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Posted on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 10:42 am

World Series was agony and ecstasy for Astros fans

Zach Birdsong


“Holy Toledo!”

The catchphrase of the late, great Houston radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton echoed throughout my head as I watched the Astros celebrate their first-ever World Series Title with a 5-1 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

As I write this, it is now two days later, and I still have to pinch myself just to make sure I’m not dreaming. I never thought I’d get the chance to be able to put World Series Champions and Houston Astros right next to each other in the same sentence.

I went to my first Astros game with my dad when I was 6 years old, and I’ve been a fan ever since, even once owning a dog named Astro – and that wasn’t a reference to “The Jetsons.”

I suffered through the bad years, most notably, the three-straight 100-loss seasons. I went through the heartbreak that the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2015 playoffs series offered.

After 23 years of fandom, it paid off as I finally got to celebrate, popping a bottle of champagne, splitting it with my neighbor as tears of joy came down my face. To be honest, I had already decided regardless of the outcome, I was drinking – if for anything, my health.

After the World Series went final on Wednesday, I celebrated with a bottle of champagne after the Houston Astros won their first-ever championship with a 5-1 victory over Los Angeles.

What a rollercoaster of emotions that the 2017 Playoffs delivered, really starting with the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. Down three games to two, the Astros rallied for a pair of home wins, earning a spot into their second-ever World Series.

In 2005, the organization made it to its first World Series, but was swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games. Goal number one of this latest opportunity became securing a win, which the Astros did in dramatic style during game 2 of the series.

If you’re unlucky enough to follow me on Twitter — or Facebook for that matter — you saw my emotions firsthand. This series allowed me to feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but every emotion was on display as some point during this series.

As nerve-wracking as it was, this is the way this World Series had to go, all coming down to a game 7.

This championship represents far more than just your average run-of-the-mill sports title. For many people, the Astros represented hope, an escape and a reason to smile.

In August, Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Houston as so many people were stranded without shelter as the storm tore through. In total, the city received 51 inches of rain from Harvey. The damages from that storm are still ongoing and many are still trying to return to their normal lives.

Houston shortstop Carlos Correa said it best —and I’m paraphrasing here — if he and the Astros could offer a three-hour escape from real life and bring smiles to people’s faces, he did his job. It might have been the players who won on the field, but this World Series Title is for everybody who suffered, preserved and found joy watching this Houston Astros team.

This title is also for the longtime ’Stros fans, those who had suffered much longer than I ever dreamed. Before I went to my first game in 1995 and fell in love, there were the Colt 45 fans who, three years later, rooted for the same team under the Astros name.

Watching a game inside the Astrodome was something special. As a kid, I and many others called it the eighth wonder of the world and it was my Disney World.

I’ll never forget going to my first game with my dad in 1995, watching Houston take on Pittsburgh inside the dome. I remember looking up,

During a trip to Sonoma Valley in California in 2000, my dad, Pat Birdsong, snaps a photo of my mom, Tracy Birdsong, myself and my brother, Adam Birdsong.

seeing the roof and being amazed at how close we were to the field. I’ll also never forget the fan who bought me a miniature bat because it was my first game and I reminded him of his son.

It was thanks to those years that I knew I wanted to be a sports journalist. I would record myself, pretending to be Milo Hamilton, calling the Astros games. Rather than be on the field, dreaming away of hitting that game-winning shot in a game 7, I instead envisioned myself getting to call that contest on the radio.

It was over the game in which my dad and I really bonded. I’ll never forget being 7 years old and being jealous of my dad, because he went to a game without me and was thrown a baseball from St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Garry Gaetti. I disliked the Cardinals, but man, I really wanted a major leaguer to throw me a ball.

When I wasn’t tweeting during this playoff run, I was texting my dad. We were smack talking the Astros’ offense, talking game strategy and about the different game situations, essentially

After the Coffee Pot in 2013, I interviewed Coach John Olive, while wearing an Astros jacket that was given to me as a Christmas gift by my aunt and uncle, Terry and Robert Harrison.

being the armchair managers. The only thing that could have been better is if I had been sitting next to him, rather than just texting.

After my own happy dancing and watching a little bit of a celebrating, I picked up the phone and called my dad as soon as game 7 went final. I’m not even sure if what I said was English because I was so happy, but I knew that I had to talk to my dad first before anybody else.

That’s why I love the game of baseball and why the Astros mean so much to me. Whether it was playing catch in the driveway, going to games together or talking about strategy, I always loved those moments with my dad. It was all started by him taking me to that first game in 1995.