Longtime Houston Astros trainer retires to Steamboat
November 16, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Any doubts former head Houston Astros trainer Dave Labossiere had about leaving baseball after 25 years in the big leagues floated away last week.
Labossiere, who started with the Astros in 1983, woke up Tuesday morning, gazed at the tentacles of the sun poking over Sleeping Giant, took his youngest child to school, drove to Copper Mountain to make a few early season turns and then returned home.
“It’s so good. (Tuesday), we got up and said what a fabulous day it was,” Labossiere said. “: It was just a beautiful day. It’s exactly why we’re here.”
Labossiere comes to Steamboat after spending a quarter of a century in the depths of professional baseball.
For perspective, Labossiere was with the Astros for the entire careers of potential hall-of-famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
He’s worked four All-Star games, been to the World Series twice, saw Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Mike Scott pitch, and he still has relationships with hundreds of players who passed through the Astros clubhouse throughout the years.
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He’s worked on arms, legs and just about every other part of the body. He even found a moth in former Astro Mike Simms’ ear.
And out of everything Labossiere has seen and done, it’s the training room that brings back the best memories.
“The training room is where they get away from the press,” Labossiere said about the players. “It’s fun – I mean, we did a lot of work – but it’s their escape. But we had really good relationships.”
Labossiere planned to be a teacher. But a year of student teaching was all it took to persuade him to move in a different direction.
In 1972, his dad, who was a Major League scout, turned him onto training. Labossiere spent the next year with the Boston Red Sox Low A affiliate in Winston Salem, N.C. He spent the following four years in Bristol, Conn., with the Red Sox before going to graduate school at the University of North Carolina to study to become a trainer.
Labossiere was in winter ball in Puerto Rico when he learned the Astros needed a trainer for their AAA club. By 1983, he had been called to the big leagues.
“We have been very fortunate to have worked with Dave for as long as we did,” Astros General Manager Ed Wade wrote in an e-mail to the Pilot & Today. “Dave is a wonderful individual who got along great with everyone from players and coaches to members of the front office staff and the media.”
For 25 years, Labossiere pretty much followed the same schedule.
In January he’d work five days a week, and by the time spring training got under way in February, things really started moving.
“We’d work 48 days in a row,” Labossiere said about spring training.
When the season hit, he’d get two or three days off, legitimately one or two with travel, and work long hours.
The one constant vacation was during the Christmas holiday. In 1994, Labossiere and his family started coming to Steamboat Springs for ski vacations.
“Every time we’d go back to Texas, we’d say, ‘God, why are we going back?'” he said. “We loved Texas, but we really liked it here.”
So when a close friend died a year ago, Labossiere started thinking seriously about his next step in life. His family bought a house in Steamboat, and Labossiere decided 2008 would be his final season in the bigs.
“I thought, ‘Why do one more year when I don’t have to?'” Labossiere said. “I figured I’d get away and do it now. Like Warren Miller says, ‘You’ll be one year older if you don’t do it now.'”
At the end of this past season, the Astros honored Labossiere by presenting him and his family a new camera during a pregame ceremony at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Astros also gave Labossiere a snowblower during a team meeting shortly before the end of the season.
Now Labossiere is ready to relax, ski and experience the many other outdoor adventures found in the Yampa Valley. While he admits it might be awkward not to head to Florida for spring training in February, he’s not likely to complain.
In fact, he plans to help out with team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
“I don’t think I’ll miss it,” Labossiere said. “I’m good at not looking back. It’s time to do other things now. It’s time to play.”