1984 I went to my first Astros game and we sat behind home plate. I remember the net in the Astrodome at the time didn't go straight up, it went back over your head. I was disappointed because I wanted to get a foul ball. I don't remember if the Astros won, I think they did, but there was an Oiler football game afterwards so we stayed and watched them change the field over for awhile. I remember looking at the roof and hoping for a homerun so I could see the scoreboard go off.
1985 I was an Astros Buddy for the first time and we went to the 6 Astro Buddy games in the Dome. Mostly we sat in the Upper Deck. I went with a friend once and came back with buttons and a wooden bat.
1986 was the first time Dad and I went to opening day. Will Clark hit a homerun off Nolan Ryan and a guy with an arm cast caught it in the outfield. The '86 team will always be special because they won the pennant. Of course we all know the Game 6 of the NLCS story, the only game that has made me cry. I was young though, and I honestly thought they would be right back in the hunt of things. Game 6 still haunts me. God Bless Glenn Davis, Bill Doran, Craig Reynolds, Phil Garner, Denny Walling, Jose Cruz, Billy Hatcher, Kevin Bass, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Dave Smith, Charlie Kerfield, Bob Kneeper, Larry Anderson.
1987 - Mom utters after a little league game, "Don't worry Joel, even Jose Cruz stikes out."
1988 - the last year of Nolan Ryan as an Astro. I was so mad at our Yankee owner for letting my hero go to the ... Rangers?? Another note, a catcher made his major league debut, his name, Craig Biggio.
1989 - The Astros were in 1st place in August, but this was the last competitive team for awhile.
1991 - The Astros finished in last place this year and I must have gone to 15 games. We're in the bleachers now mostly, as I've out grown the Astros buddies. Lots of young guys on this team, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, and a guy we got from Boston, Jeff Bagwell.
1992 - The Astros are on the road for a month to accomodate the Republican Convention in the Dome. The team responds well and finish strong. My friend Brad and I try to raise money to buy the Astros by standing on the street corner with a sign that says, "Help us buy the Astros" and a bucket. We get enough for 2 slurpees and 2 candy bars.
1993 - The Astros finish ahead of the Cubs winning a $5 bet I made with a friend at the beginning of the season. Dad and I see Darrlye Kile's 1st career no hitter. I also set the record for eating 6 $1 hotdogs.
1994 - Sad season, no World Series as the Astros were on their way to a division title. Will we be back in this position again?
1997 - For the first time since 1986 the Astros are back in the playoffs. They aren't the best team, but making it to the playoffs is good enough. I remember Dad calling me at college after the clinching game.
1998 - Astros make deadline deal for Randy Johnson and win 100 games. The best Astros team? They fall to the Padres in the divisional series. I went to the first game the Big Unit pitched in the Dome and that place was rocking. He looks terrible as a batter.
1999 - The last year of the 'Dome. Astros again face playoff disappointment.
2000 - Enron Field is awesome. The Astros aren't.
2001 - I met my wife and took her to her first Astros game. She realizes that she must embrace this Astros obsession if this is going to work.
2004 - I miss the first Opening Day with Dad since 1986 because of my move to New York. The Astros are back in the playoffs again as the wildcard for the first time since 2001. The beat the Braves in the divisional round for the first playoff series win for the franchise. The go back to St. Louis with a 3-2 lead in the NLCS only to lose the next two games.
2005 - WORLD SERIES!!!
Tonight I finally get to see my team in the World Series, a moment I thought would never happen. I love it. I love this team.
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