I've got tickets to see Roger Clemens for the Round Rock Express on June 16. I've seen Roger pitch on a few occasions for the Astros, but the chance to see him in such a small minor-league setting was just too good to pass up. It would have been ideal to see him pitch last night for the Legends, because that's pretty much the smallest crowd you'll ever see him pitch in front of again.
Round Rock actually has a pretty nice stadium that was bought and paid for by team owner Nolan Ryan. As close friends of mine know, Nolan is a longtime family friend — my grandfather served on the board of directors for Nolan's bank in Alvin for years, and a lot of spring breaks in my youth were spent at the Astros spring training camp in Florida. I was nine years old, and even though it was twenty years ago, I can still vividly remember standing in the batters box waiting for my first pitch from Nolan. I'd like to think that was the moment I decided I really didn't want to become a pro baseball player; to a normal human being, Nolan was merely superhuman, but to a 9 year old kid? That fastball was enough to make you never want to play the game again.
Nolan has always been an incredible family friend, and I hope to run into him when I'm in Round Rock for the game in a few weeks. Getting to see Roger is always an honor and a treat, but getting to see him in the confines of a minor-league baseball park as he readies himself to save the Astros from a horrid slump? Priceless, I tell you.