HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: What is next for the Hall of Fame?

Hakeem Olajuwon is one of three in the Houston Hall. Who is next? Photo by Tim DeFrisco/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

Think of it as one giant first step for Houston. Honestly, three of them.

Yes, we’re talking about the new Houston Sports Hall of Fame, which will start with a Walk of Fame that stretches from the House of Blues through the GreenStreet Promenade.

It’s a bold and long overdue idea that has Houston buzzing.

Who should be in? Who shouldn’t? How many in each class? What do we do with the pioneers like Judge Roy Hofheinz? Jack Burke, Jr., and Jimmy Demaret? Jess Neely?

So many questions. A lot of time left to ponder and eventually answer them.

But right now it’s back to those steps.

What we know for sure is those first honorees are the Legendary 34s – Nolan Ryan, Earl Campbell and Hakeem Olajuwon. It doesn’t get much better than those three, who were all under the same roof at the same event for the first time ever last Thursday at the Houston Sports Awards.

This summer we will get a glimpse of phase one of that Hall, which was announced at the Houston Sports Awards. The renderings show plaques along the middle of the sidewalk honoring the inductees and those first three plaques will belong to Nolan, Earl and Hakeem. Their plaques will each have their signatures and will get a lot of foot traffic from GreenStreet shops and restaurants, which is a neutral site. In other words, it is not tied to one of Houston’s major sports teams.

The Walk will grow from there.

Plans for future phases include state-of-the-art LED video displays and interactive experiences. The last phase will be a brick-and-mortar interior space where reknown Houston artist Opie Otterstad’s 8-foot high paintings of the 34s will be displayed.

“The Houston Sports Awards had been a dream of mine for more than a decade, and to end that incredible night with the announcement of the Houston Sports Hall of Fame, made that dream even bigger,’’ said Harris County - Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke.

“This is something all of Houston will celebrate and is long overdue. So many great athletes have come from here and have played here, and to celebrate and honor them with a Hall of Fame is something bigger than all of us, and will outlast us all.’’

She, too, couldn’t have dreamed of a better inaugural class, calling the 34s “easily three of the most revered athletes ever to play in their respective sports and we couldn’t be prouder to honor them as our first inductees.”

The Harris County - Houston Sports Authority is partnering with Midway and Lionstone on the project.

Brad Freels, Chairman of Midway, called the renderings of the project “an inspiring vision for the Houston Sports Hall of Fame in GreenStreet. We look forward to welcoming our neighbors and visitors from around the world to this new attraction honoring the spirit, dedication and courage of our hometown sports heroes.

 “With the opening of Hotel Alessandra, downtown’s acclaimed boutique luxury hotel, and a thoroughly re-imagined three city-block urban mixed-use campus of GreenStreet, Midway and Lionstone Investments are creating a unique experience that celebrates the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial energy of Houston unlike any other place.”

It will also be a place where Houstonians can celebrate some of the best athletes to play in the city and give visitors a chance to experience a little about some Hall of Famers they may only know by name.

And Houstonians? We’ll spend much of the next few months debating who will be honored at next year’s Houston Sports awards and just who should be honored in that second 2019 HOF Class.

Should Houston look at Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell? Hakeem’s Phi Slama Jama and Rockets buddy Clyde Drexler? A pioneer or two?

For the time being, just keep the buzz going. We’ll know soon enough who will follow in the footsteps – and plaques on the Walk -- of three of the best Houston has ever seen.

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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