Drayton McLane has always been someone that I have looked up to.
Ever since I can remember, he has owned the Astros.
When I was in the second grade, we had season tickets to the Astros at the old Astrodome. Back then, I thought it would be so cool to be able to own a baseball team, and sit in the good seats all the time.
Every time we saw him we would wave from the stands and shout hello. He would always smile and wave at us, not having a clue who we were. It didn’t matter. He was a people person, and he made us feel like we were one of the most important kids there.
During that same school year, our teacher, Mrs. Brisbay assigned a school project and had all her students research a famous person. We then had to dress up and become that person for a “wax museum” we had at school. My brother Cameron and I both wanted to be Drayton McLane, so we had to flip a coin. He won. He dressed up in khaki pants, a red button collar shirt and an Astros hat, and had lots of people stop to hear his speech. He was pretty popular. I was former Florida Marlins second baseman Craig Counsell, who had just won a World Series.
McLane’s success started when he was very young. He was born in Cameron, Texas, where his family owned a grocery store business. When he was nine, he would work there on Saturdays and in the summers. He went to college at Baylor University and then got a master’s degree in marketing from Michigan State University. He returned to the family business and turned it into an international business worth millions of dollars.
When Mr. McLane bought the Astros in 1993, one of his first goals was to help make a difference in the community. Because he believes every kid is a winner, they became very involved in charity events and educational programs. My brothers and I won tickets to Astros games several times in the Straight A program that they had.
When he is not in Houston running the organization, McLane lives with his wife Elizabeth in Temple, Texas.
Under his ownership, the Astros have reached the post season in five of the last eight seasons, hosted an All-Star game and won the 2004 Wild Card berth and advanced to the National League Championship Series. He also signed pitcher Roger Clemens, who had a real impact on the team the past two seasons. Clemens won his 7th Cy Young Award as an Astro.
He is still committed to bringing a World Series Championship to Houston.
These days when I see Mr. McLane, I still look up to him, but in a different way. I now know how much hard work it took for him to get to where he is today and that running a baseball team is no easy task. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that he still smiles, waves and makes me feel like the most important kid in the park.
MM: What’s it like to own the Astros?
DM: When we win it’s a whole of fun. When we lose, you don’t have nearly as much fun, but it’s awfully exciting and the players are very nice. The best part is the fans. I love being around the fans.
MM: What’s it like to have the best seat in the stadium?
DM: Oh I enjoy that. It’s a lot of fun but my wife takes over most of the time. (laughs) When you get married you’ll find that out too. I enjoy it and its fun to have guests come down and sit with us.
MM: If you were stuck on an island and you could have anybody with you, who would that be?
DM: I’ll take my wife. She’s a wonderful person to go with, and my two sons Drayton III who is 29, and Denton who is 26.
MM: If someone made a movie about you, who would play you?
DM: Wow! I never thought about that! I don’t go to that many movies so Kevin Costner would be a good one. He makes good baseball movies.
MM: Tell me something about you few people know.
DM: When I was real young I was shy. People would always ask me questions and I was so shy, but I’ve also always enjoyed being around people.
MM: Name someone you’d like to meet.
DM: I would have loved to have met Winston Churchill. He was a hero of mine. I would have also liked to have met someone even before him, like Abraham Lincoln. One of the persons I admire most is Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Just before we moved from the Astrodome, I invited him to a game and he came and it was awfully fun meeting him.
MM: If you could visit any place where would you go to?
DM: I like to travel. I travel somewhere every week. I travel all over the world but I would love to climb Mt.Everest. I would have loved to have done that.
MM: The thing that bugs you most is…
DM: People who are not very tolerant. People need to be a little more tolerant, and a little more understanding. They form opinions too fast and then jump to conclusions. They should have more patience.
MM: What is your favorite meal?
DM: Oh, I’ve got lots of them. Mexican food, like enchiladas and tacos. I also enjoy eating steak. I enjoy all the meals but I don’t like chicken.
MM: Do you have any hobbies?
DM: I enjoy people. That’s my favorite hobby. It relaxes me, so I enjoy that very much.
MM: What is the best thing about owning a baseball team?
DM: The fans, the people, and trying to bring a championship to Houston.