8/20/2014 7:39 P.M. ET
Invited to game, high school pal proud of Porter
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Astros manager Bo Porter grew up nearby on the rough-and-tumble streets of Newark, N.J., and was a three-sport athlete at Weequahic High School. Raised by a single mother, Porter -- unlike many of his high school teammates -- managed to avoid the crime and drug problems that derailed the sports careers of many of his friends.
One of Porter's high school teammates and friends, Otis Brown III, also made a name for himself by becoming a Grammy-nominated drummer, and Porter invited Brown and his two sons to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to meet some of the Astros and watch batting practice from the field.
"He's always been the way he is now, really great guy and really focused," Brown said. "It's amazing to see. Coming from Newark to being the youngest manager and one of three African American managers in the Major Leagues is huge. It's really great."
Porter graduated from Weequahic in 1990, two years ahead of Brown, but they moved to varsity about the same time and played baseball together. Brown said Porter was a standout point guard in basketball and quarterback in football and could have succeeded at a higher level in any sport.
"He was an amazing football player at quarterback, and the scouts would always be at the football games looking at him all the time," Brown said. "In a lot of inner cities, there's not a lot of interest in baseball, and a lot of scouts don't come to see baseball. He kind of took off when he got to college, and he gravitated towards that and made a career out of it.
"I always hear how people love playing for him, and we followed him from when he got called up to becoming the coach with the Marlins and third-base coach for the Nationals. My whole family was super excited when he got the job a couple of years ago."
Brown has an album coming out next month, "The Thought of You," on Blue Note records, and Porter said he's going to invite him to his Bo Porter Foundation gala dinner this fall. No word if Brown will be asked to perform.
"He's got two young kids that play baseball, and I told him I think it would be a great experience [to come to the game]," Porter said. "I know how impactful it was for me to come to Yankee Stadium and see a Major League game when I was young."
Years later, missed opportunity haunts Listach
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter still gives Astros third-base coach Pat Listach a hard time about it to this day.
Take a close look at the 1996 Yankees team photo and you'll see Listach in the picture along with a fresh-faced Jeter and Andy Pettitte, Wade Boggs and Tino Martinez, among others. The Yankees won the World Series that year, but Listach doesn't have any fond memories or any ring.
Listach was traded to the Yankees from the Brewers in 1996 along with Graeme Lloyd for outfielder Gerald Williams and pitcher Bob Wickman. But the day before the trade, Listach had fouled a ball off his foot. X-rays were negative, but Listach showed up at Yankee Stadium in pain.
"When I walk in, [manager] Joe Torre and Mr. [George] Steinbrenner are there and I introduce myself, and Joe goes, 'How you feeling?' I said, 'I fouled a ball off my foot a couple of days ago, and it still hurts,'" Listach said.
Torre told Listach he wasn't going to play him until he was healthy, but the injury lingered for a few days.
"I'm hobbling around and taking ground balls, taking fly balls and taking batting practice," Listach said. "So after about three days, Joe goes, 'How do you feel now?' And I said it feels worse. He said to get an MRI, so I get an MRI and it shows a break. They send me back to Milwaukee and they got another player and they won the World Series."
Listach finished the season with the Brewers and signed with the Astros in 1997 before retiring. He still wonders how things might have been different had he not fouled the ball off his foot and was able to remain with the Yankees.
"I think going back, if I am here and we do win that World Series, I think maybe I come back here and spend a few more years," he said. "It didn't happen. You play this game to win a world championship, and there it was, right in front of me."