Oswalt's new bulldozer a reward for clinching start

Updated: December 19, 2005, 5:33 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- By the third inning of the Houston Astros' pennant-clinching victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, Roy Oswalt was dreaming about a bulldozer.

The right-handed ace remembered what Astros owner Drayton McLane promised him in the clubhouse before the game -- win and you'll get that all-purpose tractor you've always wanted.

There are going to be a lot of jealous people around where I live. I'm going to try to hire out and make a little money in the offseason.
Roy Oswalt

Oswalt came through, allowing one run in seven innings in the Game 6 victory that sent Houston to its first World Series.

On Monday, McLane fulfilled his part of the bargain, presenting Oswalt with a shiny, new Caterpillar D6N XL -- with a giant red bow on top of the cab.

"That's a pretty good gift for Christmas, for sure,'' Oswalt said.

The Weir, Miss., native beamed as he climbed aboard the corn-colored machine, hauled into the parking lot at Minute Maid Park on a flatbed tractor-trailer.

"This is a dozer you can do anything with,'' Oswalt said.

McLane said a bulldozer has been on Oswalt's wish list almost from the day he moved up to the majors in 2001. The model he purchased for Oswalt cost about $200,000.

"Each year, with our players, I ask them what their goals are,'' McLane said. "I said, 'Roy, what is one of your goals?' He said, 'To own a bulldozer.' That kind of took me back a little bit. I had never heard that before.''

Oswalt said the bulldozer -- not his rising baseball stardom -- will make him the envy of everyone in his tiny hometown. He'll use the new toy to repair two man-made lakes and build some roads at the 1,000-acre ranch he owns with his brother.

"There are going to be a lot of jealous people around where I live,'' Oswalt said. "I'm going to try to hire out and make a little money in the offseason.''

Astros general manager Tim Purpura joked that the team made baseball history by placing the first "bulldozer clause'' into a contract. Teams are required to disclose any high-dollar gifts given to players.

"We've achieved a great historical milestone,'' Purpura said with a smile.

Other than not offering arbitration to Roger Clemens, the Astros have done little dealing this offseason. The 28-year-old Oswalt, who has one year left on a two-year, $17 million contract he signed last February, said he has not spoken with Clemens, who has not said whether he'll retire.

"I don't know anything about it,'' Oswalt said. "They tell me to pitch and I pitch. That's all I do.''

Purpura said the Astros were in the running to sign Nomar Garciaparra until the All-Star shortstop opted for Los Angeles.

Last week, the Astros re-signed catcher Brad Ausmus and infielder Mike Lamb. Closer Brad Lidge and third baseman Morgan Ensberg are eligible for arbitration.

Purpura was tight-lipped about other deals that might be in the works.

"We've been in the process of talking to other clubs,'' Purpura said. "Just because the holidays are here, we're going to try to keep working to improve this club, but we have to do it in a way where we're not going to mortgage our future and hurt ourselves long-term.''

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press