I saw them play in their first season, when they were the Colt .45s, a rag-tag expansion team. Over the years, my family and friends followed the team with a passion only exceeded by the LSU Tigers.
Sweet to see the Astros of Springer, Altuve, Bregman, Correa, McCann, Gurriell, Keuchel, Morton, Verlander, Peacock, Gonzales, Reddick, McCullers, Musgrove, Harris, Beltran, Gattis, Devenksi, Harris, Giles and Liriano succeed after all of these seasons.
The team's often zany history stretches across long patches of horrible play broken by the excellence of several teams loaded with talent, who always fell short.
I'm amazed at how many Astros players I can remember from years past, a few of them Hall of Famers, many of them great talents who never fulfilled their potential.
The saddest was J.R. Richard, perhaps the greatest pitching talent ever, felled by a stroke. The Astros had several other tragedies over the years. They traded away players like Rusty Staub, Joe Morgan and Mike Cuellar. They didn't win championships with Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. We loved near superstars like Jimmy Wynn, the "Toy Cannon," and Cesar Cedeno.
The 2017 Astros changed the script, displaying fortitude and resilience that reflected Houston's efforts to recover from Hurricane Harvey's devastation. Baseball's grace and despair - reflected in the contrasting faces of George Springer and Yu Darvish -were entangled with the realities of climate change and political turmoil.
Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran from Puerto Rico. Jose Altuva from Venezuela. The Astros playing for flood-ravaged Houston.
For years, the World Series brought out the best sportswriters from the nation's papers, like the Herald Tribune's and New York Times' Red Smith. With the ravaging of the newspaper and magazine industry, that tradition has faded. I'm grateful for writers like the Washington Post's Tom Boswell, who uphold the tradition and capture the game's timeless beauty.
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci again showed that he's today's best baseball writer, reaching the heights of past masters like W.C. Heinz. His piece on the Astros' 5-1 victory Wednesday night in the World Series' seventh game is loaded with great baseball quotes. Seventh game pitching hero Charlie Morton's resurgence with the Astros is an inspiring story of determination that Verducci tells with depth and insight all the more impressive considering that he wrote it after serving as a Fox Sports commentator.
With Willie Nelson's "Bloody Mary Morning" running through my mind, I'm replaying scenes from the Astros' wins over Boston, the New York Yankees and the Dodgers. One of my favorite World Series memories will be the young Astros fans wearing Dallas Keuchel beards.
I envy those kids. They saw the Astros win a championship without having to wait 56 years.