Astros give Ausmus humorous sendoff
Longtime catcher lauded, ribbed during pregame ceremony
HOUSTON -- One of Brad Ausmus' most endearing traits is his self-deprecating humor, so it was only fitting that the Astros put together a video tribute that was both funny and touching while capturing exactly what the longtime catcher has meant to the organization -- despite the lack of offense.
Ausmus, who wrapped up his 10-year Astros career on Sunday, laughed from the dugout as current and former teammates reflected on the high points of his career, like his game-tying home run in Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series, while poking fun at his famously mediocre career batting average of .251.
"You don't expect 48th-round Draft picks to have any type of day at the big league level honoring them," Ausmus said. "I was very touched. The video was hilarious -- a little payback for all the barbs I've been throwing around this locker room for years. I really enjoyed it."
To Ausmus' chagrin, the video also included clips from a photo shoot he agreed to do for the health section of the local newspaper, one that showed him holding a surfboard, shirtless. Ausmus regretted posing for those photos and was ribbed mercilessly by teammates for weeks after the issue hit the newsstands.
The video had a mostly humorous tone, but it also included clips of several Astros figures -- Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Mark Loretta and Roy Oswalt -- expressing their well-wishes and appreciation for his friendship and his contributions as a teammate.
Ausmus was the last one to appear on the video, thanking the fans and the organization and signing off with, "I will always consider myself a Houston Astro."
Club owner Drayton McLane presented Ausmus with a six-foot-eight Rusty Piranha Quad Fin Surfboard, brick red in color with a large Astros logo at the top.
Ausmus' daughters, Sophie and Abby, concluded the pregame festivities by throwing out the ceremonial first pitches.
As usual, Ausmus had the last word. About an hour after his teammates took their shots at his offense, or lack thereof, Ausmus took Mike Hampton's first-pitch offering and bounced it over the facade behind the left-field Crawford Boxes, marking his third homer of the year.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.