The shrine is a simple one.
There’s a bottle of holy water from San Juan. A prayer candle. And a Dallas Keuchel gnome bobblehead.
The display might be a little unorthodox. But from a table in a backroom at Galveston Beerfoot Brewery, a Seawall bar, a group of Astros fans are convinced it’s helping lead the Astros to victory.
As Justin Verlander threw his first pitch in Wednesday night’s game, a couple dozen people milled around the room and its mishmash of tables and chairs. There was free pizza and fresh-popped popcorn.
Over the first few innings — hours before the Astros hit four home runs in extra innings to mount a miraculous comeback win — the group was gasping with every pitch and cheering “dilly, dilly,” after every out while watching the game on a massive projector.
Galveston doesn’t have a massively popular sports bar, said Richard Garza, who has helped organize watch parties at Beerfoot.
With weeknight games starting at 7 p.m., and potentially stretching four or more hours into the night, plenty of people will choose to stay home, but Garza said there’s something special about coming out and watching the game in a large group.
“At home, we were always like this, too,” Garza said, gesturing to his cheering friends and family members. “It’s just so much better to be here. You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to clean up.”
You don’t have to squeeze everybody onto a 6-foot couch, he said.
Wednesday’s Game 2 was watched by more than a million people in the Houston area, according to Nielsen, the TV ratings company. The game is on seemingly every TV set on the island. Astros fever is popping up in other places.
Employees at the University of Texas Medical Branch are being encouraged to wear Astros gear (and the staff of The Galveston County Daily News was given special permission to wear Astros caps inside on Friday, if they so choose).
At the Galveston City Council meeting, the seven council members donned Astros caps and jerseys — some of them newly purchased by Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough — to celebrate the team, ahead of this weekend’s potentially deciding games.
At Beerfoot on Tuesday, Robert Rodriguez said he expected even more people would start showing their support around town as the deciding games approached.
“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “Some people don’t have $800 or $900 to spend on tickets, so this is a nice thing to do to spend time with your family.”
Of course, most of his family is superstitious, he said. So that means after Tuesday’s miracle, they’ll be back at Beerfoot this weekend.
And so will the Keuchel gnome.