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49 seasons of Houston pro baseball: From Colt .45s to Hunter Pence, one man's perfect quest

49 seasons of Houston pro baseball: From Colt .45s to Hunter Pence, one man's perfect quest

Editor's note: The Carr Brothers attended their 49th home opener, against the Florida Marlins, on Friday night. Here's a look at their long-time devotion to Houston professional baseball in an article that was first published on CulutreMap on April 6, 2010.

It was 1962 when the boys attended their very first home opener — when the Astros were still the Colt .45s and the bathrooms were roofless. Their dad offered to drive the boys to school (highly unusual) and made a pit stop to get some change for lunch money and buy his sons each a Lotta Cola and a Hostess cupcake.

When the foursome approached the cashier, he rang them up and feigned a look of surprise. "I've got somethin' for ya," the cashier said, and pulled four tickets to the baseball game out of the cash drawer.

"We never missed school growing up," recalls Mike Carr, then 11 years old. "We won that first game. The excitement — you woulda thought we won the World Series."

It's 48 seasons later and Mike has never missed a single home opener. He says his streak never dawned on him until the opening of Minute Maid Park, when he was (initially) denied his usual group seats. Mike and his brothers have been running an Opening Day golf tournament for the last 14 years, and bring 85 to 100 people to the game each year.

"That's when I started counting," Mike says. "It was kinda like breathing; opening day, we went to the ball game. And since the Astros were rarely good, it was always easy to get tickets. We (usually) worked for ourselves, so it was easy to get off."

Opening Day is so akin to breathing for Mike that he wasn't sure he could survive missing it, going so far one year as to quit his job when he couldn't get the afternoon off.

The ballpark still doesn't sell group tickets on opening day, but they make an exception for Mike Carr.

He says his favorite season was when the Astros brought on Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte in 2004. "You could've lit Houston with the feel of that stadium," he recalls, although acquiring Nolan Ryan, baseball's first million-dollar-man, in 1980 was a pretty great year, too.

Still, nothing compares to that first game, when Roman Mejias hit two home runs to crush the Chicago Cubs.

"There are two perfect things in this world," Mike says. "The first is a perfect pour of Guinness. The second is 90 feet in baseball. A baseball field is a baseball field; the modern world hadn't affected it so much. If he gets (you) within 90 feet, you're out. Don't matter who you are."

This year the Opening Day golf tournament crowd was about 110 people, seated behind left field — the same view Mike Carr had for his very first game. We had our rally hats on, but ultimately, it wasn't enough. We lost to the San Francisco Giants 5-2. It didn't matter, though.

"Baseball is one of those games that slows life down a little bit and we can take a breath and visit," Mike tells me.

I'm glad we did.

Mike Carr has seen every game in Houston's MLB history.
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David and Mike Carr attended their first home opener in 1962 — when the Astros were still the Colt 45s. Photo by Caroline Gallay
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The crowd was enthusiastic, but ultimately it wasn't enough. We lost to the Giants 5 - 2. Photo by Caroline Gallay
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Will Hunter Pence be our next star? Either way, he's nice to look at. Photo by Caroline Gallay