HOUSTON -- Fresh off a mission trip to Haiti, former Astros slugger Lance Berkman was honored at Minute Maid Park on Friday night along with the Second Baptist High School team he led to the TAPPS Class 4A state championship last month.
Berkman, considered one of the Astros' greatest players after hitting .296 with 326 homers and 1,090 RBIs in 12 seasons in Houston, just finished his first season as the school's head baseball coach. His staff includes former Astros and Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who's the pitching coach.
"I really appreciate the Astros organization and front office for giving us this chance to come down here," Berkman said. "It's neat for the kids. Every time they come down to a place like this, their eyes are so wide and they're looking at all the guys, and it's just neat to see them.
"They're really, first and foremost, huge fans of the game and they follow the Astros, and I hear them talking about it at practice all the time. To get to come out here and meet these guys is a real thrill for them."
"He's great," Berkman said. "Colby's just a good-hearted young man, and I enjoyed playing with him, and I'm glad he's here and glad he's doing so well, and hopefully he keeps going."
Berkman recently returned from a four-day trip to Haiti, where he helped dig trenches to support water supplies. He took along his two oldest daughters on a trip that included former Major League pitcher Scott Linebrink, who assists Water Missions International in building water systems in impoverished nations.
Berkman, who is a Christian with deep beliefs, said it's his mission to serve the poor.
"We were down there, first and foremost, addressing some pretty basic needs we take for granted: clean water, sanitation, that kind of thing," he said. "I took my oldest two girls down to show them, 'Hey, we really have it great in this country and we should be thankful every day for where we live and what the Lord has given us. It's certainly humbling, and a great way to maintain a healthy perspective on life is to go serve people that are less fortunate."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.