Proving again to be one of the most likable off-the-field teams in professional sports, the Houston Astros took over one of Houston’s hottest style spots for a feel-good fundraiser for some worthy causes at the recent Team Up for Kids and K9s event.
On a day off against the Cleveland Indians, World Series champs José Altuve, Lance McCullers, and Dallas Keuchel held court at fashion mecca Tootsies, which was festooned with Astros photos, a red carpet, and the World Series trophy. The iconic retailer crafted a mix of sports hype and runway elegance.
The Astros trio strolled the carpet, met with media, and spread the word about their individual non-profits: the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which focuses on spaying, neutering, and finding homes for homeless animals; the José Altuve Foundation at Athletes and Causes, which aids The Sunshine Kids Foundation; and the Dallas Keuchel Foundation at Athletes and Causes, which benefits The Sunshine Kids Foundation and animal charities. (The Sunshine Kids focuses on enriching the lives of children with cancer.)
“We owe a lot to Houston fans and the community for the way they’ve embraced us and supported our team,” said McCullers. “I think there’s no better way than for the athletes of Houston to give back and spend some of their time and resources for worthy causes.”
Altuve was quick to deflect and instead to point to his teammates. “I feel really proud of this guy,” said Altuve, motioning to McCullers. “We’re really happy to do anything we can for the city of Houston.” Meanwhile, Keuchel was basking in new hometown pride. “It’s a family relationship with the city,” said Keuchel, who hails from Oklahoma. “I feel like I was almost born in Texas.”
McCullers stressed that one of the easiest ways for Houstonians to help homeless animals is to spay and neuter their animals — and donate and volunteer in shelters. “The animals in shelters are happy, healthy, amazing dogs,” the pitcher said. He reminded that there are “so many rescue groups” where Houstonians can find loving pets, noting that he has a husky and lab mix. (He joked that he’s trying to get three, “but my wife [Kara] is the one who has to deal with them.”)
They were soon joined by teammates Carlos Correa, George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh and Joe Smith. Surprise guest and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio wowed the crowd, and the Houston Texans were represented by Greg Mancz. Meanwhile, BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions introduced adorable pooches up for adoption, who were surprisingly friendly and comfortable as they mingled with the massive crowd.
The event reached a fever pitch during the auction, which featured dinner at B&B Butchers with Kara and Lance McCullers Jr., Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel — and sold multiple times. Up for grabs were custom artwork pieces of McCullers, Altuve, Keuchel, and Verlander by renowned artist Jason Skeldon. There was even a mad dash for McCullers’ pocket square. The event raised $360,000 for the various organizations.
“Man, this was crazy,” the pitcher told CultureMap as the event closed. “The generosity that was shown tonight is really remarkable. We were hoping to raise $200,000 — we’re north of $300,000. You can’t ask for anything more.”
Seen in the crowd: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Gwen Emmett, Terri and John Havens, Chris LaFollette, Joanna and Brad Marks, DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, Julie and Stephen Chen, Melissa Juneau, Hannah McNair, Randy and Raeanne Bates, Leticia and Steve Trauber, Hallie Vanderhider, Vivian Wise, Caroline and Kevin Walter, Bobbie Nau, and Gaye Lynn and Stuart Zarrow.