Although you might think our whirlwind trip to Houston to see the Astros battle the Red Sox in Saturday’s Game 2 of the American League Championship Series was a total bummer because of the outcome, that wouldn’t be true.
On the way down, as Kay and I stopped to get gas in The Woodlands, across I-45 from where my family lived in Oak Ridge North starting in December 1971 when I was a couple of months from turning 11, I called our old across-the-street neighbor Earl Cornelsen to ask if we could stop by and visit. I hadn’t seen him in about three years, and he said he was just listening to the UT-Oklahoma State game and would love to see us. Earl turned 84 in February and lost his wife Linda six years ago, and he’s nearly blind as a result of glaucoma that he developed over 40 years ago.
We had a wonderful visit for about an hour, catching up on his grown children Craig and Stacey, his grandchildren and newly arrived great-grandson. He’s such a kind, wonderful man, and we were blessed to have the Cornelsens as our neighbors. After our mother Olga died in 2004, my brother Isaac and his family moved into our old house on Kane Lane, and he and his wife Phyllis keep watch over Earl, often bringing him food and making sure he’s OK.
The other memorable part of our quick trip to Houston came after the not-so-memorable game, which we left after 8 innings, when the score was 9-3 (so we missed the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro hitting solo homers in the ninth). We met my dear college friend Beverly Fluke and her husband Bob for a late dinner and spent about an hour and a half filling one another in on the goings-on in our lives. I last saw them a couple of years ago for an Astros-Yankees playoff game, and Kay saw them the year before (I think) when we all went to a regular-season game. I met Beverly my freshman year at Texas A&M, when she was a senior at Bryan High, and Bob was a year ahead of me in school and we lived in the same dorm, Moore Hall, although we didn’t know each other.
This third photo is what I’d have to call one of the real highlights of Saturday’s game. Major-league teams (at least at Rangers and Astros games I’ve attended) always honor members of the military or retired veterans, and at the two playoffs I’ve been to this year, the Astros have paid tribute to World War II vets. So here’s a shot of one of the two Minute Maid Park video boards showing two WWII veterans honored Saturday, accompanied by members of the Astros’ Shooting Stars. We salute our veterans, those who serve, and all who have given their lives in service to our great country.
Game 3 will be Monday night at Fenway Park in Boston, and despite the Astros’ starting pitching injuries and how bleak things looked after the Red Sox’s grand slams in the first two innings Saturday, all is NOT lost, Astros fans. You know this team never gives in, is never out of a game, plays well on the road and has the best offense in baseball. They need to win at least one of the next three at Fenway, and two would be even better to give them a 3-2 lead going back to Houston.
These teams are well-matched and this series is shaping up exactly as we all knew it would. I wish there were another game today, but I’ll do my best to wait for Monday night.
LET’S GO, ASTROS!!!!