Astros Honor the Hometown Fallen Heroes

June 5, 2013
The Astros are wearing special patches in honor of the firefighters.

Amazing Grace played by bagpipers isn't something you usually hear in a baseball stadium.

But, that's what thousands in Minute Maid Park heard Tuesday night as the Houston Astros paid tribute to their hometown heroes -- four firefighters who lost their lives searching for victims in a raging motel fire.

The Astros are wearing special patches on the front of their uniforms in honor of the firefighters. Flags outside the stadium are at half mast.

Video of tribute.

Also, firefighters and their immediate families -- including those in town for the memoriral service -- will receive free tickets for the current homestand that ends Thursday afternoon.

Baseball writers covering the Astros/Baltimore Orioles game said the horrific loss and moving tribute hit home for several players.'s Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire wrote:

"My dad was a firefighter and a police officer," said Houston reliever Brad Peacock. "This means a lot to me. I know what he did every day and how he went out there to help people. Wearing this patch and everything else is the least we can do."

He's not the only player on the team with a similar background.

Astros catcher Jason Castro comes from a family of firefighters. His grandfather, father and brother have all been or continue to serve on the job.

"It hit close to home when I heard what happened," Castro said. "I'm so proud to wear this patch because I think those families need to see that communal solidarity. I can sympathize with them. Sometimes, that's the best way to show support."

Castro's father was a truck engineer and police captain for several decades and his brother just started his duty two years ago. Castro said he thought about entering the family business before baseball, and he remembers the grueling demands and concerns for firefighter families.

"I grew up with my dad being gone for days," he said. "He worked 24-hour shifts, and there was always a wonderment about what was going on when you heard a siren. There's always that fear. You obviously never want it to go beyond that fear."

Houston pitcher Bud Norris' grandfather served as a firefighter for more than 30 years in Southern California. Norris said he remembers how much commitment the job required and heard firsthand stories of dealing with deadly forest fires.

"You hear all the tales and just sit in awe a little," Norris said. "That's their lifestyle, they understand what they're signing up for. If you're a family member, you know that, too. They're the unsung heroes out there. Wearing this patch doesn't change the events, but it's our honor to do it."


AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Cody Duff
A firefighter is wheeled to an ambulance after fighting a fire at the Southwest Inn, Friday, May 31, 2013, in Houston.

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