Drayton McLane had two goals in mind when he bought the Houston Astros professional baseball team 13 years ago.
Drayton McLane had two goals in mind when he bought
the Houston Astros professional baseball team 13 years ago.
The first was to turn the Astros into a champion.
Neither the Astros nor their in-state counterparts, the Texas Rangers,
had been to a World Series before – and McLane wanted to remedy that.
He says he thought the people of Texas deserved a winner.
McLane still is working on that objective, as the
Astros have not yet made it to a World Series. Their best chance was
last year, when they took the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games in the
National League Championship Series. And since the Astros are more than
a dozen games out of first place so far in 2005, that goal likely will
have to wait at least another year.
But the second goal is another story.
In addition to reaching the World Series, McLane
says he was determined to use the Astros as an outreach tool. A member
and deacon at First Baptist Church of Temple, Texas, McLane says he
wanted to use the team’s recognition and the role models on the roster
to make a positive influence in the community.
“I want to get involved and stand for spiritual
values,” McLane says. “We’re trying to use the influence and
recognition of the players and the team to represent noble purposes.”
McLane makes no apologies for insisting that the
Astros stand for integrity, honesty and high Christian principles. That
commitment can even affect personnel decisions. Although he says he
respects the religious beliefs of everyone on the team, he expects his
players to stay out of trouble.
“When players don’t behave properly, we move them
on,” he says. “We have one of the best clubhouses in Major League
Baseball. They’re congenial; they get along well together.”
That philosophy has led to a team full of decent
men, many of whom are Christians – including Lance Berkman, Morgan
Ensberg, Andy Pettitte, Adam Everett and Orlando Palmeiro, among
The Astros have an active community-relations
department and are the only team in baseball with a full-time chaplain.
The team was involved in more than 3,000 events in Houston last year,
including visits to youth groups, senior citizens groups and hospitals.
Team chaplain Gene Pemberton also conducts a team
Bible study twice a week when the Astros are at home. When they are
traveling, Berkman takes over that role.
All of that is due to McLane’s influence.
“He’s very outward in being a Christian,” Ensberg says of the team owner.
“That’s pretty admirable. You’re in a time when some
of that might be looked down upon by a lot of people, and yet, he
stands in the face of that.”
McLane says one of his priorities is to develop a
strong relationship with his players. He constantly is in the locker
room, talking to players and showing an interest in them as people, not
just as commodities to win baseball games.
“I try to get a personal relationship with every
player we’ve got – know them all personally, spend time with them,”
“I get to know all their families.”
Palmeiro vouches for McLane’s concern for the players on his team.
“Last year, I asked for a minute of his time, and he
gave me more than a minute of his time,” Palmeiro recounts. “He made
time for me.
“There’s so much stuff going on, and he remembered me. I was impressed with that.”
While McLane’s goal of winning a championship has
remained elusive, he obviously has been much more successful with his
second goal. And ultimately, it figures to be the more important one