Nolan Ryan to throw out first pitch to Craig Biggio for Astros opener
While the Houston Astros team on the field is definitely built for the future, the teams ownership and management is giving a nod to the past. After bringing Nolan Ryan back as a special adviser to his son, team President Reid Ryan, he has been tapped to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, according to Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle. On top of that, more recent team hero Craig Biggio, also an adviser to the team, will be behind the plate to receive it.
The pair represent the two successful “eras” of Astros baseball (if you can call deep playoff runs “success”). Ryan pitched for the Astros from 1980 through 1988, including two thrilling postseason runs in 1980 and 1986. Craig Biggio got his first call to the majors in 1988, collecting his first of what turned out to be 3060 career hits. According to Laymance, Biggio caught Ryan’s 100th win with the Astros in 1988. Biggio went on to play in six postseason with the Astros (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2005, with that last resulting in his only World Series appearance).
The Astros face off against the New York Yankees on Tuesday in the opener, which will feature Derek Jeter’s last opening day at bat. The Yankees and Astros have been intertwined throughout history, as the Pinstripes ended their 2013 season in Houston with Mariano Rivera on hand, but not participating on the field. It might also be noted, that Mickey Mantle hit the first ever home run in the brand new Astrodome in 1965 in an exhibition game. The Yankees were the victim of the Astros last no hitter, a six pitcher affair after starter Roy Oswalt left the game early with an injury in 2003 at Yankee Stadium. And everyone remembers it was the Houston Astros management that George Costanza, the assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees, first negotiated interleague play.
Expect a full house in Houston for the opener. And probably most of the opening series. After that, maybe not so much.
– David Whitlock