LANCE TALKS TURKEY

Astros fan favorite pitches in to help needy locals for Thanksgiving

Houston Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. handed out turkeys to local families. Photo by Nelson Venegas

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

On a crisp Saturday morning, Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. happily posed for photos, shook hands, and passed out free turkeys to needy locals at the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Greater Houston headquarters near downtown. In all, some 150 turkeys were delivered to families who otherwise would've missed out on a Thanksgiving main course.

"We're glad to hand these out to people who work hard — they deserve a stress-free holiday," McCullers told CultureMap at the event. "I consider myself a Houstonian. I've lived here for four years. My daughter is about to be born here. This city has embraced me and my family — everywhere we go, people couldn't be more gracious to us."

Hoping to give back ahead of Thanksgiving, McCullers approached Big Brothers Big Sisters about lining up families who otherwise might not afford the single biggest expense on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table: the turkey.

According to a 2018 study by the United States Department of Agriculture, 14.3 million Americans were food insecure throughout the year, a situation made all the more dire on a local level when the Houston Food Bank was forced to throw out nearly two million pounds of food worth $3 million, contaminated from an ammonia leak in one of its coolers. The turkeys were provided by ThrIVe Drip Spa.

For McCullers, the giveaway is all part of his belief in paying it forward, no matter how grand or modest the gesture. "People have a lot of things going on in their lives — work, family, stresses," he said. "You'd be surprised what a little can do. People really appreciate a little effort: hold the door for someone or just ask, 'Hey, how are you doing today,' smile at somebody — just give a little bit of grace."

Continue on CultureMap to read about McCuller's busy offseason.

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This is a tasty burger. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If a person isn't a real Houstonian until they have favorite places for staple foods like burgers and Tex-Mex, then Astros pitcher Justin Verlander has officially embraced his new home.

In an interview that occurred during the Thursday, August 11 broadcast of the Astros game against the Texas Rangers, YouTube announcer Scott Braun asked Verlander if he found any food in Houston that he couldn't get in Detroit.

"I like Nancy's Hustle's burger," the pitching ace replied.

Indeed, what's not to like? The Nancy's burger — a double patty cheeseburger with chopped onions, pickles, and aioli on a housemade brioche English muffin — has been a staple since the restaurant opened in late 2017. Here it is, as captured by Houston food influencer Abbas Dhanani.

Beyond its deliciousness, Verlander's affection for the burger makes a certain amount of logistical sense. The EaDo restaurant is only about a mile from Minute Maid Park, and it stays open until 11 pm, making it a perfect post-game treat.

Nancy's co-owner Sean Jensen tells CultureMap that he and chef-owner Jason Vaughan consider Verlander and his wife, supermodel Kate Upton, to be regulars. "They have always been supporters and super nice when they visit," he writes in an email.

Continue on CultureMap to learn more.

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