Musgrove makes special visit to VA center

Musgrove makes special visit to VA center

HOUSTON -- After being showered with support and adoration during the run to the World Series championship, Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove gave some of that appreciation back on Thursday.

Musgrove joined members of the Astros Foundation and Astros Shooting Stars in visiting patients at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in honor of Veterans Day. The Astros distributed gifts, such as hats and blankets, to patients, while Musgrove took time to visit with them and pose for photos. He also passed out handmade cards from local elementary schools.

"This whole offseason's been crazy," Musgrove said. "There's been a lot of emotions, and it's really exciting for me. I'm in my first professional full season and I'm getting [to experience] a lot of these things that guys have been waiting their whole life for, and getting a chance to come here and share it with some of these people and these veterans is a blessing.

"I'm fortunate enough to be put in a situation where I have the opportunity to come out and share with them."

Astros in the community

Musgrove, who went 7-8 with a 4.77 ERA and two saves in 38 games that were split between the rotation and the bullpen this season, went in and out of hospital rooms. He knelt to talk to patients, some of whom were huge Astros fans and some who were glad to just to see a smiling face.

"These guys are the true heroes," Musgrove said. "They set the tone for everything we do and have given us the opportunity to be in this situation. It's really special."

Former U.S. Marine Rickie Bagby said he and the other veteran patients made sure to watch as many playoff games as they could, no matter how late they had to stay up. Bagby said he was touched Musgrove would take the time to come to the VA hospital.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime moment," he said. "We were honored just to be able to see what games we could see here, and none of the veterans missed it. We were up, even though we had to pay for it the next morning with them coming around and doing vitals so early. It's awesome. It's the best thing that's happened to this town."

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is one of 141 VA medical centers in the VA system, hospital director Francisco Vazquez said. The center offers the most complex care in the system and has about 5,000 staff members that serve about 120,000 veterans over the course of the year.

"This means the world to us," Vazquez said. "The timing of the World Series victory, when the team came together and did so much and overcame some adversity ... to win it -- it really means a lot to us as an organization and a city.

"The team showed resilience, they showed spirit, and that's the same qualities our veterans show when they're serving our country and in harm's way -- coming together and watching out for their brother and working with resilience and not giving up. It means the world. But just having Mr. Musgrove to come out and share with us, for our staff and our veterans, it means so much and we're very thankful."

The Astros figure to be popular wherever they go in the coming months as they bask in the glory of the team's first World Series championship since the franchise's inception in 1962.

"It's incredible to see how happy these people are," Musgrove said. "I've been with the organization five years and these people have been waiting 50 years, so it's really cool to see the smiles on the faces."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.