Inspired by a recent story on here, I decided I'd share how I turned into the diehard Astros fan that I am.
I've never been to Houston. Actually I've never been to Texas, not even any of the states that border it for that matter. I've lived in the Chicagoland area my entire life, surrounded by Cubs and White Sox fans and a few pesky, spoiled Cardinals fans that nobody seems to like.
My dad has been a Cubs fan his entire life, and I was initially pushed down that road. I remember going to a Cubs game with my Dad when I was in 2nd grade. We sat in the rooftops in left field. The game was against the Mets, I remember Moises Alou and Mike Piazza hit home runs that game. I also remember the rooftop I was on had very delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Anyways, I was raised initially as a Cubs fan. When I was I believe 9, I discovered the Astros through a video game. I've never told anyone this. When people ask me why I'm an Astros fan, I say it's because of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. That's true, but I don't say where I discovered those two players. Well, one day I decided to start a new season on the game MLB Slugfest 2003. I didn't want to be the Cubs, I was tired of playing as the same team. So I randomed it. I remember this. I remember it going through the randoming process and the Astros logo popping up and I was like "ok, I don't know much about them but okay". So I played an entire 162 game season with the Astros. The best players (hitting-wise, as a kid I didn't care all that much about pitching) were Craig Biggio, Richard Hidalgo, and Jeff Bagwell. These guys were awesome on that game, I mean, it was basically an automatic home run every time they came up. Somehow, I ended up seeing Biggio and Bagwell on TV sometime in 2003 when I was in 3rd grade. Even on TV they were awesome. I liked some players on the Cubs, but these guys were much more fun to watch than Sammy Sosa or Moises Alou. So I liked watching Biggio and Bagwell play. I was still a Cubs fan, but I loved those players. Slowly but surely, I found myself not only being a Killer B fan, but I was watching the entire team and I loved it. It was different than watching the Cubs. Even though that was 2003, the year the Cubs made it to the NLCS and almost World Series, I was turning into an Astros fan. By the time the Cubs were in the playoffs, I wasn't much of a Cubs fan at all; I was an Astros fan.
In Chicago back then I couldn't watch very many of the Astros games at all, so I watched every single game on MLB.com's gamecast. If you've ever watched that thing, you know it is terribly boring. But I would sit there and for basically the entire game I would just be staring at the screen waiting for balls and strikes to pop up on the little diagram of the strike zone. When they did play the Cubs, I'd be glued to the TV cheering against the team I was raised to follow. In 4th grade when they were in the playoffs (2004), I remember making mini posters out of one piece of paper and writing Killer Bs on it with Astros logos and I'd hold it up during lunch. I have no idea why I did that or who I was hoping would see it but I was representing my guys!
2005 was special. I visited Cooperstown and got my first Astros shirt, a black Jeff Bagwell t-shirt that surprisingly still fits me despite the hole in the armpit area. I saw my first Astros game in Milwaukee in September of 2005. I remember the 'Stros won 7-5 or something. Lance Berkman hit a home run to a spot I was just at 10 seconds prior. The night we clinched a World Series berth, my parents had tickets for all of us to go see Paul McCartney. I faked sick, I wanted to see the Astros win a game that would send them to the World Series. When we won, I called my Dad (who was at the concert) and he answered. With music blaring in the background, I screamed WE'RE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES! WE'RE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!.. I think he knew I faked sick. But I'd do it again today. I cried when we lost. I was in 5th grade and had only been a proud Astros fan for a little over two years but I had my heart in that team.
Since then, the road us Astros fans have been on hasn't been the same. It's been bumpy and rough, but I've been wrapped around that team. I'm 18 now and will be going to college this Fall. That love that I had for the Killer Bs and the 'Stros when I was in elementary school has grown to a deep passion for the organization. No matter how many games we have lost, I'll still watch every game I possibly can (thanks to MLB.tv). Last year I watched over 100 games, and this year I expect to watch no less.
One day (hopefully soon) I will go down to Houston to finally see the Juice Box. I want to see what it's like to be a home fan for this team. In Chicago or Milwaukee, I'm the fan at the games that let's everyone in my section know there's an Astros fan here. When something big happens or it becomes clear we're going to win, I don't shut up and I often stand up and rub it in for long periods of time. In Houston, I wouldn't really need to do that, which would be different. It's really itching at me to step foot in that stadium.
On a separate note, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are gods to me. They are the reason my room is decked in Astros gear (ok, maybe some Blackhawks stuff, too). I am hoping that they get inducted into the Hall of Fame together. I'd absolutely love to go to Cooperstown to see the ceremony. My two heroes going in together is basically a dream that I would experience firsthand.
Well, as a non-natural Astros fan, I blend in just fine. It's a different road I've taken to this website than many of you, but does it really matter? I don't think so. We're all Astros fans. We all want to see this team succeed. We're around for the long haul until then. That's what matters.