From Coach to Collector
A ballpark of Astros bobbleheads
Meet David Schwartz, retired Little League coach and the proud owner of more than 150 Astros bobbleheads.
From the outside of his lovely two-story Bellaire home, you would never know the museum that resides inside. A smiling David Schwartz energetically shakes his guests’ hands and makes sure he has their names right. He’s a details guy like that.
David grew up in Austin, played baseball for the mighty Austin High Maroons and attended The University of Texas. His energetic personality inspires first-time visitors to have a delightful chat and feel like they are reconnecting with a long-lost friend. David leads the way to his sunny man cave/great room/office, also known as his Houston Astros Bobblehead Museum.
Cue up angels singing and golden rays of light streaming across the room. Displayed on a wall of shelves, 150 oversized plastic heads attached with springs for necks above their miniature bodies stare at you, just daring you to poke them so they can start wiggling. They strike different poses – pitching, batting, wearing gnome hats, pointing light sabers, holding up World Series trophies. The glare bounces off all the giant white smiling teeth. It’s an Astros fan’s nirvana.
Yes, all 150 of the bobbleheads are Astros.
The legends of 2017 World Series glory are represented: Altuve, Springer, Correa, Bregman, Verlander, Morton, McCullers, Gurriel, Gattis, Reddick, McCann, Gonzalez, Keuchel, Beltran, Harris, Hinch, Peacock, Musgrove….
Then there are those who played on the diamonds in the Astrodome, Enron and Minute Maid all those years before Houston got the ring: Ryan, Clemens, Cruz, Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman, Castro, Pence, Pettitte, Oswalt, Bourn, Valverde, Myers, Scott, Wynn, Ausmus, Alou, Wagner, Cedeno, Richard, Niekro, Morgan, Davis, Caminiti, Dierker, Thon, Watson, Rasmus….
David has followed the Astros since he was a kid. He shares that all of the bobbleheads were stadium giveaways, which adds to the fun. He started collecting them around 2002 when the Astros moved into the new stadium and bobblehead giveaways grew in popularity. From 2002 to 2015, he worked as a reporter for Sports Network. He always arrived a few hours early and would be sure to pick up a bobblehead on giveaway days.
Two of his favorite ones are the 2005 Strikeout Kings with both Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens on the pedestal and the 1997 Central Division champions with Hampton, plus Bagwell holding up Biggio.
The baseball caps on his wall are signed by MLB players he coached or who played with his son, Daniel, during their family’s years with Westbury Little League, Kyle Chapman Pony League, Westbury High School or tournament teams in the early ’90s: Juan Pierre, Bubba Crosby. Mike Gonzalez, Kip Wells, Jeff Davanon, Ben Broussard, Shane Nance, Jose Cruz Jr., Jeff Austin and Jason Tyner.
And some were friends he’s met over the years: Pudge Rodriguez, Jose Cruz Sr., Don Baylor, Jerry Davanon, Luis Gonzalez, Alan Ashby and Art Howe.
David has transformed back into full-on, excited Little League coach mode. He spits out players’ names, what teams they were on; he’s reliving plays, he’s sharing coaching techniques.
“I loved coaching Little League because it gave me a chance to share my love of baseball with my son and his teammates. Since they were 6 years old, I had the opportunity to teach those important fundamentals of baseball. It’s been a joy to watch them grow into men of character with successful lives. Both parents and kids have lots of lifelong friendships that started during those Little League years.”
Bubba Crosby was on some of Coach Schwartz’s teams in the 1990s. Crosby played for the Bellaire Little League, Westbury Little League fall team, Kyle Chapman Pony League and Bellaire High School and went on to play for Rice University, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
“Back then, Bellaire Little League didn’t have a winter session, so my dad signed me up to play on a team in Westbury. I was a little intimidated when I first met Coach Schwartz. He was very into the fundamentals and just had me keep doing things over and over until I got it right. He wasn’t mean, but he definitely wasn’t passive! Now that I’m retired I realize just how important my early coaches were, especially Coach Schwartz, Coach [Jerry] Davanon and Coach [Rocky] Manuel from Bellaire High School and Coach [Wayne] Graham from Rice University.”
Coach Schwartz isn’t passive about his Astros bobblehead collection either. It gets bigger every year. The next time you’re out at Minute Maid on a giveaway night, just as sure as the train whistle blowing when the Astros score a run, you can bet David is somewhere in the stands smiling as big as his new bobblehead.
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