LAKE JACKSON — As the Houston Astros crept closer to clinching their first World Series berth since 2005 with a Game 7 win Saturday night against the New York Yankees, fans began to arrive at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Lake Jackson.
When George Springer secured the final out in his glove, Academy management received confirmation to begin selling the World Series merchandise they received earlier that evening.
The store, which normally closes at 10 p.m., re-opened to satisfy Astros fans until midnight.
“We had quite a few people,” Academy manager James Bates said. “It was great. There was a lot of excitement.
“We received a shipment late last night, and once the game was over, we got the approval email and started selling 10 to 15 minutes after the game was over. We had a big enough lead, people were camping out already.”
Bates said the store sold out of that initial shipment and by late afternoon Sunday had sold out of a second shipment. He said more shirts should arrive daily over the next week.
“People are going crazy for the Astros,” Bates said. “It’s awesome.”
Miguel Serrano of Freeport was sick Saturday night, but he watched the Astros punch their ticket to the World Series. Wearing an Astros cap, he was one of many fans who waited until Sunday to make a trip to Academy.
“I was really happy because it is the second time that I have seen the Astros go to the World Series,” Serrano said. “I was sick, but at the same time I was happy. I don’t feel too good today, but yesterday was great.”
Serrano has been an Astros fan since 2003, he said. He predicts the Astros will sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the series, which begins Tuesday.
“I think they are going to beat them in four games straight,” Serrano said. “Because they have good, good players.”
Inside Academy, customers browsed Astros merchandise and snatched up the last of Sunday’s shipment of World Series gear.
Lexy Alexander of Lake Jackson, wearing an Astros shirt and cap, and looking for more, was equally excited about the team defeating the Yankees.
“It was mind-blowing,” Alexander said. “They haven’t done anything since, basically, I’ve been alive and now they are going to the World Series. It is pretty cool.”
Bates has been a manager at the Lake Jackson store for eight years and has watched the buzz over the Astros build all week leading up to Saturday’s game. He just hopes he can keep up with the demand for the World Series merchandise.
“That’s the plan,” Bates said. “We hope we can. You can just never predict how much impact one event is going to have. The Houston Astros, doing this and how they did it just makes people kind of crazy. It is a lot of fun.”
Bates said he couldn’t estimate how many people showed up Saturday night, but it was enough to keep the store open another hour.
Anna Buswell of Lake Jackson wasn’t one of those who showed up late Saturday night either, but she was browsing merchandise earlier Saturday. She has been a fan of the Astros since she moved to the area 17 years ago and watched Saturday’s game with her husband.
“I am pretty excited,” Buswell said. “I really like the team this year and their personalities.”
Bates said the excitement has been unprecedented and even he, as an Astros fan, is looking forward to the World Series while at the same time trying to keep the fans outfitted in commemorative clothing.