Berkman, Hooton Texas Hall inductees
Astros among 10 honored by Sports Hall of Fame
HOUSTON -- You won't find a person more proud of his Texas roots than Astros first baseman Lance Berkman, who was born in Waco, spent some of his childhood in Austin, went to high school in New Braunfels and played his college and professional ball in Houston.
That's why Berkman was thrilled to be one of 10 people inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Monday in Waco, a list that included former Astros pitching coach Burt Hooton. Berkman joins former Astros teammates Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who were inducted in 2004.
"This is truly a dream come true for a guy from Texas," Berkman said. "You know what I think of the state, which is a lot. Being born there in Waco, the whole thing comes full circle. That sounds corny, but it's really kind of the icing on the cake because that's where I started out."
Others inducted Monday included Tennessee Titans and former Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, former Rice University quarterback Tommy Kramer and former Dallas Cowboys Dan Reeves, Chuck Howley and Harvey Martin. Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, former Baylor receiver Lawrence Elkins and basketball pioneer Max Williams were also inducted.
"The whole evening was tremendous and getting to hang out with all the other inductees was really cool," Berkman said. "I had never been around Dan Reeves or Chuck Howley, and I enjoyed visiting with them and they had some great stories. Tommy Kramer is another Rice guy, so that was cool. Coach Mulkey and I hit it off."
Berkman, who turns 34 on Wednesday, is one of baseball's best switch-hitters and ranks in the top 10 in every major offensive category in Astros history, including second in home runs (313) and third in RBIs (1,049), walks (980), doubles (359) and total bases (2,923).
When he found out he was being inducted, Berkman was honored. But it wasn't until he got to Waco and saw the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in person that the importance of the honor sunk in.
"It wasn't until I got there and started looking around to see what a big deal the place is and how many great athletes are there," Berkman said. "It's pretty overwhelming."
Baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, who was born in Winters, Texas, and went to school in Fort Worth, is in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, along with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, who was born in Hubbard, Texas, and went to school at Texas Wesleyan.
"Those are truly great players, and along with Biggio and Bagwell and a lot of great football players, it's just a neat deal," Berkman said. "They opened a new [exhibit] on the Southwest Conference, which I'm pumped up about. I loved the Southwest Conference.
"It's sort of a great way to capture what I consider to be the greatest era of sports in Texas, which was the heyday of the Southwest Conference. That was a neat exhibit. It's a neat place, and if people haven't been there it's a not a Mickey Mouse deal. It's a big-time Hall of Fame and very well done."
Hooton, who grew up in Corpus Christi and attended the University of Texas, played 15 seasons in the Majors and was a National League All-Star in 1981 and was the Most Valuable Player of the NL Championship Series that season and helped the Dodgers win the World Series.
Hooton, 60, was pitching coach of the Astros from 2000-04 and is currently in his second stint at pitching coach of the Astros' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.