The Astros celebrated the holidays with the first-ever ASTROrdinary Clubhouse Christmas on December 12. The team welcomed 50 first, second and third graders from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston to Minute Maid Park. The kids toured the clubhouse and gathered in the team dressing area to watch the movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Santa, Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail, and his elves - outfielder Jason Bourgeois, third baseman Chris Johnson, catcher Humberto Quintero and first base coach Bobby Meacham- joined them.
Following the movie, the group enjoyed dinner in the Diamond Club, received autographs and had their pictures taken with Santa and his elves. Courtesy of the Astros, each kid received their own special gift - an iPod shuffle, iTunes gift card and team goodies.
The Astros are proud of the team's longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Kids, an organization dedicated to providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients. On December 10, the charity hosted their annual Christmas Party at the Children's Museum of Houston. Craig Biggio and his wife, Patty, attended the festive event and shared holiday cheer with the nearly 600 patients and family members in attendance. Astros front office staff volunteered at the event assisting with pictures with Santa, arts and crafts and gift distribution.
Outfielder Jason Bourgeois is an avid supporter of Astros community initiatives and is continuing to make a difference in the Houston community this off season through his own endeavors. Bourgeois hosted the first annual Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports Celebrity Golf Tournament on November 11. Held at the Hermann Park Golf Course, 44 participants took to the links including Astros pitcher Bud Norris, Brandon Allen of the Oakland Athletics and Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Proceeds benefited the Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports, Inc., a foundation that raises funds to purchase equipment and uniforms for inner-city youth baseball programs in Houston.
On November 18, the Houston-native continued his charitable efforts joining former Astros teammate Michael Bourn serving dinners for 100 guests at the Fifth Ward Church of Christ. Bourgeois and Bourn donated funds to purchase the food.
Celebrating life's blessings of food, family and fun, the Houston Astros welcomed hard-working families to their home, Minute Maid Park, for a Feast of Thanks on November 12. The families enjoyed a Thanksgiving lunch with all the trimmings followed by games and autograph opportunities with pitcher Bud Norris and first base coach Bobby Meacham.
Each child was given an Astros goodie bag and every family received a grocery bag of food for making their own Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of ConocoPhilllips Black Employee Network and the Houston Area Urban League.
The Astros Feast of Thanks came at the beginning of national Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 12-20) and promoted the simple message that in both big and small ways, anyone can help make a difference in the effort to end hunger and homelessness in Houston.
On November 9, the Astros In Action Foundation hosted its annual Alumni Golf Classic at the Wildcat Golf Club raising nearly $60,000 for the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park.
A host of Astros Alumni attended including Bob Aspromonte, Kevin Bass, Craig Biggio, Ron Brand, Enos Cabell, Ron Cook, Jerry DaVanon, Jim Deshaies, Larry Dierker, John Edwards, Phil Garner, Bill Heath, Art Howe, John Hudek, Mike Jackson, Carl Warwick, Bob Watson, Brian Williams, Glenn Wilson, Jimmy Wynn and Anthony Young. Astros broadcasters Bill Brown, Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond enjoyed an outing on the green as well. Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton served as the awards emcee.
In October, Astros fans bid on the opportunity to have the team's mascot, Junction Jack, Trick or Treat with their kids. Mary Ella Testa was the winning bidder and Junction Jack joined a small group of kids from the Sugar Land area as they made their way through the neighborhood collecting sweet treats. The kids were dressed as a ghost, Power Ranger, Spinderella, witch, ketchup, mustard, lady bug and Luigi from Mario Brothers. Proceeds from the auction benefited the Astros In Action Foundation.
Play Green® ambassador Chris Johnson visited 50 fourth-sixth grade students at Wilson Montessori School on September 26. A Houston ISD charter school, every student is taught the value of recycling. The school spearheaded a project to raise more than $300,000 to build Wilson Wonder Ground, a park that will feature recycled material in many of the design elements. Wilson Montessori and Rice Engineering are collaborating to develop an indoor-outdoor "metalab" adjacent to the park. The lab will run on alternate energy and feature solar panels and a wind turbine giving students first-hand lessons on renewable resources.
Johnson's visit rewarded the kids for their Earth-friendly efforts and while there, he read Curious George Plants a Tree, presented the kids with their own autographed copy of the book along with tickets to that evening's game. The Houston Astros and Greenest Classroom sponsor Devon Energy recognized the students in a pregame ceremony that night.
The team's final homestand of the season featured the Second Annual Astros In Action Foundation MarketPlace on September 23-25. The event raised over $35,000 with proceeds from the event supporting the Montgomery County United Way for wildfire victims and the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy.
This three-day, weekend event included mystery autographed baseball grab bags, baseball pulls, silent auctions, a one-day garage sale and free autograph sessions with former Astros players.
Throughout the weekend, the Astros In Action Foundation conducted a food and supply drive at the entrance gates to collect non-perishable food, personal hygiene items and cash for the Montgomery County Food Bank to assist those affected by area wildfires.
For $50, fans could purchase a mystery autographed baseball grab bag that contained one autographed baseball, a certificate for two Field level tickets to a 2012 Houston Astros regular season home game and many of the bags had other prizes as well. Some of the autographed baseballs included were current players Clint Barmes, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez along with fan favorites, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.
Fans were also able to acquire an autographed baseball for only $25 at the baseball pulls. Each game, two "buckets of baseballs" with a wide variety of current and former Astros autographed baseballs were available.
Each day, the silent auctions offered a new selection of autographed items and included a few pieces of game-used equipment. A sample of the items included a 2011 team signed baseball, Carlos Lee autographed and authenticated No. 42 Jackie Robinson Day jersey worn on April 15, 2011 and a 2010 Astros Alumni Golf Classic banner autographed by all Astros alumni in attendance.
Astros Alumni met with fans during an autograph session on September 24. Former players signing were Jesse Barfield, Ryan Bowen, Jerry Davanon, Larry Dierker, Bill Greif, Bill Heath, Xavier Hernandez, Art Howe, Mike Jackson, Terry Puhl, Bill Smith, Scipio Spinks, Dickie Thon, Alex Trevino, Carl Warwick, Bob Watson, Brian Williams, Glenn Wilson, Jimmy Wynn, Eric Yelding, Anthony Young and Gerald Young.
A very popular activity, the Garage Sale returned on September 25 wrapping up the weekend fundraiser. Unique Astros mementos began at just $1.00.
During the 2011 season, the Astros welcomed military personnel and families to Minute Maid Park through the club's Home Sweet Home and On the Home Front programs. Both made possible through the Astros-USO Houston partnership, the programs are a part of the Astros military program initiative- Mission: Astros Red, White and Blue Thank You.
On September 25, the Home Sweet Home program presented by Budweiser welcomed U.S. Airmen and their family members. Guests met Astros players on the field prior to the Astros-Rockies game, watched the game from a suite and were introduced to the crowd before the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America."
Recognizing the service and sacrifice of family members, the On the Home Front program welcomed families of U.S. Marine service members serving on active duty overseas on September 23. The group enjoyed batting practice on the field and tickets were provided courtesy of the Astros. Each ticket was loaded with $15 that could be spent at the ballpark that night.
The Houston Astros celebrated the life, leadership and service of 12-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente with two community projects aimed at serving others and a special pregame ceremony.
September 15, Astros front office staff along with Spanish radio broadcasters Alex Trevino and Francisco Romero, working with the Tejano Center for Community Concerns, provided and served lunch to a group of approximately 50 elderly residents of the Nueva Vida senior citizen apartment community. The Tejano Center for Community Concerns was established in 1992 in response to social, economic, education, and housing concerns identified by neighborhood residents of the predominately Hispanic East End.
Members of Roberto Clemente's family, Osvaldo Clemente (nephew), Nilsa Clemente (niece), Kalia Clemente (grandniece) and Cynthia Clemente (grandniece) participated in the Roberto Clemente Day pregame ceremonies on September 14. The Astros celebrated Jason Bourgeois' commitment to serving the Houston community as he was one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
Bourgeois has captured Clemente's spirit by mentoring Houston area baseball and softball players through Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports, Inc. Started in 2009, his mission is to help inner city kids play baseball and to build life skills through the lessons that team sports offer. The organization is supporting a number of urban teams - East Houston Little League, South Central Sportz, North Forest Athletic Association and Junior RBI - by providing uniforms and equipment, resources Bourgeois did not always have as a kid. As important as providing the tools needed to play the game, Jason strives to provide encouragement and motivation to all players regardless of skills.
Guided by Clemente's example, the Astros hosted a food drive for the Montgomery County Food Bank September 12-14. Fans could participate by bringing canned goods or other non-perishable food with them to the games and the items along with cash donations were collected at the entrance gates. All donated food, with the help of the Houston Food Bank, was directed to the Montgomery County Food Bank to assist in that area's wildfire relief efforts.
On September 13, Craig Biggio went back to school with 12-year old Caleb Henson as part of the Astros and Whataburger "Take A Player To School" program. This past summer, fans were able to participate in an online essay contest that awarded one lucky student the opportunity to take a player to school at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. More than 950 entries were received and Caleb, a Swenke Elementary School fifth grader, was this year's winner.
Caleb's day began in grand fashion as Junction Jack, the Astros mascot, escorted him to school in a limousine. Later that afternoon, Caleb was the "big kid" on campus as Craig Biggio was his special lunch guest. Caleb ended his day at Minute Maid Park attending Astros batting practice, throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the game and watching the game from a suite.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Houston Astros honored area first responders and military personnel with activities on September 12. The days' events provided an opportunity for Astros players and fans to thank the community's public servants for their dedication to protecting others.
During the day on September 12, Jason Bourgeois (No. 11), Clint Barmes (No. 12), Matt Downs (No. 16), Carlos Lee (No. 45), Larry Dierker (No. 49) and Humberto Quintero (No. 55) visited their "adopted" firehouse and presented the firefighters with a framed, autographed jersey.
Prior to the game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Astros conducted a special ceremony honoring area heroes. Members of local police, fire, EMS and military that attended the game in uniform were invited down to the field. The Houston Fire Department Bagpipe Band performed "America the Beautiful" as heroes took the field for the pregame ceremony. In addition, one representative from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard, Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department and Houston Emergency Medical Service threw out the game's ceremonial first pitches.
Other activities included:
Silent Auction: The Astros In Action Foundation hosted a silent auction to benefit the Firefighters Foundation of Houston.
Home Sweet Home: The Astros hosted a special edition of the club's Sunday Home Sweet Home activities.
Heroes Alley: The Astros turned Conoco Alley into "Heroes Alley". Organizations and charities that support the military and first responders made information available for fans interested in learning how they could support Houston's heroes.
Again this season, Craig and Patty Biggio hosted the Sunshine Kids to a memorable baseball experience on September 6. The Biggios along with Sunshine Kids families played on the field followed by lunch in the FiveSeven Grille. The kids each received autographs from Craig and 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. The Biggios have worked closely with the Sunshine Kids for more than 20 years, making frequent visits to the Sunshine Kids House that they helped renovate; hosting monthly visits to Astros games and participating in numerous golf tournaments and galas, which have raised millions of dollars for the organization.
Each Sunday home game including September 4, the Astros and the USO work together on the team's Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. Home Sweet Home welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America."
This season, Astros shortstop Clint Barmes sponsored Clint's Crew welcoming over 120 kids to Minute Maid Park. One Friday a month, Barmes hosted a group of kids and their chaperones to a unique Astros experience. Each game, 20 attendees received a ticket to the game, $10 to spend while at the ballpark, a Clint's Crew goodie bag and they met Clint while watching batting practice from the field. September 2 was the last Clint's Crew of the season and welcomed youth from Jr. RBI.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Astros partnered with HomeAid Houston, a charitable organization of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA), to help combat homelessness. This annual initiative is tailor-made for young Astros fans and gives all fans the opportunity to support a great cause.
On display at the ballpark from mid-July to late August, was a one-of-a-kind 8' x 10' "Astros Express" playhouse modeled after Minute Maid Park's train. Playhouse amenities included a wall mounted 37" LCD TV, Sony PlayStation 3 gaming console, Apple iPod Nano with two-speaker docking station, Koolatron 28-can capacity portable refrigerator and window-unit style air conditioning. To raise funds for HomeAid Houston, fans could purchase $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win the playhouse.
The winning raffle ticket, purchased by Mike Blalock, was selected on August 21. The following homestand, the Houston Astros, Trendmaker Homes, the Greater Houston Builders Association and HomeAid Houston presented the "Astros Express" playhouse key to the Blalock Family during a pregame ceremony on August 30.
HomeAid Houston identifies long-term, stable housing for homeless care providers needing additional capacity and pairs them with GHBA builders, vendors and suppliers who donate their time, materials and labor to help build transitional homeless shelters.
Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs proudly support 4ALS, an initiative that raises awareness and support for the fight against ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), otherwise known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease".
In continuing with baseball's longstanding commitment to ALS awareness, MLB and the Houston Astros recognized the courage and strength of all those battling the disease and teamed up with the ALS Association Greater Houston Chapter on August 30. The Astros presented a commemorative 4ALS home plate signed by Astros players to the Association during a ceremony prior to the Astros-Pirates contest in recognition of the organization's tremendous efforts.
Fans could also learn more about helping to find a cure for those facing similar challenges by visiting the ALS Association Greater Houston Chapter at the Astros Community Clubhouse during the game that evening.
On August 27, the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA) conducted a free softball clinic for girls in fifth through eighth grades. Texas Southern University softball staff and players assisted with clinic instruction along with UYA staff and area coaches. Houston Mayor Annise Parker stopped by to encourage the young girls as they worked to become better players and better teammates.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO work together on the team's Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. Home Sweet Home welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." The Astros welcomed United States Marine Corps service members to the August 21 Astros-Giants game.
Astros shortstop Clint Barmes is sponsoring Clint's Crew in 2011. One Friday a month, Barmes hosts a group of kids and their chaperones to a unique Astros experience. The 20 attendees receive a ticket to the game, $10 to spend while at the ballpark, a Clint's Crew goodie bag and they meet Clint while watching batting practice from the field. Barmes treated guests from Special Olympics Texas to the special visit on August 19.
The Houston Astros Wives hosted the 22nd Annual Black Ties and Baseball Caps Gala benefitting the Houston Area Women's Center on August 18 at Minute Maid Park, raising $440,000. Chaired by Summer Barmes and Mary Catherine Melancon, the annual summer extravaganza was attended by current and former Astros players. Michelle Quintero was the 2011 auction chair and former President George H.W. and Barbara Bush served as the gala's honorary chairs. Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton emceed the signature event. Impressionist and voice actor Rich Little entertained gala attendees.
Themed a "Night of New Beginnings", the event drew over 400 guests supporting the Houston Area Women's Center's efforts to help individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence. Some of the wives, players and coaches supporting the endeavor included: Jose Altuve, Clint Barmes and his wife Summer, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, Matt Downs and his wife, Leah, Carlos and Mary Lee, Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez, Mark Melancon and his wife, Mary Catherine, Jason and Pamela Michaels, Bud Norris, Jimmy Paredes, Humberto Quintero and his wife, Michelle, Wandy and Luz Rodriguez, Angel and Meshell Sanchez, along with manager Brad Mills and his wife, Ronda. Astros President, Business Operations Pam Gardner, President, Baseball Operations Tal Smith and his wife Jonnie, General Manager Ed Wade and his wife, Roxanne attended the gala along with former Astros players Larry Dierker and his wife, Judy, and Jimmy and Marie Wynn.
Black Ties and Baseball Caps was generously underwritten by: Air Liquide, ARAMARK, Beverly Wren and Greg Miller, Brenner's Steakhouse On the Bayou, Cherie and John Lindley, ConocoPhillips, Consolidated Graphics, Crane Capital Group, Inc., DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, Engineering Partners International, Inc., ExxonMobil, Houston Astros, Houston Magazine, Lewis Jewelers, Logan Goodson Design, Macy's, Precision Graphics Center, Roberts Development/Construction, Inc., Sprinkles Cupcakes, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sybil Roos and United Airlines.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO work together on the team's Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. Home Sweet Home welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. 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 7, the Astros welcomed United States Marine Corps service members.
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds and more than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. On August 6, 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 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 25 donors received two tickets for a future Astros home game. The August 6 drive drew 60 people who donated or attempted to donate blood.
New in 2011, the Astros and the USO work together to host On The Home Front, sponsored by Gallery Furniture. One Friday a month, the Astros welcome several military families that have a loved one serving away from home to a special Astros experience that includes a batting practice visit and tickets to the game. On August 5, each participant's ticket to the Astros-Brewers game was loaded with $15 that could be spent at most concession and retail stands at Minute Maid Park.
Astros Buddies Kids Club members were invited to meet Astros players at the 2011 members-only autograph party on August 5. In addition to autograph opportunities, kids could visit the Astros dugout and take part in various games and activities.
Players signing autographs were infielders Jose Altuve, Clint Barmes, Matt Downs and Jimmy Paredes; pitchers Jordan Lyles and Mark Melancon along with catchers Carlos Corporan and Humberto Quintero.
Kids could enjoy several games and activities along the main concourse including a bungee run, a 5-in-1 combination play area, a dual-slide as well as face painting, wax hands and spin art.
Designed for the team's youngest fans, the Coca-Cola Astros Buddies Kids Club offers many exclusive benefits for kids 14 and under each season. The 2011 club benefits include four free Astros tickets ($64 value) on pre-selected Buddies game dates, an insulated lunch bag, the 2011 Astros Buddies Kids Club collectible baseball cap, admission to the members-only autograph party at Minute Maid Park, an opportunity to win autographed baseballs in monthly drawings, the chance to "work" for the Astros during the Buddies Behind-The-Scenes Day on June 25, front-of-the-line privileges for Run The Bases and two newsletters.
In advance of the Astros Wives Black Ties and Baseball Caps gala on August 18, several wives and players appeared at Sprinkles Houston on August 5 to raise awareness and funds for the Houston Area Women's Center. Clint and Summer Barmes, Mark and Mary Catherine Melancon, and Humberto and Michelle Quintero served cupcakes to fans kicking off the sale of special Astros Red Velvet cupcakes. All proceeds from the sale of the Astros cupcakes from August 5 - 12 benefited the Houston Area Women's Center.
This summer, Jimmy Wynn teamed up with Astros outfielder Jason Bourgeois and Houston's 97.9 The Box DJ Madd Hatta to host the Born to Wynn Youth Leadership Program at the Houston Astros Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, August 1-3.
During this three-day program, kids learned leadership skills focusing on confidence, diligence, execution and motivation. Furthering the Astros MLB UYA mission to teach various aspects of baseball to youth, each general session was followed by daily breakout sessions in sports broadcasting, media relations, marketing, ballpark entertainment and athletic instruction led by Astros front office staff.
The program, centered on core baseball and life skills, creatively couples the Major League Baseball experiences of players and teaches leadership through relevant and practical subject matters. The kids were actively engaged and challenged to grow and develop using the skills and lessons taught within the program.
Teaching leadership through baseball, the program incorporated personal assessments, character training and practical application in a classroom setting. On day one, kids were introduced to specific leadership qualities focusing on attitude, character, excellence and knowledge. Day two stressed the importance of diligence and hard work. On the third and final day, kids learned how to set their goals step-by-step, developing a road map and tools to succeed.
Each participant received a student booklet, T-shirt, poster, certificate of completion, Astros baseball cap, Jimmy Wynn figurine and an autographed baseball signed by Bourgeois and Wynn. On August 6, kids participating in the program were recognized during an on-field ceremony at Minute Maid Park before the Astros-Brewers game with Wynn, Bourgeois and Madd Hatta on-hand.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago. To help reverse this growing problem, the Astros welcomed a group of 50 kids from the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy to Minute Maid Park for PLAY on July 18.
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 encourages youth throughout the country to be active, eat right and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Conducted by members of the team's training staff, Nate Lucero, head athletic trainer, and Rex Jones, assistant athletic trainer, kids were led through a series of four stations that addressed being active through proper athletic training, sustaining healthy lifestyles with proper nutrition and the dangers of performance enhancing drugs. PBATS 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.
Astros players Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace also attended the event and helped reinforce the message to kids about living an active and healthy life. Following the event, the group enjoyed a healthy lunch in the FiveSeven Grille at Minute Maid Park.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO work together on the team's Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. Home Sweet Home welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." The Astros welcomed U.S. Army Soldiers to the July 17 game against the Pirates.
This season, the Astros welcomed many Sunshine Kids and their family members to special pre-game visits with players and coaches. On July 16, the third and final meet and greet, the team spent time with the group taking pictures and signing autographs.
Players and coaches visiting were Brian Bogusevic, Javier Bracamonte, Doug Brocail, David Carpenter, Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Enerio Del Rosario, Jordan Lyles, Mark Melancon, Jason Michaels, Fernando Rodriguez, Angel Sanchez, and Humberto Quintero.
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. 2011 marks the 17th season the Astros have partnered with the Sunshine Kids.
On July 15, Astros shortstop Clint Barmes continued his Clint's Crew meet and greet program and invited kids from Boys and Girls Harbor. One Friday a month, Barmes treats a group of kids and their chaperones to a unique Astros experience. The 20 attendees receive a ticket to the game, $10 to spend while at the ballpark, a Clint's Crew goodie bag and they meet Clint while watching batting practice from the field.
Boys and Girls Harbor seeks to provide healthy, comprehensive care for children and families in crisis. Through its programs, the Harbor strives to help children learn to overcome self-destructive patterns, break cycles of abuse, develop social skills, learn responsibility, and work towards becoming healthy, happy and productive members of society.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO work together on the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." The Astros welcomed U.S. Air Force members to the July 3 game against the Red Sox.
The Astros, ARAMARK and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center blood drive drew 60 donations at Minute Maid Park on July 2. Anyone that donated or attempted to donate received a special Astros T-shirt and was entered into a drawing for tickets to a future Astros game. The process took less than an hour and one donation could save up to three lives.
The Astros welcomed a small group of military families to the July 1 Astros-Red Sox game. New in 2011, On the Home Front is an Astros-USO partnership presented by Gallery Furniture. One Friday a month, the Astros welcome several military families that have a loved one serving away from home to a special Astros experience that includes a batting practice visit and tickets to the game. Each participant's ticket is loaded with $15 that can be spent at most concession and retail stands at Minute Maid Park.
On June 30, Astros staff along with Chris Johnson, one of the team's Play Green® Ambassadors, planted 20 trees at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy. Each tree represented an Astros home run hit at Minute Maid Park during April, May and part of June. The Astros tree planting is in partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful, HLS Enterprises, Christison Landscape and Tree Town USA.
In June, the Houston Astros partnered with The Methodist Hospital System to host two community events to promote healthy living and recognize the hospital's employees for their excellence.
On June 29, Michael Bourn, Chris Johnson and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton made a special trip to The Methodist Hospital. The Astros annual visit is a chance for the team to interact with Methodist employees, thanking them for their hard work and service. Following the meet and greet with employees, the players visited with a few patients who were receiving treatment at the hospital.
On June 25, The Methodist Hospital System hosted a free men's health expo in Union Station at Minute Maid Park for men age 45 and older. The expo, which served over 500 attendees, offered free men's health screenings, flexibility tests, massages and more.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros host the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." The program honored the Wounded Warrior Project on June 26.
The Coca-Cola Astros Buddies Kids Club is the team's exclusive fan club for kids 14 and under. Each year, members are invited to register to win the chance to "work" for the Astros at Buddies Behind-The-Scenes Day. On June 25, 14 lucky members were chosen to learn more about the front office aspects of the game and were mentored by current team employees. Buddies members worked as groundskeepers, park patrol staff, broadcasters and participated in other game-day operations. In addition, eight Buddies members won the opportunity to "take the field" as Astros players. Each of these kids took their position on the field right before the National Anthem and were joined by the Astros player that was starting at their position. The Buddies got an autograph from that player and watched the game from their seats as "honorary players".
Each Astros Buddies member working at Buddies Behind-The-Scenes Day also received four tickets to the game.
Kids First Call: Brayden M., 4 (Crosby, TX)
Junction Jack, Jr.: Ricky P., 5 (Lake Charles, LA)
Pre-Game Coordinator: Luke W. 7 (Cypress, TX)
Grounds Crew: Cade G., 8, (Tomball, TX) and Josh W., 8 (Missouri City, TX)
Park Patrol: Macy K., 9 (Lake Jackson, TX) and Patrick H., 10 (Kingwood, TX)
First Pitch: Blake H., 10 (Pearland, TX)
Scoreboard Control: Brandon W., 11 (Missouri City, TX)
Spanish Radio Broadcaster: Sebastian C., 11 (Spring, TX)
PA Announcer: Gabriella R., 12 (Spring, TX)
English Radio Broadcaster: Joel T., 13 (Cypress, TX)
English TV Broadcaster: James T., 13 (Crosby, TX)
Spanish Print Reporter: Michael R., 14 (Houston, TX)
C - Dylan S., 5 (Huffman, TX)
1B - Kade C., 6 (Katy, TX)
2B - Jack S., 8 (Magnolia, TX)
3B - Molly M., 6 (Houston, TX)
SS - Jade M., 6 (Houston, TX)
LF - Kaylie K., 8 (Lufkin, TX)
CF - Sean F., 9 (Cypress, TX)
RF - Coltin B., 10 (Houston, TX)
Astros shortstop Clint Barmes is providing a special baseball experience by sponsoring Clint's Crew, inviting groups to Minute Maid Park one Friday a month. On June 24, Clint welcomed kids and their chaperones from Special Olympics Texas. The 20 guests received a ticket to the game, $10 to spend while at the ballpark, a Clint's Crew goodie bag and they met Clint while watching batting practice from the field.
Youth baseball and softball players will now have the opportunity to practice their hitting techniques year-round in the newly dedicated Jimmy Wynn Training Center at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy, dedicated on June 24. Civic and community leaders including State Senator John Whitmire and State Representative Sylvester Turner attended the event. Representing the Astros were the club's Grand Slam for Youth Baseball (GSFYB) ambassadors Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence along with Astros manager Brad Mills.
The new facility is possible because of the Grand Slam for Youth Baseball field refurbishment program. Minute Maid and the Houston Astros teamed up in August 2002 to create GSFYB, a community outreach program designed to make it easier for boys and girls to play, learn about and experience baseball. The program, which seeks to foster self-confidence, involvement, teamwork and fun among area children, is composed of four key elements:
Named after fan-favorite Jimmy Wynn, an ambassador for GSFYB for the past six years, the $500,000 facility is the 2011 GSFYB field project. The 4,341 square foot indoor facility, outfitted with batting cages and a practice mound, will be used for a variety of indoor fitness and skills training. The training center floor is covered wall - to - wall with artificial turf and features:
The Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA) offers year-round baseball and softball instruction, educational seminars and after-school programs for kids ages 7-17. This summer, the Astros MLB UYA hosted several baseball/softball camps and various league games.
The Academy's summer session began with a six-week program of baseball/softball camps supported by Powerade on June 4. The UYA staff instructed 100 children ages 7-17 each week in baseball/softball fundamentals, terminology and the history of the game. In addition, campers received motivational visits from both current and former Houston Astros players as well as other prominent individuals from the area.
On June 10, the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau and the Houston Astros partnered to conduct the Inner City Invitational Baseball Tryout at the Astros MLB UYA. In the first-ever tryout camp exclusive to Houston inner city high school athletes, players attending the tryouts represented Houston, Aldine, Fort Bend, North Forest, Galveston and LaMarque Independent School Districts.
The following week on June 16, the Academy and the Houston Astros Scouting Department hosted the Houston Astros Open Tryout for players age 18 and older.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros host the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This program welcomes a small group of active, recently returned military personnel and their guests to a special Astros experience that includes a player meet and greet. They watch the game from a suite and are introduced to the crowd prior to the seventh inning singing of "God Bless America." On June 12, the Astros collaborated with Veteran Outdoors.
Astros fans were able purchase a unique gift for dad during a special Father's Day auction at Minute Maid Park on June 12. Conducted by the Astros In Action Foundation, the event coincided with Major League Baseball's partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation as the league continues its efforts to fight the disease.
Located in Conoco Home Run Alley on the main concourse, Father's Day Player Packs, assembled by the Astros Wives, were filled with baseball and non-baseball items with particular meaning to their husbands. From DVDs of players' favorite movies to autographed baseball gear, each player-specific package allowed fans to walk away with a one-of-kind gift for dad.
The Carlos Lee pack was filled with Astros memorabilia signed by Lee and a $150 Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse gift card. Mark Melancon's barbecue-themed pack offered the perfect essentials for an afternoon on the grill. The Melancon package featured a Jim Beam branding iron, a Mr. Bar BQ non-stick grilling skillet, a grill cleaning brush and shaker basket along with two hand-painted margarita glasses and margarita frozen cocktails mix. Appealing to the gamer in dad, the Angel Sanchez pack consisted of a 160GB PlayStation 3 - Special Call of Duty: Black Ops edition gaming system, Call of Duty: Black Ops PlayStation game a GamerPro magazine and Transformers Two-Movie Mega Blu-ray collection.
Other player packs available for bid included Clint Barmes, Jeff Fulchino, Bobby Meacham, Brad Mills, Humberto Quintero, and J.R. Towles.
All proceeds from the auction benefited prostate cancer research at the Methodist Cancer Center.
Several Astros players visited with a group of 60 guests from the Sunshine Kids before the Astros-Braves game on June 11. 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.
Astros visiting the group included: former player Craig Biggio, Javier Bracamonte, Jason Castro, Matt Downs, Sergio Escalona, Jeff Keppinger, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Fernando Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez and Angel Sanchez.
One Friday a month, the Astros and the USO are working together to host On the Home Front, presented by Gallery Furniture. On June 10, the Astros welcomed several military families that have a loved one serving away from home to a special Astros experience that included a batting practice visit and tickets to the game. Each participant's ticket was loaded with $15 that could be spent at most concession and retail stands at Minute Maid Park.
On June 9, the Astros made a special visit to pediatric oncology patients at Texas Children's Hospital. Matt Downs, Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez and Brett Wallace went room to room and delivered teddy bears dressed in Astros t-shirts that they autographed. Following the room visits, they painted baseballs with the kids.
Texas Children's Hospital is an internationally recognized full-care pediatric hospital located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. One of the largest pediatric hospitals in the United States, Texas Children's Hospital is dedicated to providing the finest possible pediatric patient care, education and research.
Astros fans were again invited to race to their own finish line by participating in the Ninth Annual Astros In Action Foundation Race for the Pennant. Held on May 30, Memorial Day, the 5K Run/Walk and Junction Jack's Kids Fun Run raised funds for the Astros In Action Foundation.
This year's Race for the Pennant USATF Certified Course began at Minute Maid Park in front of Union Station on Crawford Street, headed towards the Elysian Viaduct, traveled back through downtown Houston on La Branch Street, and finished inside the ballpark.
From beginners to advanced, runners of all ages competed in many age categories. The first overall male and female runners in the 5K run each received two round-trip coach class airline tickets on United Airlines. Awards were also given to the first - third place male and female finishers in each age category. All kids participating in the non-competitive Junction Jack's Kids Fun Run received medals.
Race participants received an official race t-shirt, two free tickets to a select 2011 Astros home game and an invitation to the Post-Race Party inside Minute Maid Park. The party immediately followed the race and featured food, drinks and live entertainment provided by Disowned.
In addition to presenting sponsors 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, ARAMARK, Coca-Cola, Disowned, H-E-B, Hilton Americas-Houston, Houston Marathon Committee, KTRH, Minute Maid, My Fit Foods, Shipley's Do-Nuts, Silver Eagle Distributors, Sysco Houston, Inc., Texas Army National Guard, United Airlines, Whataburger and www.yoursportingimage.com.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO are working together on the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This 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 May 29, the program welcomed National Guard service members.
This spring, more than 600,000 children between the ages of seven and 14 participated nationwide in Major League Baseball's free Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) program. Before the May 29 Astros game, the top 24 baseball and softball qualifiers from the Gulf Coast Region, including Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, competed at Minute Maid Park in hopes of advancing to the national finals at the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Phoenix, Ariz.
2011 Gulf Coast Region Winners:
7 and 8 year-old boys: Ethan Acosta - Orange, Grove, TX
7 and 8 year-old girls: Cristable Martinez - Eagle Pass, TX
9 and 10 year-old boys: Michael Gresham - Beaumont, TX
9 and 10 year-old girls: Alyssa Miller - Spring, TX
11 and 12 year-old boys: Tyler Robinson-Stovall - Starkville, MS
11 and 12 year-old girls: Corie Tunnell - Gatesville, TX
13 and 14 year-old boys: Jeremy Arriaga - Rosenburg, TX
13 and 14 year-old girls: Jocee Bennett - Cuero, TX
PHR provides an integrated competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball and softball skills - pitching, hitting and running abilities. Participants pitch to a strike zone target from 35 feet for the girls and 45 feet for the boys, hit off a tee for distance and accuracy and race in a timed sprint from second base to home plate.
Participants proceed through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level, continuing through sectionals, then to the team competitions held at Major League ballparks where they have the opportunity to advance to the finals.
Local competitions took place from late March through mid-May, with the winners advancing to sectionals in late May. Team championships were held in late May through the month of June. The 2011 program culminates with the national finals at the All-Star game.
On May 28, the Astros once again welcomed a group of 60 people from the Sunshine Kids to Minute Maid Park for a pre-game meet and greet with Astros players and coaches. Sharing timeless memories, 2011 marks the 18th year of the Astros-Sunshine Kids bond. 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.
Several Astros players visiting the group included: Clint Barmes, former player Craig Biggio, Michael Bourn, Jason Castro, Matt Downs, Mark Melancon, Jason Michaels, Hunter Pence and Brett Wallace.
Astros shortstop Clint Barmes, is making the most of the platform that baseball provides by sponsoring Clint's Crew in 2011. One Friday a month, Barmes is hosting a group of kids and their chaperones to a special Astros experience. The 20 attendees receive a ticket to the game, $10 to spend while at the ballpark, a Clint's Crew goodie bag and they meet Clint while watching batting practice from the field.
Clint's Crew is a positive and highly personal program that gives area youth a uniquely memorable Astros experience. On May 27, Barmes treated kids from the Houston Astros Major League Baseball (MLB) Urban Youth Academy to this special visit. The Academy offers year-round baseball and softball instruction, educational seminars and after-school programs to kids ages 7-17.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO are working together on the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This 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 May 15, the program welcomed United States Army soldiers.
In support of Major League Baseball's ongoing commitment to increasing opportunities for youth baseball and softball, the Houston Astros teamed up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) and Academy Sports + Outdoors to host an equipment collection drive on May 15 at Minute Maid Park. Fans were invited to donate new and used equipment which benefited Houston RBI.
In conjunction with the equipment drive, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awarded a $5,000 grant to Houston RBI for the purchase of new equipment. The grant was given in the name of Astros outfielder Jason Bourgeois honoring his commitment to youth baseball and softball. In recognition of the grant, Meghan Chisholm, BTF senior grant coordinator and Bourgeois presented a ceremonial check to Houston RBI during an on-field ceremony.
Prior to the Astros Baseball Tomorrow Fund Equipment Drive and as part of the Academy Sports + Outdoors grand opening in Humble, 40 youth baseball and softball players took part in a special shopping event on May 12. One team from Houston RBI and one team supported by Jason Bourgeois Youth Sports, Inc. participated and each youth player received a $100 gift card that they used to purchase new equipment.
Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) is a youth outreach program designed to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball, encourage academic participation and achievement for youth ages 13-16. The Astros continue its support of youth baseball through monetary and in-kind support to Houston RBI programs.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund promotes the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1999, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has awarded approximately 525 grants totaling more than $19 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Approximately 220,000 youth players have benefited from programs and facilities supported by the fund.
The Eileen Murphree McMillin Blood Center at The Methodist Hospital transfuses over 100,000 blood components each year. One donation can save up to three lives. 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 May 14 in the Depot located in Union Station 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 25 donors received a pair of tickets for a future Astros home game.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. To combat this statistic, the Houston Astros went pink to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research during the Astros May 9-15 homestand.
On May 13, the campaign's signature event, the Pink In The Park Brunch and Bazaar, was held in Union Station at Minute Maid Park to raise funds for The Methodist Cancer Center.
The brunch and bazaar was attended by members of the Astros team and their wives and was hosted by Honorary Chairs Elizabeth McLane and Pam Gardner, Astros president, business operations. The bazaar opened for shopping prior to the noon brunch and a portion of the proceeds from sales at the bazaar benefited The Methodist Cancer Center.
The uplifting brunch began with Astros players escorting breast cancer survivors into the event. Honorary guests of the signature event, 14 breast cancer survivors were seated at the Royal Table and their personal stories provided hope, inspiration and highlighted the successes and strides made in finding a cure. The program featured Denise Hazen, author of Treat Her Like a Princess: How to Help Your Girlfriend with Breast Cancer. Hazen, a stage three breast cancer survivor, wrote the book based on her own experience to help caregivers guide their friends through the process of breast cancer treatment.
Lisa Malosky, former sports reporter, current associate editor of Health and Fitness Sports Magazine and founder of Lisa Malosky Productions emceed the event. Malosky conducted a question and answer session with Dr. Jenny Chang, an internationally acclaimed breast cancer researcher and clinician, and Director of The Methodist Cancer Center. Additional funds were raised through a silent auction of numerous unique items.
The brunch and bazaar, produced in conjunction with In Any Event, Niki Smith, and Ellie Francisco of francisco & co., featured numerous local boutiques and unique fashion designers including A Little Eye Candy Jewelry, Itsby Bitsy Boutique, Silpada Designs, Talbot Cooley and Tres Chic. Denise Hazen also conducted a book signing at the bazaar.
Further supporting breast cancer awareness and research; the Astros In Action Foundation hosted the second annual Pink In The Park Ladies "TEE Time" Golf Outing. This "women-only" affair was a shotgun start tournament held at Redstone Golf Club, Member Course on May 16. The golf outing was followed by a luncheon and awards ceremony. Astros front office staff and players wives participated in the event.
Fans also noticed a decidedly pink environment when visiting Minute Maid Park during the May 9 homestand. Pink ribbons were on display throughout the ballpark and the Astros star on the wall behind home plate was pink.
Pink promotions and events included, on May 13, a pink tote bag to the first 10,000 fans courtesy of The Methodist Cancer Center and pink themed Friday Night Fireworks presented by Marathon Oil Corporation. May 8-14 was National Women's Health Week and to encourage women to take better care of themselves, The Methodist Hospital and the Astros hosted a Women's Health Expo that evening in Conoco Alley with free health screenings, massages and nutritional tips on leading a healthier lifestyle.
On May 14, AT&T sponsored a Chris Johnson pink bat bobblehead giveaway to the first 10,000 fans at the Astros-Mets game. The Astros also hosted the second annual Wine and Cheese Event presented by H-E-B. A Wine and Cheese game ticket included access to the event in the Union Station lobby for wine sampling, two glasses of wine, light hors d'oeurves, a wine class with representatives from Constellation Wines and a special gift. Fans were also able to bid on unique items at a silent auction to raise funds for breast cancer research.
On May 15, the Astros hosted "Pink is Fit" presented by Lifetime Fitness. Focused on women's fitness and wellness, event highlights included a Yoga/Pilates class in KBR Plaza, a health and fitness seminar and a fitness expo in Conoco Alley.
For every member serving in the United States Armed Forces, their spouses, children, parents and friends also make a priceless sacrifice. New in 2011, the Astros and the USO are working together to host On the Home Front, presented by Gallery Furniture. One Friday a month, including May 13, the Astros welcome several military families that have a loved one serving away from home to a special Astros experience that includes a batting practice visit and tickets to the game. Each participant's ticket is loaded with $15 that can be spent at most concession and retail stands at Minute Maid Park.
This season, the program will host more than 100 military family members from the Southeast Texas area.
Each Sunday home game, the Astros and the USO are working together on the Home Sweet Home program sponsored by Budweiser. This 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 May 1, the program welcomed United States Army soldiers.
The Houston Astros environmental campaign, Play Green® is one of the first comprehensive environmental programs in Major League Baseball. In its fourth year, the club kicked off this season-long program with Play Green® week (April 26-May 1) featuring multiple ecological efforts and promotions encouraging Houstonians to make conservation a part of daily life.
The campaign began with several conservation efforts at Minute Maid Park on April 26. Powered by Reliant Energy, the Astros played a "green game" at Minute Maid Park using renewable energy credits.
Located along Conoco Alley, the Play Green® Expo featured numerous companies and environmental organizations highlighting their green initiatives and providing educational information for fans interested in becoming more involved in Earth-friendly efforts. Participants included Anheuser-Busch, The John C. Freeman Weather Museum, Discovery Green, Comp-u-Cycle, Recyclebank, NuRide, We CAN Recycle, METRO, Miller Outdoor Theater, Dahill and Keep Houston Beautiful.
A staple of the team's Play Green® returned in 2011 as the team wore green Astros caps highlighting the club's green initiatives.
The campaign continued on April 27 with a Habitat for Humanity Home Build. Astros and FOX Sports Houston front office staff and Play Green® Ambassador Hunter Pence worked side-by-side to help build a green Habitat for Humanity home. Several green features included vinyl, low E, double pane windows with a sunglass tint, 5/8" roof decking with a radiant barrier coating, high rating 16 SEER, 2.5 ton cooling system with 95 AFUE furnace and the entire home was wrapped in 7/16" OSB sheathing then covered with a 3/4" sheet of Dow high-performance Energy Star rated underlayment.
In partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful, Astros staff visited the team's adopted block located less than one mile from Minute Maid Park at McKinney and St. Charles for litter cleanup on April 28. The Astros first adopted the block in 2008, and visit the site regularly to ensure its upkeep.
On April 29, the Houston Astros and Play Green® ambassador Chris Johnson took the 2011 Play Green® campaign to Heritage Elementary School and made a special visit to fifth-grade students. A La Porte ISD school, the students are actively involved in various conservation activities on their campus. In addition to recycling cans, using scrap paper, and the backs of advertisements for assignments, students keep re-usable water bottles at their desk and once a quarter they walk the grounds and the boys compete against the girls to see who can pick up the most litter. Johnson's visit rewarded the kids for their Earth-friendly efforts and while there, he read Curious George Plants a Tree, and presented the kids with their own autographed copy of the book along with tickets to that evening's game where they were recognized in an on-field ceremony.
The visit was part of the Astros Play Green® school initiative, designed to teach students at an early age about the environment and conservation to assist them in building a lifetime of responsible actions that make a positive difference. Heritage Elementary School was the Grand Prize winner in the Astros Greenest Classroom online contest. Teachers and students were invited to submit an essay that demonstrated what their classroom was doing to be green. The winning class received a special player visit, 100 tickets to the April 29 game and recognition on the field prior to the Astros-Brewers contest. Woodland Acres Elementary School in the Galena Park ISD was the First Prize winner and received 50 tickets to the April 29 game.
On May 1, this inaugural event capped off the team's week-long Play Green® celebration and gave biking enthusiasts a chance to join the organized five-mile ride from TC Jester Park in the Heights to Minute Maid Park before the team's game against the Brewers. For only $10, fans received a ticket to the game, an event packet that included a personal bib number, goodie bag filled with various "green" items and each fan participating in the event was entered into a raffle for a new bike, courtesy of Bike Barn. The Astros also offered a complimentary bike inspection at the starting location along with a bike valet at Minute Maid Park.
On April 25, the Astros took to the links at The Woodlands Country Club, Tournament Course for the Tommy Bahama Island Cowboy Classic Golf Tournament. Proceeds from the event benefited the Astros In Action Foundation and Montgomery County Special Olympics.
The all-day golf outing also included dinner, cocktails and awards. Golfers of all skill levels played in the scramble format event with current and former Astros players. A few of the celebrity participants included Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Bass, Enos Cabell, Larry Dierker, Bud Norris, Joe Inglett, Brandon Lyon, and Mark Melancon.
April 15 of every year marks the day back in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier and on April 15, the Houston Astros commemorated Jackie's milestone celebrated league-wide by all Major League Baseball clubs.
Astros uniformed personnel joined all Major League Baseball players, coaches, managers and umpires and wore the No. 42. This unified demonstration honored Robinson's influence on the game and saluted the impact his integration had on the civil rights movement.
Jackie Robinson lived by nine core values: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment, and excellence. These values are now the foundation of Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, a national Major League Baseball education program developed in conjunction with Scholastic, Inc., that teaches students the values that Jackie Robinson exhibited in life.
To reinforce this message with students throughout Houston, the team conducted the Houston Astros Breaking Barriers Essay Contest presented by Whataburger. Area schools were invited to participate in the program by submitting essays written by students in fourth through eighth grades that discussed personal stories of overcoming barriers. The Astros received 686 essays from 34 schools and from all entries four winning essays were selected as the Houston area winners. The 2011 essay winners were eighth-grader Charissa R. of C.E. King Middle School; seventh-graders Latrell S. of Cullen Middle School and Shivanki Juneja of The Honor Roll School and Rylie B., a Velasquez Elementary fourth-grader.
On April 15, these four students received a special Astros player visit to their school and while there, players and broadcasters conducted a 45-minute assembly centered on Robinson's nine values. Astros second baseman Bill Hall and broadcaster Jim Deshaies made a morning visit to C.E. King Middle School followed by a visit to the Honor Roll School from outfielder Jason Bourgeois and broadcaster Bill Brown. That afternoon, pitcher Nelson Figueroa and broadcaster Brett Dolan visited Velasquez Elementary School. The Cullen Middle School assembly rounded out the day's program with a visit from Astros center fielder Michael Bourn and broadcaster Dave Raymond.
In addition to a player visit, each school received 500 tickets to the Astros-Padres game that evening along with 500 Whataburger coupons. During the Astros Jackie Robinson Day pre-game ceremonies, the four Houston area essay winners, their teachers and principals were recognized on the field.
Other pre-game ceremonies included numerous youth from Houston RBI, Grand Slam for Youth Baseball and the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy ringing the field further emphasizing Major League Baseball and the Astros' efforts to teach the game of baseball to kids in minority and underserved communities. Nine local youth ballplayers from these organizations took the field with Astros players during the National Anthem each wearing t-shirts specially designed to represent one of Jackie's nine values taught in the Breaking Barriers program. Former Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar Nakia Davis threw a ceremonial pitch.
In addition to on-field ceremonies, the Astros celebrated Jackie Robinson Day by hosting a pre-game reception for representatives from several local organizations serving African-American communities. Special guests included former Astros players Jimmy Wynn and Enos Cabell, Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and past Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship recipient Nakia Davis. An in-game Jackie Robinson Day Expo highlighting several community organizations focused on African-American initiatives was also part of the Robinson celebration. Located along Conoco Alley, groups participating included the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy, the Houston RBI program, United Negro College Fund- Houston and the Houston Area Urban League.
The sights and sounds of baseball were part of the energetic atmosphere during FanFest at Minute Maid Park. Held April 9 and 10 during the Astros-Marlins series, the Astros In Action Foundation hosted the team's annual baseball festival that raised funds for baseball, softball and educational programs at the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy.
A full schedule of activities included appearances from current and former players, the garage sale of Astros promotional and "memory lane" autographed items, mystery grab bags, silent auctions and free kid-friendly games and activities.
April 9 featured four current player autograph sessions and fans could attend each session for a $20 donation. Players participating included Brad Mills, Bill Hall, Wandy Rodriguez and J.R. Towles (Session 1); Clint Barmes, Michael Bourn, JA Happ and Chris Johnson (Session 2); Jason Michaels, Hunter Pence, Humberto Quintero and Brett Wallace (Session 3); and Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Nelson Figueroa and Angel Sanchez (Session 4). Following the current player sessions, Jeff Bagwell also signed autographs for fans that made a $50 donation.
The autograph sessions continued on April 10 with former players. The sessions were free and included Ryan Bowen, Enos Cabell, Jose Cruz, Danny Coombs, Jerry Da Vanon, Larry Dierker, Bill Heath, Art Howe, Terry Puhl, Shane Reynolds, Carl Warwick, Brian Williams, Jimmy Wynn, Eric Yelding and Gerald Young.
On April 9, Talkin' Baseball sessions provided an insider's view on a variety of baseball topics. These interactive discussions included "Astros in 2011" with Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane, Tal Smith, president, baseball operations, General Manager Ed Wade and Hall of Famer Milo Hamilton serving as emcee followed by "Larry Dierker's Library".
Prior to Astros-Marlins game on April 10, Hamilton conducted "Story Time with Milo" and kids enjoyed a special reading of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat.
Proceeds from the autograph sessions, garage sale and mystery grab bags benefited the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park. In addition, in-stadium auction proceeds benefited UNICEF's relief efforts in Japan.
The Astros Opening Day Street Fest was full of food, fun and entertainment. In the midst of the lively atmosphere, the team's annual Opening Day Blood Drive drew a steady flow of donors. Hosted by the Astros, ARAMARK and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, the April 8 drive in Union Station at Minute Maid Park resulted in more than 155 donors giving the gift of life. Anyone donating or attempting to donate received a special Astros T-shirt and was entered into a drawing for tickets to a future Astros game.
The Astros granted a special Opening Day wish for 11-year-old Kendal Robinson on April 8. Kendal, his parents, and cousin enjoyed a day at Minute Maid Park that included a tour of the stadium, watching batting practice from the field, dinner in the award-winning FiveSeven Grille and Kendal assisting with the presentation of the American flag during pre-game ceremonies. The family then took in the first home game of the 2011 season from field box seats, courtesy of the team.
The Houston Astros, the Astros In Action Foundation and Major League Baseball (MLB) celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Houston Astros Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy on April 9 in grand fashion.
Representatives from MLB, the Astros, including former Astros players, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and other dignitaries were on-hand to celebrate the program's growth and many opportunities provided for Houston youth.
The anniversary celebration was part of State Representative Sylvester Turner's Family Fun Day on April 9 at Sylvester Turner Park in Acres Homes. Festivities were free, open to the public, and featured a NCAA baseball doubleheader between two historically black colleges, Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M Universities. Guests were also entertained by live performances from the Prairie View A&M University "Marching Storm" and Texas Southern University "Ocean of Soul" marching bands between games.
In addition to the baseball games, other activities included the MLB "Wanna Play?â¢" initiative, a program dedicated to youth fitness, carnival-style games, free food and drink and the chance for attendees to win family four-packs of tickets to a future Astros game.
In just its first year, the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy has registered approximately 700 athletes, conducted ten one-day baseball clinics, five week-long summer day camps and currently provides daily major league style instruction. The Academy has hosted 150 games including NCAA, high school, RBI and Jr. RBI contests. The Urban Youth Academy also offers off-field and academic opportunities and this spring, provided students with Texas Assessment of Skills tutorials in advance of area-wide testing.
In addition to baseball and softball instruction, boys and girls attending the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park can 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.
On March 26, Grand Slam For Youth Baseball (GSFYB) held its Opening Day ceremonies. Part of Opening Day included a clinic and more than 650 kids ages 4-18 learned fundamental baseball skills in the areas of base running, hitting, fielding and catching. GSFYB coaches and Texas Southern University baseball players led each session.
In addition to the skill sessions, former Astros player Jimmy Wynn and Bob Watson former Astros player, general manager and Major League Baseball vice president of rules and on-field operations shared their baseball knowledge with participants during chalk talk discussions.
GSFYB is a partnership between the Houston Astros and Minute Maid. The initiative is a four-tiered program encompassing sponsorship of the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department's Youth Baseball Program; an annual field refurbishment project; scholarship program, and fundraising opportunities for youth baseball/softball teams.
The 2011 Houston Astros Caravan toured 13 cities in 13 days traveling over 3,000 miles throughout Texas and Oklahoma City, Okla. The annual January journey included stops to schools, hospitals, military bases, community centers, luncheons and free, public autograph signings for fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors locations and gave players and broadcasters numerous opportunities to interact with fans.
The 43-stop tour featured more than 25 Astros players, broadcasters and front office personnel excited about the upcoming season and enthusiastic about meeting fans, thanking them for their continued support of the Houston franchise.
Kicking off the 2011 caravan on January 13, Astros players Brian Bogusevic, Bill Hall, and Chris Johnson along with former player Larry Dierker and broadcaster Jim Deshaies were special guests of the Northshore Middle School Reading Accountability Program pep rally. Led by Astronaut Clay Anderson, the next stop was a special afternoon field trip to NASA which included the players hosting a Bauerschlag Elementary School fifth-grade class to a behind-the-scenes tour promoting NASA's educational goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematic disciplines. After the tour, players signed autographs for NASA employees. The last stop of the day was a free, public autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
On January 14, the caravan continued with Astros Bill Hall, Hunter Pence, first base coach Bobby Meacham and broadcaster Dave Raymond making several stops in Katy. The first was a special visit to Brookwood Community Center, an annual staple of the team's tour. Brookwood Community Center is an educational, residential, and entrepreneurial community for adults with functional disabilities located in Brookshire, Texas. In the afternoon, the Astros visited with students at Katy Elementary School and hosted a Fielder's Choice assembly that addressed the importance of making good choices. A free autograph signing for fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors was the final stop of the day.
The first week of the Astros Caravan wrapped up with stops in College Station, Cypress and Spring on January 15. Players Brian Bogusevic, Michael Bourn and Bud Norris, former player Shane Reynolds and broadcaster Brett Dolan began the day with an autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors in College Station and then traveled back into the Cypress area for another autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors. Ending the day, the team hosted a chalk talk session and autograph signing for youth baseball players from the Northwest 45 Little League.
An addition to this season's tour was a two-day trip to Oklahoma City, Okla., home of the Astros new AAA affiliate. Featuring Manager Brad Mills, pitchers Jordan Lyles, Brandon Lyon, and Bud Norris along with Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, the Oklahoma City caravan kicked off on January 18 with a visit to the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children. The team made room-to-room visits and participated in arts and crafts with pediatric patients. In the evening, the caravan made its first stop at Bricktown Ballpark to attend a reception for RedHawks season ticket holders.
January 19, day two of the Astros Caravan, began with a visit to Edwards Elementary School where the team hosted a Fielder's Choice assembly and discussed the importance of making good choices. The tour continued with a RedHawks luncheon at Bricktown Ballpark followed by a visit to Tinker Air Force Base. Rounding out the trip, players hosted a free, public autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Players Clint Barmes, Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace and broadcaster Bill Brown made the annual Houston Astros caravan trip through central Texas. The three-day adventure began in Austin with a stop at the Texas Military Forces Museum and visits with Camp Mabry personnel on January 18. That evening, the Astros hosted a pizza party for children at the Helping Hand Home for Children.
Day two of the Astros three-day central Texas caravan was again in Austin and began with a visit to pediatric patients at Dell Children's Medical Center. In the afternoon, the team made a special visit to Dawson Elementary School hosting a Fielder's Choice assembly and then visited with kids at the Boys and Girls Club-Austin. The last stop of the day was at Academy Sports + Outdoors for a free, public autograph signing.
A day in San Antonio wrapped up the Astros three-day trip on January 20. The team visited Randolph Air Force Base in the morning and the Warrior Family Support Center in the afternoon. Completing the 2011 central Texas tour, players met with fans during a free, public autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
The Houston Astros Caravan again visited Corpus Christi and Victoria on the team's annual winter tour with Brad Mills, Bud Norris, former player Doug Brocail, Director of Player Development Fred Nelson and Hall of Fame Broadcaster Milo Hamilton making the trip. While in Corpus Christi, the Astros visited the Naval Air Station and then attended the Corpus Christi Hooks' (the team's AA affiliate) luncheon for season ticket holders. That afternoon, the team traveled to Victoria and met with kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria. The final stop of the day was a free autograph signing for fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors.
The Houston Astros caravan made a special trip for fans in the Temple, Texas area, the home of Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane. The three-day trip included numerous community visits and opportunities to meet fans. Brad Mills, Humberto Quintero, Nelson Figueroa and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton participated in the multi-day trek.
On January 24, the team met with students at Yoe High School in Cameron. On January 25, the tour continued with a full schedule of activities. The caravan's first stop was a breakfast with University of Mary Hardin Baylor athletes. Other morning visits included stops at Shoemaker and Belton High Schools. In the afternoon, the caravan visited Temple College and the last stop of the day was at Academy Sports + Outdoors for a free, public autograph signing.
The final day of the Temple caravan, January 26, featured morning stops at Temple High School and Scott and White Hospital. The Astros attended a luncheon at the Temple Lions Club and wrapped up the three-day tour with an autograph session at Temple Mall.
The Houston Astros caravan rolled back into Houston and the team's two and a half week tour concluded with the Club's multicultural caravan that visited fans in culturally diverse communities throughout Houston.
Day one, Thursday, January 27, began with players Brian Bogusevic, Wandy Rodriguez and broadcasters, Alex Trevino and Francisco Romero conducting a Fielder's Choice assembly for AAMA George I. Sanchez Charter School students along with an autograph session. Later that day, the caravan hosted a free public autograph signing at Fiesta.
January 28, the caravan made a special stop at Pleasantville Elementary, Jason Bourgeois' grade school. Joining Bourgeois, teammates Jason Castro, Humberto Quintero and broadcasters Francisco Romero and Alex Trevino, talked to students about the importance of making good choices throughout life. Friday's last stop was a baseball skills and autograph session at the Chinese Community Center for kids enrolled in the center's after-school program.
January 29, the third and final day of the multicultural caravan, featured a baseball clinic sponsored by Fiesta at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy. Approximately 300 youth enrolled in the Grand Slam for Youth Baseball city league participated in the clinic. Astros Jason Bourgeois, Michael Bourn and Jason Castro assisted Texas Southern University baseball players with instruction at various skill stations.