With the MLB playoffs underway, casual fans are clambering on to whichever bandwagon happens to be nearest them, but it would be tough to find a team that has a more experienced fan than the Astros.
Walter Peine, who was born and raised in Houston, will turn 102 years old on Oct. 20 and his only birthday wish is to see the Astros in the World Series.
He has been watching professional baseball in Houston since way before the Astros existed, attending Houston Buffs games as a child when they were a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Peine often would go to West End Park and Buff Stadium with his brother Leon, but he can’t remember anything too specific about those games, other than that his favorite player was Dizzy Dean, who pitched for the Buffs in 1930 and 1931 when Peine was a teenager.
“Wherever [Leon] went, he would take me with him.” Peine said.
Peine, who thinks he and his brother used to get into the games for a quarter each, continued to follow the team closely until the Colt .45s brought Major League Baseball to town and eventually became the Astros.
A large portion of his time as a Houston baseball fan was spent watching young players in the minors, which Peine says he enjoyed just as much as watching the big leaguers.
“I used to watch all the better players that I figured would eventually go to the big leagues,” said Peine, who would go on to join the Navy Reserve and the Coast Guard. “I would watch them in college [and in the minors]. The skills that the better players had – watching them catch, run and bat … that’s what I liked about baseball. But there were so many things happening at that time … war and everything … I couldn’t keep up with all of them.”
Now, that original depot building is the main entrance to Minute Maid Park, so a flood of fond memories washes over Peine every time he gets to go to an Astros game.
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