ALVIN, Texas -- The emotions still pour out of Astros president Reid Ryan. That's what winning a World Series championship will do. That's what returning to the small town where you grew up and sharing the Commissioner's Trophy with those who watched you grow up will do.Two and a half
ALVIN, Texas -- The emotions still pour out of Astros president Reid Ryan. That's what winning a World Series championship will do. That's what returning to the small town where you grew up and sharing the Commissioner's Trophy with those who watched you grow up will do.
Two and a half months after the Astros beat the Dodgers in seven games to win the World Series, Ryan still got choked up when he stood in front of about 400 people Thursday afternoon at the joint meeting of the Alvin Lions and Rotary clubs and talked about what coming home with the trophy means to him and this community of 24,326 people.
The crowd was so large that the event had to be moved to a bigger venue, to the Knights of Columbus hall instead of the banquet hall at Joe's Barbeque.
"This is really cool because in 2013 when we were losing 100 games, the Alvin Rotary and Lions club asked me to come speak, and I think they were the first people to ask me to come speak," Ryan said. "I told them as long as I have this job I would come back every year. Today I asked them how many thought we'd win the World Series. There were a couple with their hands up, but I don't know if I'm buying it. They were my mom and dad's friends."
The crowd, which was treated to a barbecue lunch, a season recap from Ryan, 46, and a talk from Astros broadcaster Todd Kalas, included Ryan's former schoolmates, teachers, teammates and others who have called Alvin home all their lives. It included friends of his father, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who grew up in Alvin and put the town on the map.
Nolan Ryan and his wife, Ruth, moved from Alvin about 15 years ago, but you can't drive into this town 30 miles south of Houston without seeing his name on signs. A statue of Nolan Ryan stands proudly outside city hall. Like his dad, Reid Ryan grew up in Alvin. He played baseball for the Alvin High School Yellow Jackets and dreamed of being a big leaguer. Fate had other plans, but Ryan was still able to deliver on a championship.
"I kind of teared up a little bit because these people have supported my family, my dad's career, my career, the Astros, and so being here and seeing teammates of mine, teachers of mine, teammates of my mom and dad, longtime civic leaders -- they were all here an hour before I got here, ready to go -- to see this and hear me and hear Todd Kalas, a lot of people never thought the Astros would win this in their lifetime," Ryan said.
"These are people who have watched the Colt .45s come in, they knew the Astrodome when it was built and were in high school then. Just a lot of great stories and a lot of joy today."
In addition to hearing from Ryan and Kalas, the highlight of the lunch was an opportunity to take a picture with the Commissioner's Trophy. Fans young and old lined up for a chance to share in the excitement. The Astros have been taking the trophy throughout the Houston area and Texas in recent weeks, but for Ryan there was nothing as meaningful as a stop in Alvin.
"I lived in the greatest town I could. Back then, it was one high school. All my family lived here -- aunts and uncles, both sides," Ryan said. "So you have freedom to go have fun, be a kid, be close to Houston, be close to the coast. If you like to hunt and fish or high school football or summer baseball, it had it all.
"Little League was a big deal in our town and everybody came out. We had a city championship. When my dad signed with the Astros [prior to 1980], they threw a parade for us and had a pep rally. And so, Alvin will always have a special place in my heart. I wish I had the opportunity to get down here more, but as they say, Jacket pride never dies."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.