The 4th Annual George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit drew 450 Astros fans and supporters of Camp SAY: A Summer Camp for Young People Who Stutter, who chipped in $200,000-plus — that’s more than double last year’s haul, and a record for the charity.
It was a pretty good day for Springer all around. Not only did his charity enjoy a mega-successful event, but the Astros finished a sweep of the Chicago White Sox, and he was named to the American League All-Star Team.
The fundraiser was held at Bowlmor Lanes. Celebrities, teammates, and athletes from other sports had Springer’s back. Some were good bowlers, some should never be allowed to rent shoes again.
Among the local media superstars: Channel 11 weather wonder Chita Craft (her 15-month-old son’s favorite word is “bubbles”), Houston Live host Courtney Zavala, Great Day Houston host and songbird Deborah Duncan, debonair radio ace Michael Garfield, Channel 13 sports anchor (and my former radio co-host) David Nuno, KHOU news anchor Ron Trevino, and Houston Chronicle society reporter Amber Elliott.
Athletic supporters: Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus, Texans alum Chester Pitts, and new Rocket Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — who played his high school ball in America’s garden spot, Elizabeth, N.J. Astros teammates: pitchers Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers, Tony Sipp, and outfield speedster Tony Kemp.
As long as you and I are here, put it there (thanks, Paul) … 10 Questions, Tony Kemp.
Ken Hoffman: When was the first time somebody asked for your autograph?
Tony Kemp: It was my second year in college [Vanderbilt]. It caught me by surprise. I wound up printing my name: "Tony Kemp."
KH: Do you prefer short or long baseball pants?
TK: I like short pants because it makes me look taller. (Kemp is five feet, seven inches.)
KH: When you drive home from Minute Maid Park, what is your go-to drive-thru?
TK: Whataburger, I get the No. 1 with no onions.
KH: When you were a kid, who was your baseball hero?
TK: Ken Griffey Jr. He was my guy. He was amazing. I dreamed of being able to play like he did.
KH: Have you ever been thrown out of game, and what was the last thing you said before you got the heave-ho?
TK: Yes, I was thrown out of a game in Double A. It wasn’t anything I said. It was an equipment violation. I threw my helmet.
KH: Who is the funniest Astros player in the clubhouse?
TK: Easy … George Springer!
KH: How much does it hurt to be hit by a 95-mph fastball?
TK: It depends where you get hit, but no matter where, a lot! If you get hit in the ribs, that’s the worst. I got hit in the thigh and that leaves a mark. The only time it doesn’t hurt to get hit is when you have two strikes on you, because it means you’re getting on first base.
KH: Which team has the best clubhouse buffet for the players?
TK: The Yankees. Whatever you can think of, they have it. (Prime rib?) They have it. (Lobster?) They have it. I go back three times with my plate when we play up there.
KH: What do you do on the road to deal with boredom?
TK: Video games. FIFA, Call of Duty, Fortnite. (What’s your gamer tag?) Happy Go Lucky.
KH: What’s the dumbest superstition among Astros players that might actually work?
TK: One player — I won’t say his name — has to put on his socks at exactly the perfect minute before each game. It might be 10:24 that game, and he will wait until that minute. It seems to be working, though.