I was fortunate to be granted the experience of being a part of the grounds crew at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee during Houston Astros spring training games before the start of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. There was plenty of excitement surrounding that club at the time as they would make a run at the World Series before being swept by the Chicago White Sox.
Aside from working in the trenches with some great people, I was granted front row access to be around Astros players such as Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, among many others. Not to mention the random run-ins with Nolan Ryan and high-profile players and managers from opposing teams.
As a life-long supporter of the New York Mets since way back in the late 1980s, I never got too excited about the Atlanta Braves making the crosstown trek to Osceola County Stadium to play the Astros. I could do without seeing Mets-killer Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox. But then one afternoon Cox softened me up a bit while his team took batting practice under the bright Florida sun. I’ve never been able to see him in the same way as I once did ever since.