Palm Beach Gardens city manager Ron Ferris remembers the reactions he heard from many area residents when they first heard the Houston Astros were considering moving their spring training operations to the city.
It was 2013 and the Astros were on their way to a third straight 100-loss season, hardly the most attractive draw of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams.
“They were like, ‘How come you got the Astros? Their record isn’t all that great,” Ferris recalled earlier this week.
“I told (Astros owner Jim) Crane, ‘A lot of people are criticizing us because of your team’s record.’
“He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘In three years, we’ll be competing for a championship.”’
Turns out Crane was slightly off in his prediction. It only took two years.
The Astros won the American League wild card game last night with a 3-0 win over the Yankees.
The Astros won’t be moving to Palm Beach Gardens — the city commission rejected that plan in January 2014, a move that eventually led to the Astros and Washington Nationals agreeing to move to a shared complex in West Palm Beach in 2017.
Ferris said he is glad the Astros are coming to Palm Beach County and he has the highest respect for Crane.
“Crane is an amazing individual,” Ferris said. “He has vision and energy.”
Ferris was praised for holding the initial negotiations that eventually led to the West Palm Beach deal. The teams surprised him with a gift — a Louisville Slugger bat engraved with his name.
“I was speechless,” Ferris recalled.
The Astros will open the divisional series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.