Behind the Mascot: The Story of Orbit


Everyone remembers the Houston Astros’ lovable, alien mascot of the 90s, Orbit. He made his home in the Astrodome and entertained thousands of fans each night during Astros’ home games. Everyone also knows that once the Astros moved into their new downtown stadium, Orbit was replaced by the train-conducting rabbit, Junction Jack. What everyone doesn’t know is why Orbit was replaced and what he was up to during those off years.

For nearly ten years Orbit lived in the Astrosdome and loved to do nothing but entertain the fans. Slowly things started to turn for Orbit. The Astros introduced another mascot by the name of General Admission to help humor the crowds. General Admission was a middle-aged guy that wore a U.S. Calvary Uniform and fired off a cannon with each Astros’ home run. Orbit was no fan of the General and everyone could start to see Orbit’s frustrations. One of the most telling signs of the alien’s disgruntlement was when he was ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes with umpire Gary Darling.

In 1997, Orbit caught wind of the plan to move the Astros into a new downtown ballpark. The thought further infuriated Orbit, and soon he had taken up drinking to drown his frustrations. Orbit was in disbelief over the team moving from his home to a ballpark that wouldn’t even have AstroTurf on the field! As the team’s time at the Astrodome wound down, Orbit was unsure of how he fit into the team’s future plans. After a spat with then owner, Drayton McLane, prior to the final game of the 1999 season, Orbit’s anger got the best of him and he took it out on General Admission by zapping him with his ray gun on the field. Nearly Thirteen years went by before we ever heard from Orbit again, but I was able to dig up what he was doing during that time.

Following the apparent murder of General Admission, Orbit was taken into custody and sentenced to five years of intensive psychiatric treatment at the Menninger Clinic. He made great strides during those years and was finally released in October of 2005. Unfortunately for Orbit, his former team had more television coverage than ever at that time. He was unable to avoid seeing his Astros in their first ever World Series and with a new mascot, nonetheless. Sources say that the first time that Orbit laid eyes on that train-conducting rabbit, he was absolutely irate! Orbit turned back to the booze and knew he had to leave the state of Texas to get away from all of the Astros’ hoopla.

Orbit headed north until he reached Warrensburg, Missouri. There was something about that town that really drew him in. Unfortunately, the move did not help Orbit to overcome his alcoholism, so he had trouble finding and keeping jobs. Finally, in early spring of 2010, a neighbor at the trailer park that Orbit was living in had been observing Orbit’s behavior and took it upon himself to go and talk to him. When the neighbor went inside Orbit’s home he realized that the problem was much worse than what he had expected. He saw beer cans and whiskey bottles covering the floors and “Die Junction Jack” written all over the walls in red lipstick. The neighbor knew that he had to get Orbit help, and was able to talk Orbit into checking into the Pathways Community Behavior Healthcare Inc. Substance Abuse Program in Warrensburg, Missouri.

By the fall of 2010 Orbit felt like a new alien. He no longer held onto the bitterness towards his former team or their Bugs Bunny knockoff, Junction Jack. He was back on the wagon and had even found a steady job at the university in town as a janitor.

The Spring of 2011 brought forth another life-changing event for Orbit. During an Alumni event at his university, The University of Central Missouri, he ran into a wealthy businessman in the dining hall’s restroom. Orbit, being quite sociable, started up a conversation with the well-dressed man and found out that he was in the process of buying Orbit’s former team, the Houston Astros! Orbit was in disbelief and had to admit that he was happy when the businessman, Jim Crane, had told the story of his damning run-in with Junction Jack. Apparently, Crane was at Minute Maid Park for a lunch meeting with Drayton McLane when Junction Jack walked in and “accidentally” stepped on Crane’s $700 Salvatore Ferragamo wingtips, leaving a deep scratch in the toe of his right shoe. Crane said he would never forgive the rabbit for that and told Orbit that he planned on “taking out the trash” as soon as his purchase was complete.

Soon after Crane’s takeover, Orbit received a call offering him his old job back with his own apartment at Union Station for the 2013 season. It was an offer that he could not turn down. Following the 2012 season, Crane invited Orbit over for grilled rabbit with rosemary and garlic and nothing had ever tasted so savory!