Former Astro catches up with old friends
One thing I love about my job is the people I get to meet along the way. One of those people is former Houston Astros pitcher Billy Wagner. From the first time I interviewed him back in 2003, and even now, he has always taken the time to come up to me to say hello and talk.
On a recent trip to Houston with his new team, The Philadelphia Phillies, Wagner once again came through, giving me his time and sharing with me how much he misses being in the Houston area.
Wagner, 34, was traded to the Phillies prior to the 2004 season. It was a trade he was not happy with at the time, but has made the adjustments. Currently, he has 24 saves and a 1.97 ERA with the Phillies. He definitely is giving them what he gave the Astros for so many years – talent, skill and a strong work ethic.
MM: What is life like in
BW: A little bit more hectic. It’s not as laid back as
. There’s a little bit more media and a lot more traffic!
MM: Does your family like it there?
BW: Well, they’ve been there just about a month. They seem to like it a lot. They get to come to the ballpark as we don’t live to far away, so they enjoy it a bit.
MM: Do you miss Houston?
BW: Oh yeah, definitely! I was here for ten years and I’ve got a lot of fans and friends here. It will always be like home to me. I really miss my friends and the community.
MM: Have you been able to stay in touch with any of the Astros?
BW: I’ve stayed in touch with the guys I played with like Baggy (Jeff Bagwell), Bidge (Craig Biggio), Ausmus (Brad), and Brad Lidge. Guys like that.
MM: What do you like to do in
BW: Not much. You know, where we play, it’s always get to bed late and get up early, so if I do anything, it’s mostly play with the kids.
MM: What is the best thing about playing in
BW: (laughs) The cheese steaks. Honestly, I think it’s more the way the crowd reacts. They are very intense and you’ve got to play hard. It’s always a tough situation when you come in there.
MM: Who is the funniest guy on your team and have they played any pranks on you?
BW: Oh, that’s a tough one. It would have to be between Todd Pratt and Jason Michaels. Thank goodness, they haven’t played any pranks on me. I guess I’ve got too much time so they don’t give me too much grief.
MM: What advice to you have for kids who would like to be able to throw a fastball like you one day?
BW: All I can say is just throw a lot, play a lot of catch, and build your arm up.