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Astros fan, auction winner gets VIP treatment

Romero enjoys her prize as MLB.com Correspondent for a Day
MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- The first baseball game Minerva Romero attended was in the Astrodome, many moons ago. It's highly likely her most recent trip to see an Astros game will stand out even more than the first.

Romero was the winning bidder of the "MLB.com Correspondent for a Day" package offered during the annual Winter Meetings Charity Auction, and, being an Astros fan who recently located to McAllen, Texas, Romero claimed her prize on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- The first baseball game Minerva Romero attended was in the Astrodome, many moons ago. It's highly likely her most recent trip to see an Astros game will stand out even more than the first.

Romero was the winning bidder of the "MLB.com Correspondent for a Day" package offered during the annual Winter Meetings Charity Auction, and, being an Astros fan who recently located to McAllen, Texas, Romero claimed her prize on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

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Romero and three of her family members were treated to a VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark, where they mingled with Astros players, chatted in the booth with team broadcasters Francisco Romero and Alex Trevino, and were given an up-close view of what it's like to cover batting practice and other pregame activities as a reporter on the scene.

"This is amazing," Romero said. "Everybody talks about how important practice is, and it's great to see them do this all, live in action."

The auction item Romero bid on was part of a Major League-wide event that began in 2012. For six years, Major League Baseball, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network and all 30 clubs have organized a charity auction during the Winter Meetings to benefit a special cause close to the game. Last December, the auction supported the Katharine Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, in memory of the late pioneering baseball executive whose career spanned 40 years.

The Winter Meetings charity auction, which raises funds for a different cause every year, has raised more than $900,000 since its inception.

As the winner of the MLB.com experience, Romero, an endocrine and general surgeon who also teaches at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, listened in on manager AJ Hinch's daily media session, and she then had a private question-and-answer session of her own. Romero admitted that while she's used to working under pressure in her own job, she had never felt so nervous than she did right then, holding a microphone while chatting with the World Series-winning skipper.

"You also have to find a way to get outside your comfort zone," Hinch said. "This might be your time to be out of your comfort zone; mine would definitely be in a surgery. I wouldn't know what to do."

Tweet from @alysonfooter: Fun day hosting the winner of the ���https://t.co/InC3H6ieen Correspondent for a Day��� prize from last year���s Winter Meetings charity auction. Minerva Romero and her family were wonderful guests. pic.twitter.com/UkqaTrmNdE

Romero handled the interview like a pro. She asked Hinch pointed questions, such as what advice he would give stemming from what he's learned as a manager, and how he handles having to give negative feedback to his players. She also picked his brain on his favorite road ballparks -- he's partial to Safeco Field and Petco Park -- and his favorite memory from the World Series.

"The 27th out -- getting hit to [Jose Altuve], and seeing the pure joy on everybody's faces," Hinch said.

In her interview with outfielder Jake Marisnick, Romero questioned him about his favorite memory as a ballplayer.

"The final out of the World Series -- running on the field with the guys," Marisnick said. "Knowing we were world champions was a very cool experience."

Once the formal interviews were complete, Romero, who was joined by her mother, Maria Singh, her brother, Christian Singh, and her stepfather, Sunny Singh, watched the remainder of Astros batting practice from a special sectioned-off area in front of the club's dugout.

Often, Astros players drop by that spot to mingle with fans before they head back into the clubhouse.

In that respect, Romero and her family hit the proverbial jackpot, as All-Stars Carlos Correa and Altuve both made their way over to say hello, pose for pictures and sign autographs.

"I wanted to meet [Altuve] for the past few years," Maria Singh said. "It was a dream come true. I was so happy to meet him. He is so talented. He had a few moments to give to the fans and that was important."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Houston Astros