Astros honor long-time employee Miers with painting

Astros honor long-time employee Miers with painting

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Those who know Don Miers are used to his quick sense of humor to go along with his trademark moustache. But Miers, who was the first Astros employee hired in Kissimmee 32 years ago, was brought to tears Tuesday afternoon when team president Reid Ryan presented him with a painting commemorating the team's final season at Osceola County Stadium.

The Astros are scheduled to move to a new Spring Training facility beginning next year that they will share with the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach, Fla., ending a 32-year run in Kissimmee.

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Miers, the Osceola County director of events and facilities, was hired in 1984 while the ballpark was being built. Miers has held many roles at the complex through the years, and the Astros commissioned a painting by renowned sports artist Opie Otterstad as a tribute to him for his loyalty to Osceola County and the Astros.

"I had no idea," Miers said. "You just do your job every day and you don't think about anything else, and this honor is touching. It really is [touching] that Reid and his staff would think that much of me. Really special."

Ryan surprised Miers with the painting after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the Braves. The team was also going to play host to a dinner party honoring Miers and the Osceola County staff on Tuesday night.

"Don Miers and everyone who's worked at Kissimmee over the years are a big part of the Astros and our success, and we wanted to do something today to honor him on the field, but also honor all the staff members that have worked here over the years," Ryan said. "We're going to have a party after the game, and we feel it's a great way to end what has been a terrific relationship."

The painting depicted a smiling Miers standing in front of a packed Osceola County Stadium. Above the stadium are images of Astros icons Nolan Ryan, Jose Cruz, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Ken Caminiti with current stars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, who's wearing No. 84 -- the number he wore in his first spring camp last year, and also the year Miers was hired.

At the top left is an image of a younger Miers.

"When I showed up, I had hair," Miers joked.

Miers said he would have to find a special spot for the painting.

"It's going in the living room," he said. "Right above the mantle, right over the fireplace."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.