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Berkman opens ALCS Game 3 with 1st pitch

October 16, 2018

HOUSTON -- The further the Astros advance in the postseason, the more star power they pack into their ceremonial first pitches. Houston opened the first of three home games in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday with an appearance by one of its most popular former players -- outfielder/first

HOUSTON -- The further the Astros advance in the postseason, the more star power they pack into their ceremonial first pitches. Houston opened the first of three home games in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday with an appearance by one of its most popular former players -- outfielder/first baseman Lance Berkman.
Berkman will still answer to "Puma," though these days, he identifies more as "coach" -- he's the head baseball coach at Second Baptist High School in Houston.

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Berkman doesn't make it out to Minute Maid Park a lot, but prior to throwing the first pitch before Game 3, he said he was looking forward to taking in the game among surroundings he was accustomed to -- a packed Minute Maid Park, under a closed roof.
"The environment is super-charged, and with the roof closed, it's so loud in here," Berkman said.
Berkman was a part of three playoff teams with the Astros -- 2001, '04 and '05. He also played for the Yankees in the postseason in '10, and he won a World Series title with the Cardinals in '11.
Berkman said his favorite teams were the 2005 Astros and the '11 Cards, two teams that stand out to him as the most harmonious in terms of camaraderie among teammates. He also remembers the '05 Astros fondly for another reason.
"We probably had the worst offense in the history of Major League Baseball to make it to the World Series," Berkman chuckled. "It seemed like we were always scraping runs and trying to get a hit here and there. We were always figuring it out because we had Roy [Oswalt] and Andy [Pettitte] and Roger [Clemens] and a great bullpen with [Brad] Lidge, [Dan] Wheeler and [Chad] Qualls and those guys."

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