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 drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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