HOUSTON – Valentin Jalomo will settle into his spot on the concourse level behind left-center field hours before the orange rally flags wave furiously at Minute Maid Park during Game 6 of the World Series. Although he has owned season tickets in the upper deck for 17 years, he would rather be along the railing in the standing-room only area.
With a handlebar mustache he hasn’t shaved since 1975, a straw Panama hat and an Orange Astros jersey, Jalomo will take his spot near one of the pillars that support the left field facade. The retired bilingual teacher is such a staple of Astros baseball, former slugger Carlos Lee once paid for his season tickets a decade ago when he led the famous “Los Caballitos” group that would ride stick horses and gallop along the concourse after each Lee home run.
Texans superstar J.J Watt, Beyonce, rapper Bun B and country singer Lyle Lovett are the more famous A-listers who support the Astros, but Jalomo is arguably the most recognizable of a subset of orange-clad fans who show their club loyalty with distinctive outfits or costumes at each game.
Jalomo has attended Astros games since the Astrodome opened in 1965, and he has been a season-ticket holder for the last 17 seasons. You’ll never find him in his seats, however.
He prefers to be on the concourse in the standing-room-only section. That’s where fans approach him on a nightly basis asking him to pose for pictures. His famous handlebar mustache, which is straight out of a Western movie, is the main attraction.
“Fans from all over the world come over here,” he said. “China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Mexico the same way. The States here too.”
Jalomo, who taught bilingual education in the Houston area for 33 years, is always happy to oblige. He is quite proud of his mustache, which takes about 20 minutes a day to get just right. Hair spray helps. It would take him more than an hour to get the mustache on point without hair spray, he notes.
Jalomo is just one of many Astros fans who wear distinctive looks or attires to Minute Maid Park. The Nationals have Baby Shark outfits sprinkled throughout the stadium in honor of Geraldo Parra’s Baby Shark song, but the Astros have several different themes.
Vera wore Astros rainbow leggings, a low-cut orange tank top and an extremely large orange straw cowboy hat, which had the H logo on the front top of the hat, Gurriel’s name written on the back rim, and his No. 10 on the back top of the hat. Her cousin was more reserved with an orange Gurriel replica jersey, an orange Astros hat and camouflage shorts.
Vera and Jaregui complemented their outfits with a large fathead placard of Gurriel’s mug just in case nobody realized they were devoted to the Astros’ Cuban first baseman.
Abel L and Artie, his stepdad, of Houston’s predominantly Mexican and Mexican East End accessorized their outfits with a Mexican flair.
They capped the outfit with orange sombreros that were lined in black along the edges with multiple Astros logos between “Astros” around the black rim of the sombrero.
“See that right there?” Abel, who wouldn’t divulge his last name, said as he pointed at the replica of the 2017 World Series ring. “Yeah, Astros going to win it.”
Steve Gutierrez wore an orange Astros cap and an orange and black serape with an Astros logo on the chest after driving three hours from San Antonio for a recent game.
“Here to watch the Astros win it all,” said Gutierrez, who added that he’s been a fan of the Astros “since the day I was born. I’ve been to games since the Astros were in the Astrodome. Just living the good life watching the Astros win.”
Beverly Gil, a math teacher at Baytown’s Travis Elementary, puts more effort into her outfit. She made her “Astros boots” out of orange rain boots that she decorated with several different stickers of the Astros “H” logo. She wore an orange visor with an Astros “H” logo over her orange sunglasses.
She spent several hours gluing together a replica of the Astros’ 2017 World Series trophy. Instead of showing up in an Astros hat or sombrero, she wore the replica World Series trophy atop her head.
She even made a choker out of a large Astros logo she bought at the gift shop. Those were just the accessories on a night she wore an orange rainbow themed skirt, a blue blouse with the Houston skyline highlighted by the Astros’ famed orange rainbow colors and a gold star at the top left corner.
The Astros have encouraged their fans to “Orange-out” Minute Maid Park and the Houston area before and during Game 6 as they attempt to seal their second World Series title in three years on Tuesday night.
There will be plenty of orange in the stands, but the outfits will be as diverse as the city. Look for the orange serapes, sombreros and cowboy hats.
Featured Image: Jose de Jesus Ortiz