I was originally going to title this "Astroline with RHP Chris Sampson", but the show proved to be so much more than that.
The Channelview native started off by talking about how he got drafted by the Astros as a short stop in 1999 and how he’s now another good-hitting pitcher like Woody Williams and Brandon Backe on the team.
He talked about his first MLB start against the Cubs on June 6th, 2006–He stayed within himself and pitched his game even though he’d found out the night before that he’d be making his first major league start at home in front of family, friends and thousands of hometown fans. Chris said "it’s all mental, the jump from AAA to MLB."
Milo Hamilton asked him what his best pitch was and Sampson said it had to be his sinker because it is a fastball with lots of movement and he can get a lot of ground ball outs–he said he has no illusions of being a Roger Clemens and having that fast ball hit 95 mph.
I asked him if he’d been working on any new pitches or if he was going to stick with the same repertoire he had in 2006.
His answer was "I’m not working on any new pitches, but I am working on making my changeup better." Milo then asked him if it was a straight change-up and he said it was.
He then talked about the time he was away from baseball due to some issues in his life in response to another caller. He said he couldn’t give 100 percent to baseball until 2003 when he called the Astros after his divorce. The Astros asked him if he could pitch and when he said he could give it a try, he was invited to pitch a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park on 6 January and subsequently invited to spring training which led to a minor league contract and working his way up to the bigs in 2006.
Milo Hamilton asked Chris if he’d spent any time with the legendary Roger Clemens. Sampson admitted he had been in awe of The Rocket at first, but, to his surprise, Clemens was really easy to talk to and asked him as many questions about how to improve his own game as Chris had for the 7 time Cy Young Winner.
This is the feel good part–First, his sister Darlene called in to wish him and his new wife and baby-on-the-way the best. Later on, another sister Brandi put him on the spot by teasing him about how many Little League games he’d won instead of doing his homework–needless to say, the whole Sampson family is extremely proud of Chris and his success. What a wonderful feeling for a rookie–pitching for the team he grew up being a fan of and having such early success in front of hometown crowds.
Tonight’s Astroline broadcast can be heard by clicking "listen live" here. Starting next week, Dave Raymond, Astros radio announcer will be the new host and as a programming note, there won’t be an Astroline during the week of Christmas. The first show in 2007 will be on 4 January due to the Bowl Game.