Long Journey Ends in Big Leagues for Porter

April 2, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a long road for former University of Iowa dual-sport athlete Bo Porter, but it came to fruition Sunday night when he made his managerial debut with the Houston Astros.

“It has been a long journey,” said Porter. “I played football and baseball at the University of Iowa and made the decision to focus on baseball after I was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. I played 10 years in the majors for three teams.

“When I got to the back end (of my career), it was time for a transition, and I made it into the coaching ranks. It has been seven years as a coach, and now I get the opportunity to manage, and it’s pretty exciting.”

Porter not only made his managerial debut, but he led the Astros into a new era. Houston is now a member of the American League’s West Division after spending the entirety of their franchise history in the National League.

“I was blessed to play for two guys (Hayden Fry and Duane Banks) that understand how to build a championship program. Both had a huge impact on my development.”
Houston Astros’ manager and former Hawkeye Bo Porter

Milo Hamilton, an Iowa graduate and the Astros’ radio broadcaster, says Porter has brought a unique energy to the organization.

“He’s a firecracker,” said Hamilton. “You’d think he was still playing defensive back and captaining the Iowa Hawkeyes, where he starred for Hayden Fry. He brings a lot of that mentality, spirit and outlook to this baseball program and it has been evident since he got here and in spring training.”

Porter credits his two college coaches — Hayden Fry and Duane Banks — for this mentality and his approach in trying to turn the Astros’ franchise around.

“A lot of what you see taking place here, we’re changing the culture, a lot of that experience I gained at the University of Iowa with coach Fry taking over the program and what he was able to do,” said Porter. “He was one of the first people I talked to when I was hired. Coach Banks came out to Colorado to visit me last year in preparation for the job here.

“I was blessed to play for two guys that understand how to build a championship program. Both had a huge impact on my development.”

Sunday was an emotional evening for Porter with friends and family making the trip to Houston to see his Major League managerial debut. It was also a memorable event for a few of Porter’s former Hawkeye teammates.

“I am so proud of him,” said Danan Hughes, another former two-sport Hawkeye. “To be one of 30 managers and the youngest African American coach ever, this is extra special for me to be able to witness.”

“Managing in Major League Baseball is unbelievable,” said former teammate Michael Titley. “I am happy for him. It seems like yesterday I met him as an 18-year old kid out of Newark, N.J., now he’s here a part of the Big Show.”

The Astros were victorious in Porter’s and their American League debut, downing the Texas Rangers, 8-2. Porter says the support from friends and family was memorable, but now it’s on to the next one.

“This is one of 162 (games),” said Porter. “On Tuesday, we’ll tee it up again and come out with the same mentality.”

That’s the type of mentality that has gained Porter a strong reputation in the MLB circles, and one that could bode well for the Houston organization.

“People that know him in his career think he is going to be a very successful big-league manger,” said Hamilton.