and Blue Jays exhibition games at Minute Maid Park April 2-3.
Fans met with current and former Astros as well as coaches at eight autograph sessions located throughout the main concourse. New additions to the 2010 squad, Brad Mills, Matt Lindstrom, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz, along with returning fan-favorites Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn were just a few of the players that interacted with fans at Saturday's sessions. Former players Kevin Bass, Bill Heath, John Hudek, Shane Reynolds, Scipio Spinks, Carl Warwick, Brian Williams, Jimmy Wynn and Eric Yelding participated in free autograph signings. Friday night featured a special autograph opportunity with Astros legend, Jeff Bagwell.
Fans sported their knowledge of the hometown team at the all new Astros trivia-style game show. Other activities included Talkin' Baseball seminars with Astros broadcasters and staff, a TRISTAR sports card and memorabilia show, a silent auction and the always popular Garage Sale of Astros promotional merchandise and "memory lane" autographed items. Kids also enjoyed face painters, clowns and interactive games while families took Easter themed photos with Junction Jack, and cousins Junction Jesse and Junction Julie.
Each year, the Astros set out to bring the best caravan experience to fans near and far during the team's annual community outreach tour. The 2010 trip visited 15 cities in just nine days paying special visits to hospitals, soldiers, schools and community centers. New in 2010, the Astros introduced the club's Multicultural Caravan, reaching fans in culturally diverse communities.
"The Astros caravan is something we have been doing for many years and every January we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to spend quality time with our fans both in Houston and throughout the region," said Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane. "We have two missions, to be a champion and to make a positive difference in the community, and the caravan is a great way to further our community outreach."
Highlighting this year's tour, Astros players, front office staff and NASA Astronauts planted 31 trees at the Sylvan Rodriguez Park located in Clear Lake, Texas as part of Astros Play Green initiative. The Astros also introduced the Team A.C.T. school assembly in which players discussed the importance of how Accountability, Choices and Trust can make their community a better place. Each day ended with the fan favorite autograph signings at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
More than 30 Astros players, alumni, coaches and front office staff set out to be champions in the community reaching thousands of fans at more than 35 stops throughout Texas.
The Houston Astros kicked off the 2010 Astros Caravan with a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 18. Astros Wesley Wright, Enos Cabell and Jimmy Wynn and broadcaster Dave Raymond participated in the 16th Annual MLK Grande Parade festivities taking place in downtown Houston. Cabell, Raymond, Wright and Wynn met with fans at an autograph signing for fans at City Hall Plaza following the parade.
Later that afternoon, Aldine and Houston Independent School District baseball players attended the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy baseball clinic at MacGregor Park. Players received instruction and special pointers from Wright, MLB Urban Youth Academy instructors Ike Hampton and James Roberts and Texas Southern baseball team members. The day ended with the first of many Academy Sports + Outdoors autograph signings throughout the tour.
On January 19, Astros Wesley Wright, Geoff Blum, Pedro Feliz and broadcaster Bill Brown delivered the Astros Team A.C. T. school assembly for students at Kaufman Elementary in Spring and Lowery Elementary located in Cypress. The group ended the day with an autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Cypress.
The tour continued on January 20 as Roy Oswalt, Geoff Blum, Pedro Feliz, Craig Biggio, Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan began the day with a Team A.C.T. school visit at Ross Elementary continuing the Astros important message about being accountable, making good choices and earning trust. The Astros Play Green ® environmental program was part of this year's caravan and Oswalt, Blum, Feliz, Raymond and Dolan caught up with Astros employees and NASA Astronauts and the group planted 31 trees. The total represented the total home runs hit by the Astros at Minute Maid Park in August and September. The players were then treated to a unique tour of NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab and then they signed autographs for NASA employees. The day's activities ended with an Academy Sports + Outdoors autograph signing.
Brad Mills, Brian Moehler, Craig Biggio and Bill Brown visited one of the team's favorite spots, Brookwood Community Center, a one-of-a-kind educational, residential and entrepreneurial community for adults with developmental disabilities. Brookwood members greeted the Astros with a special pep rally and lunch at the complex. Later that afternoon, players conducted the Team A.C.T. school assembly for students at Katy Junior High School and the group along with Lance Berkman met with fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors ending the day.
Visits in Sugar Land and Pearland wrapped up week one of the 2010 caravan. Astros Brad Mills, Jeff Fulchino, Larry Dierker and Brett Dolan began the day visiting patients at The Methodist Hospital- Sugar Land. The players, joined by Felipe Paulino, traveled on to meet with baseball and softball players from Dawson and Pearland High Schools for an Astros Chalk Talk session. The event gave students a first-hand perspective of balancing life as a Major League player, their individual roads to the big league and what it takes to train and compete each season. Players signed autographs afterward.
Former player Jimmy Wynn joined the crew at the Grand Slam for Youth Baseball event at the Landsdale Community Center. As an after-school treat, the players conducted a question and answer session, signed autographs and took pictures with kids in the Alief community. The last stop was the Academy Sports + Outdoors store in Sugar Land.
On January 18, a second caravan group featuring Michael Bourn, J.R. Towles, Javier Bracamonte, Manager Brad Mills and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton ventured to Temple, Texas, the hometown of Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane. Fans were greeted with a free autograph session at Academy Sports + Outdoors to launch the three-day Temple adventure. On day two, the Caravan got an early start as the group attended a breakfast with athletes from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Additional stops included Shoemaker High School, and visits to Temple College, Temple High School and the William R. Courtney Veteran's Home. Wednesday the 20th featured visits with children receiving treatment at Scott and White Hospital, lunch at the Temple Lions Club and a free autograph session at Temple Mall. A stop at Yoe High School, McLane's alma mater, ended the tour on the third and final day.
In week two, the caravan excursion continued with Astros Bud Norris, Matt Lindstrom, Jeff Bagwell and Jim Deshaies taking the tour throughout central Texas. On January 25, players visited patients at the Waco Veterans Hospital, hosted the Team A.C.T. program at Mountainview Elementary and ended the day with a free autograph session at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Pediatric patients at the Dell Children's Hospital warmed the hearts of Norris, Lindstrom, Bagwell and Deshaies as day two of the trip began. Astros General Manager Ed Wade and Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Ricky Bennett met up with the players at the Round Rock Express Luncheon emceed by Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton. The day's events also included a private tour of the Texas state Capitol on behalf of State Senator Marion Gallegos, Jr. and a free Academy Sports + Outdoors autograph session in Austin.
On January 27, two special soldier visits at the Lackland Air Force Base and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio ended the three-day tour. Before heading back to Houston, players met with fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
The Astros 2010 Multicultural Caravan began with stops in several of Houston's culturally diverse communities. Players making the visits included Wandy Rodriguez, Felipe Paulino, Humberto Quintero, Jose Cruz, Alex Trevino and Francisco Romero. Adding a twist to this year's outreach tour, the multicultural leg gave fans the opportunity to meet the Astros who were hosting free autograph sessions at their local neighborhood Fiesta stores, Wing Stops and Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Wrapping up the 2010 tour, Hunter Pence, Jason Castro, Larry Dierker, Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Ricky Bennett, and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton traveled to Corpus Christi and Victoria. The day began with a special visit to the Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi. The club's AA affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks welcomed the Astros as special guests to the Hooks luncheon attended by local fans and sponsors. The day's events ended with a special visit to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Victoria and a free autograph session at Academy Sports + Outdoors.