Emotion and folly mark pregame of Astros home opener

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FIRST TITLE PROBLEMS: Astros experience hiccup unveiling World Series pennant

What was planned Monday night before the first pitch of the Houston Astros' home opener was an emotional return by former coach Rich Dauer and a smooth unveiling of the World Series title banner.

One-for-two isn't bad.

Before Dauer could take that first pitch, the Astros and their faithful all gazed toward left field and the train tracks where the team's World Series championship pennant hid beneath a black covering.

When it came time to unveil the triumphant title piece, something became amiss. With as much tugging and pulling from the Minute Maid Park staff, the covering wasn't coming down all that quickly. At one point, it looked like a leaf blower was used to remedy the situation. It took a worker to climb up the lighting pole next to the pennant to help pull it down.

It wasn't too graceful, but the 2017 World Series championship pennant is now proudly on display from here on.

It only could get better from there, and it indeed did. After the mishap, the ceremonial first pitch of the game came from former Astros coach Rich Dauer, who made his tearful return to MMP. Dauer experienced a near-death medical episode after taking part in the team's championship parade last November.
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Dauer tossed his first pitch to manager A.J. Hinch. Both hugged in the infield to a roar of applause from the some 40,000 fans at opening night.
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