February 6, 2016 - Texas alumn, Huston Street, left, jokes around with assistant coach, Skip Johnson, right, during the annual Alumni Game held at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: Huston Street is looking forward to PB and J’s and restoring Texas’ winning ways

Posted August 22nd, 2019

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Story highlights
  • Huston Street enrolls Friday and becomes a full-fledged student again at the University of Texas next week. Right alongside a bunch of wide-eyed 18-year-old kids two decades his junior.
  • "He’s one of the smartest baseball players I knew," Street said of new Texas volunteer coach Troy Tulowitzki. "Kids are crazy if they don’t come here to Texas. He’s pure passion about baseball.
  • Street said, "I told Coach (David Pierce) the only thing I want to do is get my Ph.d so all of you dudes have to call me Dr. Street.”

Troy Tulowitzki has it all planned out.

He’ll break out the peanut butter and jelly, make a sandwich or two, throw them and some Fritos in a sack lunch and leave it in Huston Street’s truck in his driveway early every morning.

“And if I come home at night and still see it in your truck,” Tulowitzki told Street, “I’ll know you didn’t go to class.”

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Class starts next Wednesday for Huston Street.

Again.

This isn’t so much a do-over as a do-it-to-conclusion.

Street enrolls at the University of Texas on Friday and becomes a full-fledged student again next week. Right alongside a bunch of wide-eyed 18-year-olds two decades his junior.

Huston Street of the Los Angeles Angels walks in the outfield prior to a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 21, 2017. He’d announced his retirement that week. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

That’s what student assistant baseball coaches do. Street’s already breaking down video, working summer baseball camp and meeting with the players.

And that’s what the 36-year-old former major-leaguer is doing after agreeing to join David Pierce’s UT staff along with Sean Allen and Tulowitzki, the new volunteer coach.

Yeah, it’s pretty much an All-Star coaching staff.

“I would say it this way,” Street said, “I’d put us up against any staff in the country. But we’ve got to do it. Coach (Darrell) Royal always said the proof is in the pudding.”

And he wasn’t talking about the pudding that Tulo might slip into those sack lunches every morning.

These two former pros who were All-Stars a combined seven times over their 26 collective big-league seasons have arrived to help Pierce dig out from under the avalanche of adversity in a 27-27 season and last-place finish in the Big 12. Street and Tulowitzki have already taken to the challenge and are coaching in summer camps before fall workouts begin in October.

Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street pumps his fist at the close of the Angels’ 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners in 2015 game. He retired with 324 career saves. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

By then, Street figures to be droopy-eyed after his course schedule that likely will include a semester of studies in finance and urban studies. He might even take a foreign language. And while he will need two full years of classes to complete a geography degree, he’s thinking of sticking around campus for an extended time.

There’s no limit on the number of seasons one can be a student coach, so he may take full advantage.

“What if I got three hours away from graduating, I might change my degree plan and add another,” Street suggested. “And then I’ll graduate and get seven different master’s degrees. I told Coach the only thing I want to do is get my Ph.D so all of you dudes have to call me Dr. Street.”

Dr. Street figures to bring a lively sense of humor to the job, but also a tunnel-vision attitude. He’ll also bring a ton of experience and be able to relate to the young men he’ll help coach.

“I’m going to challenge them to be the best in the country,” Street said. “I think coach Pierce is a phenomenal coach. I wouldn’t have come back or told my friend to come if I didn’t believe in this staff. We’re going to figure out how to win. And I want these kids to try to be the Friday night guy or dream of your picture being on the cover of Baseball America or the first catcher taken or first shortstop taken in the draft.”

He devoted the same intensity to both his baseball and his real-estate career since retiring two years ago after a spectacular, 324-save career as a closer. In fact, when he and Tulowitzki were teammates on the Colorado Rockies, on days when a heavily worked Street knew he wasn’t going to be available to close, he’d often approach his buddy with business ideas, something the all-baseball Tulowitzki would have nothing to do with.

“Tulo loves baseball more than anybody I ever met,” Street said. “And he’d tell me to leave him alone. He was all baseball. He’s one of the smartest baseball players I knew. Kids are crazy if they don’t come here to Texas. He’s pure passion about baseball. Me, I love football probably more than I love baseball.”

Colorado Rockies pitcher Huston Street throws against the Chicago White Sox in a 2009 spring training game. He’ll be a volunteer assistant coach this season for Texas. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

In fact, the former Westlake defensive back strongly considered playing football in college instead of or alongside baseball as did his legendary father, quarterback-pitcher James Street. Of course, one exhausting game at Royal-Memorial Stadium changed all that when the late Cedric Benson bruised and battered the much smaller safety into submission in a state championship game.

At halftime of that game, Street lay on the floor in the locker room with his feet up against the wall and privately wondered how he would get through the second half.

That night, he slept on his parents’ couch until his dad walked in the next morning, coffee cup in hand, and laid out some words of advice.

“I remember waking up,” Street said. “Perfect James Street timing. He said, ‘You sure you want to do that every day at the next level because that’s the kind of dude you’ll face every day,’ not knowing Cedric would be a Doak Walker winner and one of the best to ever play at Texas.”

Street chose wisely, opting for baseball and now wanting to give back.

Part of the incentive is to honor the promise he made to his mother Janie and his late father to graduate. But he’s also driven to get his T ring, the gold ring with an orange stone capped with a white T and the embodiment of a promise first made by Royal to every UT letterman who got his degree.

“That piece is very important to me,” Street said. “My dad was adamant about finishing what you start. I never wore jewelry on the right ring finger for that reason. I’m reserving that finger for my T ring, and when I get it, I’m going to wear it every day.”

He understands the difficulty attached to this challenge. And he’s fully aware of some of the hardships he’ll face with a full-time assistant’s job, papers and exams, and a family that includes sons Ripken, Ryder and Rafe and his wife Lacey.

Lacey sure wouldn’t do his homework, would she?

“No comment,” Street said. “But she was a 4.00 student, graduated from TCU in three years with a business degree.”

She does give him grief about his “Longhorn-ness,” but she’s thrilled he wants to finish his education.

So is Tulowitzki, who lives four houses down from the Streets. But Street wants his buddy to up ante on his daily fare for lunchtime.

“Hey, this is the big leagues. He needs to get me something amazing,” Street said. “I mean, he makes $14 million next year. He’s the highest-paid volunteer in the world. He’s got to do better than peanut butter and jelly.”

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