Jeff Bagwell was the guest for Astroline, hosted by Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton on January 24, 2007. For the past three years, the live taping of Astroline has been held at the Live Sports Cafe, one of downtown Houston’s finest sports bars, located in a three storey building nestled in the heart of Houston and only a few blocks from Minute Maid Park.
I found The Live Sports Cafe to be a cozy and friendly place although the radio show was hard to hear in many parts of the bar due to the low volume necessary for a radio broadcast. Ahmed, one of the owners said the shows with the Killer Bees are always the most popular and well-attended. Biggio has garnered the most crowds so far. He added that as a big Astros fan, it’s a lot of fun for him to host these Astroline shows.
Milo Hamilton started the show by saying the new faces of the Astros are now Berkman, Oswalt and Lee. Bagwell agreed, adding he and Biggio can’t play forever and the lifespan of a baseball player is a lot shorter than golf or some other sports. The Astros as a team have to make that transition now.
When asked by a caller if he would like to someday manage a big league club, Jeff said he has no desire to manage a team in the near future–he is enjoying time off right now and the new job with the Astros will keep him very busy. Brad Ausmus, on the other hand, would be a great manager. According to Bagwell, Ausmus has almost been another guy on the coaching staff. He cares very much about his pitchers.
Responding to a question about his influence with the management due to his new position in bringing up players from the minors, Bagwell said he doesn’t think he has much pull with who comes up like Hunter Pence, but, Nolan Ryan was asked to evaluate players when he first took the personal services contract and Ryan singled out Roy Oswalt as a pitcher who should be in the majors–this about the time that Oswalt was being considered for a demotion to A ball. Ryan’s glowing report led to Oswalt staying at Round Rock (AA at the time) and being called up to the bigs to stay the following year. Bagwell added that he hopes he can be that kind of set of eyes for the hitters starting next week at Minute Maid Park and the Jeff Bagwell Elite Hitters Camp.
Jeff then joked about being in the management means he is Ausmus and Biggio’s boss now and knows they have been very disrespectful towards the management, adding that such behavior will have to be addressed.
Bagwell’s one-time pool cleaner called in and talked about how great and humble Jeff is. He wanted to know that now Willy Taveras is gone, where the speed on the base paths would come from. Bagwell said the team is not going to be very speedy in 2007. He mostly expects Berkman and Lee to be slugging; however, Burke and Everett both have speed and are good base runners and can be very effective.
Jeff expects his new job to be mostly behind the scenes, traveling to Corpus Christi and Round Rock to evaluate talent. When asked by a caller if he had played any other sports in high school or college and if there was a story behind #5 being awarded to him, Bagwell said he mostly played soccer a lot in high school. He also skied and played some basketball. He never did play any football in high school and is now glad he didn’t.
As to how he got to wear #5, Bagwell said when he first got traded to the Astros by the Boston Red Sox, he found the clubhouse guy back then was from New England and decided to give the new guy from "back home" a low number almost as a dare to the organization saying "this guy’s going to succeed, even if you don’t think he will."
Milo Hamilton informed the listeners that Jeff Bagwell Day will happen in 2007 at Minute Maid Park and it will be one that the fans will remember for a long time.
Next week’s Astroline guest is slated to be Craig Biggio, barring scheduling conflicts.