BOBBLEHEAD MVPS

The Astros are heavy hitters when it comes to bobblehead popularity

Jose Altuve's bobblehead is in high demand. Houston Astros.com

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

With the Houston Astros 2019 opener barely a month away, it's time to get down to serious business. Like, how many bobblehead giveaways will there be this season?

Answer: Nine, with a few more specials, like Star Wars and Game of Thrones-themed b'heads available for sale.

"Bobbleheads are one of the most popular gate (free) giveaways we provide for our fans," says Anita Sehgal, Astros senior vice president marketing and communications. "Many of our fans treat these as collector items and it gives us a chance to showcase a player, a special moment, or create a series of them where fans want to obtain the entire collection. Our team also has done a great job on the box art and many fans cherish the packaging as much as the bobblehead."

Sehgal did not say which players would be immortalized in ceramic and plastic this year, or what dates they'll be given away. The Astros use a few different companies to produce their bobbleheads, but most come from BDA and Success Promotions. The players do not see their bobbleheads prior to production. So far, no complaints, though.

Bobbleheads, or "Bobbing Heads" or "Nodders," have become such a part of the baseball experience that a Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum recently opened in Milwaukee. We can't snicker. Houston is home to the National Museum of Funeral History. Given a choice, I'd rather be headed to the Bobblehead Museum...than beheaded in the Funeral Museum.

I contacted Bobblehead HOF co-founder Phil Sklar and ran 10 questions by him. Of course, I wanted to know how much presence the Astros command.

Ken Hoffman: How many bobbleheads are on display in the museum?

Phil Sklar:
We have about 6,500 unique bobbleheads on display and about 10,000 in the collection. This gives us the opportunity to have several bobbleheads from each team and all different genres on display at any given time. We are also able to rotate bobbleheads in and out and change things up so that people will always find new bobbleheads when they visit.

KH: What was the first bobblehead?

PS:
Most people are surprised that the first bobblehead dates back to the 1760s in a painting of Queen Charlotte of England. We have a pretty extensive history section on our website, bobbleheadhall.com.

KH: When did bobbleheads catch fire as MLB giveaways? Which team was first to use bobbleheads as a promotion? Who was the first baseball bobblehead?

PS:
The first bobblehead giveaway was on May 9, 1999. It was a Willie Mays bobblehead by the San Francisco Giants. The marketing team wanted some very special promotions during the final season at Candlestick Park. Soon nearly every team was doing a bobblehead giveaway.

KH: What is the holy grail of bobbleheads, the most valuable and hardest to find?

PS: That would have to be an oversized New York Yankees promotional bobblehead from 1961 which sold for just under $60,000 ($59,750 to be exact) a few years ago. We've seen some sell in the $30,000 range, but nothing that high before or after. You can see the picture of that one at the history link on our website.

KH: How many Astros bobbleheads are on display?

PS:
We have about a dozen Astros bobbleheads on display right now and just switched out the full set of Houston Astros 2017 World Series Bobbleheads with the 2018 Boston Red Sox on our 'Champions Wall' that features the most recent baseball, football, basketball and hockey champions.

The Astros World Series bobbleheads are among the most popular champions bobbleheads ever because it was the team's first title. Of the ones currently on display, I really like the Nolan Ryan bobblehead from the early 2000s with the vintage Astros rainbow uniform. Other Astros bobbles include: Final Out of 2017 World Series, Alex Bregman, Charlie Morton, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer, and Jose Altuve-Carlos Correa Celebration.

KH: What about politicians, rock stars, and other bobbleheads? How do they compare with baseball bobbleheads?

PS: Popularity is a bit difficult to determine. Given the number of teams and number of games, there are far more baseball bobbleheads than any other type. However, there are bobbleheads in nearly every category, from politicians to actors, super heroes, celebrities, animals and every sport. All of those categories have some very popular bobbleheads.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the long-term collectability and value of bobbleheads.

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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