When the Houston Astrodome officially opened for National League play in April 1965, we were the Astros opponent in the inaugural game. Before the game, the 29 Mercury Program astronauts were all honored, preceded by an introduction of the original seven that had been chosen. Naturally, I was transfixed.
As I was waiting for the ceremonies to begin, a wiry built civilian came down into the dugout, approached me, sat down, and we began talking. He explained that he was an astronaut in training, part of the second wave of newer astronauts, and was from a small town in Ohio, just as I also was. We exchanged pleasantries for 10 or 15 minutes before he decided hed better rejoin the activities on the field. Upon departing, he shook my hand and said, by the way, my name is Neil Armstrong, what is yours? I remember thinking to myself at the time, none of these astronauts are very big men, restricted in stature by capsule space and payload limitations, but huge in outright courage.
... Our meeting is my most cherished moment from professional baseball. It was not my first hit, or my first home run, or any statistic about baseball. It was getting to meet and having that isolated conversation with Neil Armstrong, before he ever made it into space, or walked on the moon. Looking at both the past and the future, I dont regard Christopher Columbus as having anything on Neil Armstrong. Few, if any, have made a greater contribution to our country, or to the world community, than he did. What a remarkable legacy he leaves us. (Full Text)
John Herrnstein University of Michigan (59) and former player for the Philadelphia Phillies.