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Dauer thankful to be alive, back in Astros camp

Former first-base coach nearly died after collapsing during World Series parade
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Proclaiming he's healthier now than he was before he nearly died in a harrowing episode in the days following Houston's World Series championship, former Astros first-base coach Rich Dauer certainly hasn't lost any of his sense of humor.

The retired Dauer, back in uniform for a few days in Astros camp -- his 45th Spring Training in professional baseball -- joked Sunday that he can't wait to travel with the team to the White House on Monday so he can apply for a cabinet position. He said that when he woke up in the hospital after nearly dying, he opened his eyes and saw his wife perusing an online dating site.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Proclaiming he's healthier now than he was before he nearly died in a harrowing episode in the days following Houston's World Series championship, former Astros first-base coach Rich Dauer certainly hasn't lost any of his sense of humor.

The retired Dauer, back in uniform for a few days in Astros camp -- his 45th Spring Training in professional baseball -- joked Sunday that he can't wait to travel with the team to the White House on Monday so he can apply for a cabinet position. He said that when he woke up in the hospital after nearly dying, he opened his eyes and saw his wife perusing an online dating site.

The fact Dauer is living, much less able to laugh at life, is nothing short of a miracle.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Dauer, 65, underwent successful surgery to repair an acute subdural hematoma, only hours after he collapsed during the team's World Series parade on Nov. 3. When the surgery began, doctors said he had a 3 percent chance of survival. That was only four months ago.

"It's really hard to believe, and I'm still finding out stuff," Dauer said. "The people that showed up and all the people that called -- the prayers and calls from so many people, it took me months [to return their calls]. I still have people I have to text back. All I did was open my eyes and everything was all right. I'm not sure I'll ever get the full knowledge of what the heck happened. I'm very thankful and very happy to be here, but I'm happy to be anywhere."

Dauer will travel with the Astros on Monday to Washington, D.C., where they will meet President Donald Trump in the East Room in recognition of winning the World Series. The Astros also invited Dauer to take part in the banner unveiling and ring ceremony at Minute Maid Park next month.

"I look forward to the greatest tradition in baseball, picking up a World Series ring," said Dauer, who won a ring as a player with the 1983 Orioles.

It took a perfectly executed string of events to save Dauer's life in the minutes following the parade. Astros team doctors, team officials and EMTs worked in unison to get an ill Dauer out of the massive crowd on a hot afternoon and to nearby Houston Medical Center. Surgery to remove pressure and stop the bleeding on his brain took three hours.

"I didn't know what I went through, and there were a lot of people that had to be put in the right spot for me to go through what I did," he said. "I didn't have anything to do with it. God decided he didn't want me to die."

Dauer was out of the hospital on Nov. 15 and has made a full recovery. His wife, Chris, called him a "walking miracle."

"We're literally lucky to be able to bring him back and be with us," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

As far as retirement goes, Dauer brags he's fixed one toilet and the fan above the stove at his home in Atlanta. He said he's going home next week to mow his lawn for the first time in 15 years. He doesn't miss the stress and timing of Spring Training but misses being around the team.

"I'm going to miss the camaraderie and the comebacks and throwing the buckets [of water] on people's heads and stuff like that," he said. "I've had my time."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

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