Culture / Sporting Life

Chas McCormick Gets the Best Reward Ever From Justin Verlander, Ryan Pressly For Making One of the Greatest Catches in World Series History — These All-Guts Astros Do It Again

Inside These Forever-Together Astros' Most Epic Playoff Win Ever

BY // 11.04.22

PHILADELPHIA — Lying on the dark dirt of the warning track at Citizens Bank Park, his glove hand still extended with a precious baseball and one of the best catches in World Series history still safely clutched in it, Chas McCormick looks up and actually sees the Phillies anguish he causes.

“I could see the faces of the Phillies fans,” McCormick says later, still wearing his beautifully dirt-stained orange Houston Astros orange uniform in the clubhouse. “Looking all sad. And upset. . . Best feeling in the world.”

If that’s not the best feeling in world, going into the visitors clubhouse in this so-so hostile ballpark and getting greeted by all his Astros teammates gleefully doing that silly Chas Chomp is. Even the teammate who grumpily swore off the Chas Chomp —  the Florida Gators-like two-handed chomping motion that became a thing because. . . because well, sometimes Chas McCormick’s enthusiasm is completely irresistible.

No matter how hard you try and fight it with every fiber of your being.

“I caved,” Astros closer Ryan Pressly laughs, admitting he broke his strict self-imposed Chas Chomp ban. “I was in here doing it for him when he came in (the clubhouse).”

When a guy makes a catch like that for you in an epic World Series Game 5, the Chas Chomp suddenly becomes the least thing you can do for him. “I think I owe him a beer,” Pressly says. “Or dinner or something.”

You think?

What a catch. What a game. What a World Series win. What an Astros team.

Just when you don’t think this Houston Astros team can top itself, just when you think it can’t possibly play any gutsier,  just when you think it can’t go any higher, you get a night like this. One of the greatest nights of this entire beyond magical six year Astros run. A 3-2 Game 5 win that takes every bit of the Astros’ unequalled nerve and verve, every bit of their unequalled togetherness, every bit of their rising to the moment that leaves other teams’ just shaking their heads in complete and utter disbelief.

These Astros follow up a no-hitter — just the second no-hitter in the 118 year history of the entire damn World Series — with a second straight win for the ages. And not just the ages of this golden era of Houston baseball. This is one of the all-time, gut check World Series wins. Ever.

“So special,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman says. “This took every one of us stepping up and doing whatever it took to win.”

“I was going to run through a wall no matter what.” — Astros center fielder Chas McCormick

Moments later, Bregman just keeps using the word “Unbelievable” over and over again. To describe Chas McCormick racing to the wall and leaping up to make that catch even as he bounces off it, saving this World Series game in the bottom of the ninth inning. To talk about rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña who hits the big early home run, drives in two of the three runs and makes two great defensive plays of his own. To try and capture Trey Mancini’s brilliant defensive play where the guy forced into the game to play first base because Yuli Gurriel gets injured makes like a hockey goalie and somehow robs another Phillie in the eighth inning.

Unbelievable.

Unbelievable.

Unbelievable.

Bregman just keeps using the word over and over again. And why not? What other word could do?

It takes all that and Justin Verlander somehow gutting past his early struggles and putting together five innings of one run baseball to finally snare his own Moby Dick. That exclusive first World Series win for one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. It takes all that and Ryan Pressly coming into a situation that Ethan Hunt would find troubling and getting the first five out save of his Astros postseason career. His first World Series save ever.

Go ahead and put this game in the Smithsonian. It’s that good. That pure Astros.

And looks where it puts Houston now. . .

One win from baseball heaven. One win from the ultimate champagne party. One win from a world championship. One win from an absolute no-doubt Astros dynasty.

With two chances to get it at home, up 3-2 in the World Series.

“What it would mean to do it for all the guys on this team, for our fans, for our city, you can’t even describe it,” Bregman says. “But we’ve still got work to do.”

The Astros do some of their best work ever in this Game 5. When it’s over, there is Justin Verlander, the 39-year-old ageless ace, getting playfully shoved in a laundry cart by his teammates and wheeled into the shower to be soaked in full uniform. With beer, water and anything else Verlander’s giddy teammates can find. Because that’s what you do when someone gets a historic first win.

“My boys, my teammates, my family, they gave me the rookie treatment after the game,” Verlander grins.

For his part, McCormick finds himself kneeling on the field after the game, waiting to do a live national broadcast interview with Fox. The unexpected pause gives him a chance to take it all in. Which only would be the most unbelievable night of his entire life.

Chas McCormick Astros World Series catch
While waiting to do a national Fox TV interview, Chas McCormick took a moment to reflect on what he’d done with that World Series catch for the ages. (@Astros)

Chas McCormick is a West Chester kid. He grew up in the shadow of Philadelphia. He can vividly remember cheering for the Phillies the last time they won a World Series in 2008. Chas McCormick was a kid then. He’s an all-time World Series hero now.

No matter what this 27-year-old scraper does the rest of his career he always will have made one of the greatest catches in World Series history. For Phillies all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto absolutely smoked that ball to the wall, certain he was about to completely flip this Game 5 and propel the Phillies to another improbable comeback in their madhouse of a home ballpark. Chas McCormick, former high school basketball star who always tells Astros manager Dusty Baker how good his hops are, came flying in with other ideas.

“I was going to run through a wall no matter what,” McCormick says.

It turns out, McCormick almost does. He bounces off that out-of-town scoreboard wall while making the catch. Ends up flat on his back in that dark dirt, still holding the baseball and looking up at a sea of stunned Phillies fans.

“It didn’t hurt at all,” McCormick swears even later in the clubhouse, still in his uniform. “The fence has a little bit of give, it’s flexible there.”

“I just told him, ‘Chas get up. Chas, get up,’ ” Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker, the first man to McCormick, says.

McCormick gets up — and finds himself living his dream. Soon, he’s wrapped up in the sweetest Hall of Fame hug ever. From Justin Freaking Verlander.

“He gave me a big hug,” McCormick says with obvious glee. “That was special. Felt so good. Because he’s Justin Verlander.”

Chas McCormick Meets a Wall and Chas Wins

With a catch that good, Verlander will probably give McCormick hugs for a week if he asks. Certainly if the Astros can wrap this up in Saturday night’s Game 6 at a sure-to-be lit Minute Maid Park.

On this night, Chas McCormick may be the historic hero, but he’s not the only hero. Because there never seems to be just one savior with these 2022 Astros.

Jeremy Peña just keeps seeming to come up with bigger and bigger moments for these Astros. The rookie shortstop with the Derek Jeter composure who has much better defensively skills than Jeter ever had does it again in Game 5.

“There’s a lot of preparation that’s gone into this,” Peña says.

A lot of results too. Results that might lead to a World Series MVP Award to go with that ALCS MVP Award he’s already won. Peña drives in the first two runs of the game. The first with a sharp single into center after Jose Altuve’s knocks the second pitch of the game high off the center right field wall and ends up on third. The second on a missile of a home run to left field. That makes a beyond happy Altuve jump around like a kid in a ball pit. The Astros’ lifeline leader also mimics the hand heart symbol Peña does for his mom after that home run, greeting Peña with it when he gets back to the dugout.

But Jeremy Peña does not just stop with those two hits. It’s not all about offense. Not with this rookie Gold Glove shortstop. He also turns this Game 5 into a defensive clinic, jumping high and extending his glove to snare a Nick Castellanos shot and moving quickly to catch a ball cleanly on the bounce and throw out Jean Segura by a good step and a half at first.

Castellanos drops to his knees when Peña robs him, with the veteran seemingly in complete disbelief. Jeremy Peña can do that to you.

Of course, that pales in comparison to what Chas McCormick does to J.T. Realmuto later. This catch doesn’t just put McCormick on his back, happily laying in that dark dirt. It seems to drop an entire Astros-hating city to its brotherly knees.

McCormick estimates he “only” has about 12 people at this Game 5, compared to the 20 plus friends and family entourage he was able to get into Games 3 and 4.

“I don’t even want to look at it,” McCormick cracks when someone asks if he’s seen how many messages he’s gotten on his phone in the wake of what will be forever known as the Chas Catch in Houston.

Why look? Why break this magical spell? Chas McCormick is living his dream, still in his dirt-stained uniform 40 minutes after the final pitch, still happily talking to anyone who wants a moment.

A giant hug from Justin Verlander. A Chas Chomp from Ryan Pressly. The anguished looks on all those Phillie fans faces. And look where this puts these Astros now. . .

One win from baseball heaven. One win from the ultimate champagne party. One win from a championship. One win from an absolute no-doubt Astros dynasty.

“What it would mean to do it for all the guys on this team, for our fans, for our city, you can’t even describe it.” — Astros third baseman Alex Bregman

“Holy shit,” Ryan Pressly says when asked to describe his reaction on seeing McCormick’s all-out sprint, leap and catch while crashing into the wall.

Holy Chas Catch.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - Astros Playoffs

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