Astros take part in MLK Day Grand Parade
The 2013 Astros CAREavan kicked off on Martin Luther King Day with the first stop at the MLK Day Grande Parade. Manager Bo Porter, pitcher Wesley Wright and former players J.R. Richard and Jimmy Wynn, also an Astros Community Outreach Executive, rode in the parade, but before they hit the route, they reflected on what MLK Day means to them.
“It's extremely special, Porter said. “You just think about the impact Martin Luther King was able to have on our country – it's obvious you look at it and say to yourself what a tribute it is to be able to be a part of.”
“I really can't explain what it means to me because what it means is unexplainable,” Richard said.”It's just something you have to feel.”
“It means everything,” Wright said. “Dr. King did so much for African Americans as well as all people for equality, and to be able to participate in this parade is big. I'm glad I was invited.”
This group was excited to be a part of the very first day of this year's Astros CAREavan.
“Any time you get an opportunity to give back to the city and go to the different functions and allow the Astros to be out in front in the community, it is something we're definitely going to take advantage of,” Porter said.
“I enjoy doing things in the community,” Wynn said. “I'm kind of like the old guy of the CAREavan. I played in the 60s and 70s and want to give back to the fans what the fans gave to me a long time ago.”
“As the season gets near, I think everybody is starting to get that itch for baseball,” Wright said. “It's a good chance to interact with fans and let them know how excited we are about this upcoming season and hoping they are as well. New uniforms, new division, new league – there is a lot of excitement in the air and most of the guys are ready to get to spring training.”
The second stop on the CAREavan tour was at the Astros Urban Youth Academy where they hosted a baseball and softball clinic in the afternoon.
“Anytime you get a chance to teach the game of baseball to the youth of the inner city and help grow the game and provide them with some quality instruction, I'm all for it,” Wright said. “It's something I didn't have growing up and now I have an opportunity to give back, so I always try to take advantage of it when I can.”
“Growing up New Jersey, we didn't have facilities like they have at the Urban Youth Academy,” Porter said. “We didn't have the major league teams come out and get into the community -- not the community in which I was living. So, I want those kids to understand what a privilege it is to have a major league manager, players and former players come out and share their time, wisdom and knowledge with them.”
But the kids taught them something as well.
“They bring energy to me when I see them diving and having fun and loving the game,” Wright said. “It makes me want to give them more. I had a great time out there -- never a dull moment. Kids always come up with something to keep you laughing."
After the clinic, Porter addressed the participants stressing these three elements: practice on your own time, keep a positive mindset and the importance of education.
The stops on Monday were part of over 30 stops the CAREavan will make throughout Houston, central and south Texas and Oklahoma City throughout the week and will conclude at the Astros FanFest on Saturday.