Hanging with the 1986 Astros at the 2012 TriStar Houston Collectors Show
Between January 20th and 22nd, TriStar Productions hosted a special event for sports collectors. The 2012 TriStar Houston Collectors Show was held in Reliant Arena, which is nestled near Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. The event hosted many current stars, like Houston Texans standout, Arian Foster, and athletes from the past, like Olympic gold medalist, Carl Lewis.
However, this particular event provided something more. TriStar managed to bring together 18 members of the 1986 Houston Astros, one of the most successful teams in franchise history. Over the three-day event, TriStar gave fans a chance to meet and get autographs from the former teammates. They also had an off-site reception where ticket holders were able to take part in a Q&A session and mingle with players like Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Billy Hatcher and Jose Cruz.
Fortunate enough to get my hands on a ticket, I was able to attend the reunion reception held at a nearby hotel. With catered hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar, the reception definitely took the level of class up a notch. This made several fans seem out-of-place as they were still in their hobby show garb. The reunited teammates first entered the reception and mostly chatted it up with each other while fans pretended not to stare and point out their favorites. Thankfully, all the participating players wore name tags.
The 1986 Astros were escorted out of the reception briefly for photos and returned to take their place at a long table on stage. The reception was overseen by a local sports radio host who introduced each participant before guiding the Q&A session. Not surprisingly, Nolan Ryan garnered much of the attention. In response to a question about the current state of the Astros, the Texas Rangers owner and president appropriately used the phrase, "long haul".
The questions that got some of the best responses were of the "What are you up to now?" variety. Each former teammate was able to answer and, to my surprise, many are still involved with baseball at one level or another. Jose Cruz is still with the Astros, while Billy Hatcher is with the Cincinnati Reds organization. However, the best quote came from Nolan Ryan. He simply replied that he's been busy "signing Japanese ball players," alluding to the recent signing of Yu Darvish.
I've been to a few card shows in my day, but this was the first time I've been able to attend a reunion like this. To see these former big leaguers 25 years later was a unique experience to say the least. In 1986, I was seven-years old and the Astros' playoff run was a big reason I am a fan and collector today. I only hope I am still around in 2030 and there's a similar reunion for 2005 Houston Astros that reached the World Series.