66ºF

Spring is in the air

The Astros pitchers and catchers are in their new spring training camp.

The new digs are in West Palm Beach and appear to be a far cry from the dim lights of Kissimmee. I spent more than a few springs near LINE DRIVE. That was the street behind Osceola County Stadium where the Astros used to spend their training days. I loved seeing Dave Smith fishing behind the center field wall. There was a pond back there and a few balls bonked fish on the head when someone got a hold of one. I remember the day the then owner John Mcmullen called Nolan Ryan a bad name while I was interviewing the GOOD DOCTOR MCMULLEN. We had a great exclusive until we couldn't find the camera tape the next day. We stored some gear in the Astros clubhouse and lo and behold someone must have taken it. I looked every spring for that darned thing.

The neighborhood around the old park had a junior college and about 30 places to get discounted breakfasts. The traffic was brutal and most of it went by the ballpark to the House that Mickey built. One year before going to Kissimmee, I covered the Reds in TAMPA at the old Redlands complex. In one day I must have set a record for stuff seen after talking to baseball players. I had a triple A uniform on as I had been asked to throw some BP for the Indianapolis Indians. Sparky was the Reds Mgr. and he chewed me out for having a mustache. Then he realized I was a pretender and told me to take a lap or two. I did and told him I would shave if he could add me to the roster. I never got an answer

As I was recovering from that we saw fire trucks and police cars converge on a car wash across from the ball year. It seems
they were raiding a "car wash of ill repute". It gave a whole new meaning to DRIVE THROUGH  After that adventure, we drove to our motel just in time to have a fully grown sea gull hit us head on. He was dead and so was our windshield. That day may not top seeing a new Astros facility , but it has to come close.