Once a Houston Astro, always a Houston Astro.
While he now works as a scout for the San Diego Padres, Carson High graduate Charlie Kerfeld will always remain loyal to the Astros. So it comes as no surprise that Kerfeld has been rooting for the Astros in the World Series against the Chicago White Sox.
And while the series hasn't gone the way Kerfeld would have liked with the White Sox on the verge of wrapping up the title on Wednesday, the former CHS standout was still happy to see the Astros make it that far.
It was rewarding to Kerfeld to see the Astros make the World Series after he and his former team came so close to going to the Fall Classic in 1986.
"The Astros put me in the game about 24, 25 years ago," said Kerfeld on Monday from the Dominican Republic where he was scouting for the Padres. "They're the team that gave me the chance. I'll always root for the Astros."
Kerfeld still has several ties to the team. Craig Biggio was Kerfeld's roommate for a half a season when Biggio was a rookie with the Astros.
"He's almost the last of the Mohicans I played with," said Kerfeld about Biggio still playing.
Others who Kerfeld played with during his time with the Astros include Houston manager Phil Garner and first base coach Jose Cruz.
"He's a good guy," Kerfeld also said about Biggio. "He's a real smart kid. He's real street smart.
"He's got tremendous work ethic. He had to do something right. You pull for those guys. Hopefully your friends will get a World Series ring. We're still close friends."
Kerfeld, though, said he was also happy to see the White Sox make the World Series. "Even if the White Sox win it's nice to see a different team win," he said.
During the National League Division Series between the Astros and Atlanta Braves, Kerfeld had a chance to talk with Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemens as he was serving as an advance scout for the Padres, who were playing the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It's nice to see those guys," Kerfeld said. "I've been lucky in my life. I've been able to stay in the game."
Kerfeld, who was a relief pitcher, also sympathized with Astros relief pitcher Brad Lidge, who has had a tough time in the postseason. Lidge gave up the game-winning home run to Scott Podsednik in game two that gave the White Sox a 7-6 victory. "It's tougher now than when I played," said Kerfeld about being a relief pitcher.
Lidge is one of the best closers in the game, Kerfeld said. "Mariano Rivera and maybe one other guy, that's it," said Kerfeld about who may better. "Brad Lidge is the reason the Astros are in the World Series."
But that's not what people will remember, Kerfeld said. "That's the nature of the beast unfortunately," he said.
And if not for a questionable call, Lidge may have not had a chance to give up that home run. Earlier it was ruled that Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Television replays appeared to show that the ball hit Dye's bat. Paul Konerko followed with a grand slam home run that gave the White Sox a 6-4 lead.
"You hate to see an umpire's call decide the series," Kerfeld said. "To me that's a shame."
There have been several questionable calls in the postseason and Kerfeld is afraid that will lead to something he doesn't won't to see. "We're actually gonig to see instant replay and I don't like it," he said.
Kerfeld saw first hand in 1986 how a bad call and bad luck could keep a team out of the World Series. Kerfeld was a rookie with the 1986 Astros, who faced the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.
In game five, a pivotal call involving Craig Reynolds, who appeared to beat out a play at first base, prevented a potential rally for the Astros and the Mets went on to win that game in extra innings to take a 3-2 series lead. Ironically, Kerfeld was the losing pitcher after allowing his only run in four innings of work in the series.
Bob Knepper carried a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning in game six. With the Astros on the verge of winning game six and Mike Scott set to pitch game seven and considered a virtual lock to win, Houston looked to be on the verge of heading to the Series. But the Mets rallied against Knepper and won in extra innings to clinch the pennant.
Kerfeld is scouting the Dominican Republic winter league and likes what he sees pitching-wise. But he also says it makes a statement about pitching in the U.S.
"The best arms are coming from the Dominican," Kerfeld said. "It's kind of sad, actually."
When asked if American pitchers are babied too much, Kerfeld said, "Without a doubt. Organizations babe these kids too much."
Kerfeld noted that when he broke camp with the Astros, the team carried eight pitchers. Now 11 or 12 is the norm.
He said if it was up to him, pitchers wouldn't be babied as much, but "my opinion means nothing."
When Kerfeld signed, he received a $50,000 signing bonus. He said he's been told that if he signed now, he'd receive a bonus of $4.5 million.
"I probably wouldn't have made it to the Major Leagues," said Kerfeld about lackiing the hunger if he had received such a huge signing bonus.
Kerfeld said he would like to see a limit placed on signing bonuses. He also said he could never be an amateur scout.
He said if he had to go into a teenager's home and negotiate a multi-million signing bonus, "I'd probably hang myself."
But otherwise has no problem in what the players make. "More power to them," said Kerfeld about the players. "There's no owner not making money."