Former Houston Astros first base coach, Rich Dauer, had a tumultuous off season. After recovering from nearly dying, Dauer’s return to Minute Maid Park is of the utmost importance.
Dauer slipped and fell the night before the Houston Astros won the World Series. He went on to coach that unforgettable game. However, Dauer was unaware of bleeding in his brain. Dauer collapsed part of the way through the World series parade and was rushed to the hospital. He suffered a subdural hematoma. A neurosurgeon performed an emergency surgery to correct the issue, but the family was told there was a low chance of survival.
The surgery was ultimately successful, but it left Dauer in a coma. Fortunately, he woke three days later. However, in spite of a successful surgery Dauer informed the Astros that he would be retiring in November. His recovery process was longer and arduous.
However, Dauer is a fighter and powered through the recovery process. Enough so, that the Astros invited Dauer to the team’s home opener on Tuesday to throw out the first pitch. Dauer’s return to Minute Maid was an emotional one. As he walked back onto the field he called home for three years, he could not help but shed tears. The journey he had as an Astro and the recovery journey he had culminated to this moment.
The man waiting for him on the field was close friend and former boss, AJ Hinch. Hinch and Dauer embraced before taking the plate and mound, respectively. Dauer threw out the first pitch to a standing ovation. It was truly an emotional moment for all, yet it was also an extremely powerful moment.
The Houston Astros are a family
Dauer received his ring, along side all of his former players and co-workers, on Tuesday. It was the second World Series ring that he has received, but it seems this one means more.
"I’m going to wear this one [ring] a lot. When I got the ring with the Orioles, it was awesome because I was a player and on the team. It was awful gaudy, though. It had a lot of diamonds. It was the first of the real diamond [rings]. It was hard to wear it. And now they make them so big that you can’t get them on your finger. The year we went through, the players, it was the best. I can’t wait."
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After the first pitch at Minute Maid Park in 2018, Dauer was repeatedly embraced by nearly every Astros player. Member after member of the team lined up to embrace their former first base coach. From Venezuelan Army Knife, Marwin Gonzalez, to newcomer, Gerrit Cole. Hug after hug, it was apparent that Dauer’s return to the Juice Box was about more than baseball. It was about family and overcoming extreme hardship. Dauer was able to walk back onto the baseball diamond triumphant and on the path to full recovery.
Dauer went from near death to walking onto the field he loves with the team he loves in a matter of months. He overcome many great obstacles, as had this team. Dauer is sure to be around this clubhouse this season and beyond. Just because his team as a coach for this team is over does not mean this family is over. Dauer’s return revealed what is so special about this team.
This team truly loves and cares for one another. It is how they stormed from bottom feeders to contenders in a matter of years. It is how they won a World Series. I’m sure it is part of how Dauer was able to overcome. It is how this team will rally around each other and contend again this year.
Join me as I hope and pray for continued recovery for Rich Dauer.