Baseball's World Series spotlights Houston Astros' homerun train

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HOUSTON — Bobby Vasquez has a simple job: Don his overalls, climb to the top of Houston's Minute Maid Park, and take the 56-foot electric replica of a steam locomotive around the track at the top of the stadium every time the Houston Astros score a homerun.

Typically, Vasquez gets to take a victory lap in the 4-4-0 American-type locomotive about once a game. This past Sunday's game against the LA Dodgers, though, was different.

“Holy smokes, what a ballgame,” Vasquez tells Texas Monthly. “This was not only the most exciting, but the most important game I’ve ever seen.”

Not only did that game give Vasquez the chance to take the train around the stadium's 800-foot track five different times, he actually got to participate: The ball that George Springer hit 448 feet for a game-tying home run landed on the tracks. Vasquez stopped the train, picked it up, and made sure it found its way back to Springer's family.

Vasquez is a lifelong Astros fan, and was simply "in the right place at the right time" to begin driving the replica locomotive during an internship for the Astros in 2000. Since then, he has missed only 13 of the 1,400 games held at Minute Maid Park since. He says that his vantage point from the top of the stadium gives him a great view of the games as well as the crowds’ reactions.

“The gravity of everything just felt awesome,” he says. “When Alex Bregman hit the walk-off hit in the tenth, watching the ballpark shake as the crowd erupted — that’s a feeling and a sight and a sound that I’ll never forget.”

Vasquez says that the hard-fought victory is a welcome moral boost as Houston and other cities along the Gulf Coast continue to recover from damaged brought on by Hurricane Harvey.

“We’re now one step away from putting Houston on the top of the world,” he says. “For our fans who’ve been through a lot, what would feel better than bringing home the Commissioner’s Trophy this week?”

See the original article online. 

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