HOUSTON - JULY 11: Jeff Bagwell addresses the media during a press conference as the Houston Astros announced that Bagwell was replacing Sean Berry as hitting coach on July 11 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Of all my favorite memories of Jeff Bagwell (and there are a ton), one in particular stands out. As we're counting down big moments in Astros history by the game, it's fitting that the last man to wear No. 5 for the Houston Astros gets honored for the team's fifth game, right?
Oh, and as an extra-special bonus, this game in particular happened in 2005.
That wasn't vintage Bagwell. He wasn't hitting those moon shots out of the 'Dome by then. He wasn't one of the best hitters of his time. He was just a guy who's shoulder was slowly forcing him out of the game. I remember going to the first game he didn't start that year, on May 7, and I remember this one because he came up so big.
Against the Milwaukee Brewers during that magic run towards the wild card spot, Bagwell came up with two outs and runners on first and second. Bagwell pinch hits for Brad Lidge against Dana Eveland in a game tied at 1-1. Houston needed a win in this one, because the Phillies had already won big that night and were a half-game in front of Houston for the wild card lead.
Well, Bagwell came through in a big way, sending Eveland's third pitch of the at-bat into center field. That allowed Willy Taveras to score from second and give the Astros their third straight victory.
I was at the game, and all I can remember is how loud it was in that one moment. You know at the end of The Natural, when Roy is at the plate and everything just stops? The sound is just the crowd cheering and the occasional word of encouragement from his team? That's what Minute Maid Park sounded like when Bagwell came up with that hit. Sheer pandemonium. The crowd of 33,767 made it sound like they'd gone to the World Series.
I can still remember Bagwell hitting the ball, stretching out with that batting lean he used after he connected and he was heading to first base. Hobbled shoulder and all, he could still produce the heroics when it counted.
What was your favorite memory of Bagwell's career? Did he have any one play that stood out for you in the 2005 season?