Astros 2005: A View from Afar

Astros World Series A Celebration Poster by Steven V. Russell In Pennsylvania, 2006

Astros 2005 World Series Team
A Student Educational Poster
by Teacher Steven V. Russell
At Bellmar Middle School, 2006, 30 miles South of Pittsburgh


Based on our general experience, sometimes we Houston sports fans are locked into the idea that championships for us in any sport are decidedly improbable and infrequent, if ever, and likely to disappear from our joyous grasp as they anomalously and briefly come to visit, but never to take up dynastic residence in our fair city. Were it not for the 1994 and 1995 NBA champion Houston Rockets, a few minor league hockey titles, a couple of Little League baseball crowns, Wayne Graham and the Rice Baseball Owls, whatever it was the Houston Dynamo soccer team once won, and the quickly squashed flirtation of the Houston Astros with a World Series title in 2005, we may as well otherwise conclude that “it’s just never going to happen”. – But it has. – So we are forced to see it for what it is – a long shot at best, if ever. – We are stuck with the weak hopeless reach for the improbable and unlikely event of getting a local sports championship that is as rare as the valuable pearl that sometimes may turn up in an order of oysters – as some now long forgotten and distantly past coastal waters expert once predicted to our great-great grandparents.

The “pearl in the oyster” metaphor is especially discouraging. Most of us who have grown up near the gulf coast, at least, have known that story since we could first remember anything, but how many of us actually have heard of it happening in reality? – Not me.

Another local belief, one which probably every large city not named New York or Los Angeles can embrace, seems even stronger as a verity: If Houston ever wins a World Series or a Super Bowl, nobody outside of the city is going to give “a flying fish” that we’ve done so – and viewers elsewhere probably will hit the remotes at home to keep from watching the TV report on our victory parade.

Guess what? The Pecan Park Eagle has received a report this week from friends in Pennsylvania that not everyone living afar from our little corner of the universe is that inattentive to our record of near accomplishment. Steven V. Russell, the Executive Director of the Mid Mon (Monongahela) Valley All Sports Hall of Fame in Donora, PA, who in 2006 was also then close to winding up a 42-year career as a teacher,  had prepared the above featured school poster for his students on the 2005 NL Champion Houston Astros.

Thank you for sending this piece to us, Ron Paglia. Ron is an excellent veteran sports writer from the home country of Stan Musial and both Ken Griffeys – and a dedicated student of the game. And Steven Russell is no less of a voracious baseball man, we are told – and as we have concluded from his work, his contributions, his accomplishments, and his baseball genes. You may recall that we did a column on Steve’s father, Jim Russell, a player with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Braves back in the late 1940s.

Here’s a link to the Jim Russell column, if you haven’t seen it:

We aren’t sure if Steve Russell has any deeper reasons for remembering the Astros as he did back in 2006, but it is nice to have evidence that someone from elsewhere gave one of our Houston clubs that much post-event attention. Perhaps, Steven Russell had some other driving motive to teach his students a year later about the NL champs from far away Houston, but we would prefer to think that Steve, as an NL guy whose father had played for the Pirates, was simply being fair and measured in his attention to the accomplishments of another NL club, even if it were the work of a team based in Texas.

Of course, if our guess is true, Steve Russell will never write about Houston again. – The Astros are an AL club now. – Ouch.

We will conclude with some of the displays identified only as “over the years” that Russell sent to us himself since the Paglia Astros poster contribution. There’s much we don’t know about these Russell displays, but one thing is for sure. – The students of Steven V. Russell were not likely to miss out on the fact that there is such a game as baseball.  Which means that any student from Bellmar – those who could not explain why Bill Mazeroski was important to Pirates history from 1960 forward – should never have been issued a diploma. 🙂

Thanks too for injecting a little show of outside support for something from Houston, Steve. Knowing we have outside support raises our championship hopes mode – just a tad.

The 1982 Beer City Series by Steven C, Russell (left) 1982

The 1982 Beer City Series
by Steven V, Russell (left)


Has anybody in this class ever heard about the game of baseball?

Has anybody in this class ever heard about the game of baseball?


Coming Attractions by Steven V. Russell (lower left)

Coming Attractions
by Steven V. Russell
(lower left)


One Response to “Astros 2005: A View from Afar”

  1. Sam Quintero Says:

    Mr. Russell you are a true fan of the game (not a fanatic), the real deal! I appreciate your effort, your meticulous organization and your sincere tribute of love for our national pastime!

    From one fan to another, well done Mr. Russell and thank you for setting a FAN – tastic standard of loyalty to baseball!

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