MLB

Former Houston Astros Owner Drayton McLane Once Rewarded a Pitcher With a Bulldozer

In 2005, the Houston Astros were facing the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS with the Astros up 3-2 in the series. A win would put them in the World Series and they had one of their best pitchers in Roy Oswalt ready to go. Drayton McLane, the owner of the Astros back then, told Oswalt before the game that if he won the game, McLane would get Oswalt the gift he always wanted – a bulldozer. Yes, a bulldozer.

The 2005 NLCS

The St. Louis Cardinals were the only team in Major League Baseball during the 2005 season to win 100 games. The Houston Astros didn’t break 90. The Cardinals also won the NLCS series opener, jumping on Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte early and often en route to a 5-3 victory in St. Louis.

The Astros bounced back in Game 2  behind Roy Oswalt’s seven-inning gem where he allowed one run on five hits in a 4-1 victory. The Astros went back to Houston tied at a game apiece and then eked out one-run victories in Games 3 and 4 to move one game away from winning the series.

In Game 5, still at home, the Astros had a 4-2 lead entering the ninth inning before closer Brad Lidge let the game get away. Lidge surrendered a three-run homer to Albert Pujols as the Cardinals stunned the Astros 5-4 and sent the series back to St. Louis with the Cardinals having momentum.

Drayton McLane’s promise

Roy Oswalt sat in the Astros clubhouse before Game 6 and was hoping for another stellar performance much like the one he had in Game 2. Astros owner Drayton McLane was also hoping for the same result and walked in on Oswalt a few hours before the game. He wanted to make sure his Game 6 starter still wasn’t reeling from the shocking loss in Game 5.

“Roy, this is a key game,” McLane said. “We need to win tonight and we’ll do something that hasn’t been done in 43 years.” Oswalt nodded. McLane remembered a conversation the two had a few years back. During Oswalt’s rookie year in 2001, McLane asked Oswalt what his goals were, expecting the youngster to mention a fancy home, a yacht, maybe a luxury car. But Oswalt told McLane his main goal in life was to own a bulldozer.

That night, right before Oswalt was to take the mound, McLane offered a deal to Oswalt, “You win this game tonight, and I’ll buy you a Caterpillar D6 (bulldozer).” Oswalt sprung to his feet and told the owner he had a deal. For those not familiar with the lingo, a Caterpillar D6 is a bulldozer — in this case, a mustard yellow bulldozer complete with well-placed Astros logos and a price tag of a cool $230,000.

McLane follows through with deal

Roy Oswalt was dominant once again and he was staked to a 3-0 lead after four innings in Game 6. He had visions of the Houston Astros getting to the World Series, but he also was thinking about that bulldozer. “I was thinking that night in about the third inning, when we went up 3-0, if I can just shut these guys out the rest of the night, I’m going to hold [McLane] to the fire in front of the media that he was going to get me a bulldozer,” Oswalt said.

The Astros went on to defeat the Cardinals 5-1, Oswalt was named the MVP of the series, and Drayton McLane came through with his promise of getting Oswalt that bulldozer. In December of 2005, McLane presented his pitcher with the gift.

“That’s a pretty good gift for Christmas, for sure,” Oswalt said. “This is a dozer you can do anything with. “There are going to be a lot of jealous people around where I live. I’m going to try to hire out and make a little money in the offseason.”