HOUSTON -- The realization he was managing his hometown Astros struck home for Bo Porter on Monday, when he was taking his 4-year-old son, Bryce, to preschool before driving to Minute Maid Park for his first day on the job.
"While I'm driving him to school, one of the things he said was, 'Daddy, I'm so glad you're home and we don't have to go to the baseball house anymore and we get to stay here,'" Porter said. "That sends chills down your spine."
The "baseball house" was where the Porter family, which consists of his wife, Stacey, and their young son, would spend the summers while Bo was coaching. It had been in the Washington area the previous two years and Phoenix the four years prior, but it certainly wasn't home.
Things have certainly changed for the better for the Porter clan, which will now be able to call Houston home year-round after Bo Porter was hired to manage the Astros. He was introduced to the media on Thursday at Minute Maid Park, with his wife and parents glowing with pride in the audience.
"I'm overly elated and thrilled," said his father, Irving Johnson, who lives in New Jersey. "It's something we knew would come and we look forward to it. Now this day is here, I'm just so excited for Bo, excited for the Houston Astros organization and excited for our family. I'm just totally elated about everything."
Perhaps no one was more thrilled than Bo's mother, Beverly Porter, who lives in Houston and labeled Thursday as the best day of her life other than the birth of her three sons (Bo is the oldest). She's a cancer survivor and a contented mother.
"I'm so proud of him," she said. "It's a challenge, but he's always up for a challenge."
|"It's a challenge, but he's always up for a challenge."|
|-- Beverly Porter|
"My mom has been on this journey with me the entire time," Bo said. "I'm so glad [my family is] able to share it with me. My mom, one of the things that I prayed for when she was battling cancer, I said, 'Lord, please allow my mom to be here when I am blessed to manage a Major League Baseball team.' And not only did God deliver on his promise, he delivered it in Houston. So I thank Him, and I thank my family for being here today."
Being able to keep the family together for spiritual and emotional support is one thing, but the logistics of living in one city in the summer, another in the spring and another in the fall presented a different set of challenges.
The Porters have called Houston home for nearly two decades and currently have a house in a suburban community in Fort Bend County, immediately southwest of the city. The drive to Minute Maid Park is less than 30 miles, so the days of long commutes are over.
"It took a lot of energy that you put into traveling someplace and getting there and getting comfortable," Stacey Porter said. "You'll get to Spring Training and then it's time to say goodbye to all our comforts in that city. You get yourself from Spring Training to the season, and before you know it's time to go back home. Now it will happen less."
As a kid growing up in New Jersey, Bo Porter's life was centered on sports. When the three Porter boys weren't outside shooting baskets, they were playing tackle football in the yard or organizing pick-up baseball games with neighborhood kids.
"It didn't matter what season it was: Bo played baseball, Bo played football, he played basketball," his mother said. "I was constantly on the go because it was something that he wanted to do, but we made sure education came first. That was my main goal. If he wanted to play these three sports, he had to bring me great grades."
Porter spent the previous two seasons as third-base coach of the Washington Nationals and worked the four seasons prior to that as the third-base coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks, except for a three-month stint as the team's bench coach. Along the way, he's interviewed for managerial jobs with Florida and Pittsburgh, but nothing tops a chance to manage the Astros.
"I selected them before they selected me," he said.
Stacey Porter is a native Houstonian who ran track and played volleyball at Westbury High School in Houston's west side. The two met on her first day of classes at the University of Iowa when they passed on a sidewalk and Bo stopped to introduce himself. He was a two-sport star -- he played football under legendary coach Hayden Fry -- and later played parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues before getting into coaching.
His father saw leadership skills in his son at an early age, when Bo would organize neighborhood playoffs in various sports at 8 years old. Johnson envisioned his son one day doing great things in sports.
|"He was a leader among his peers and always had a good head on his shoulders."|
|-- Irving Johnson|
Johnson, who closely resembles his son, was a proud father on Thursday. And he has no doubts his son is the right man for the job in Houston.
"I know he's true to his commitment because that's the heart of the man," he said. "I know he's going to be true to himself. There's no doubt in my mind that this program will come up because they have the right man at the helm. As I told Bo, they had a great season in Washington, but better days are yet to come and greater things to come in Houston."