HOUSTON - As the City of Houston gears up for the World Series, one major fan has turned his disability into a special connection with the team.
Erik Mendez spent most of his years growing up in Shriners Hospital in Houston where he remembers Astros visiting often.
“They would come and visit the hospital, and I started becoming a fan and watching them on TV,” says Mendez.
He was diagnosed with Arthrogryposis multiplex congenital when he was just a few months old.
Although he's in a wheelchair, he was so inspired by those visits by big names like Jose Cruz that he couldn’t wait to start playing himself.
Years later, Mendez got some friends together, and they started a softball team of their own, named “The Rolling Astros” in honor of his favorite baseball team.
The Rolling Astros play against other local and national teams and also help introduce children and veterans to wheelchair and adapted sports.
In August they had their own World Series tournament run in Kansas, where they ranked in the top 10 against more than 20 international teams.
Mendez says the team is thrilled to root on the original Astros, a team that has reached out several times since they started more than six years ago.
"We’ve been fortunate enough to be introduced and throw out the first pitch at Astros games, We’ve been introduced on the field multiple times,” he says.
“The Astros organization has been great. We’re going to cheer them on and get together when we can, but we’re definitely going to cheer them on and hope for the best."
Mendez says he hopes his team can congratulate the players in person after they bring back the World Series trophy.
He adds that the Rolling Astros are even ready to take on the 2019 ALCS champs in a game - whenever the Astros are ready.