Skip to main content

Q&A With Astros Minority Owner Janet Gurwitch

The businesswoman was inspired to join the team’s ownership group by the book ’Moneyball’

Dynasties are extremely rare in any sport. Other than the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s and ’90s and the recent New England Patriots, sustained high-end success for sports teams has been hard to accomplish as of late. However, with great management, loads of young talent, and seasoned veterans, the Houston Astros could be on a path to a dynasty.

After winning only 51 games in the 2013 season, it was apparent that the Astros were heading into a long rebuilding phase with a dim future. While the team was subpar yet again in 2014, they were infused with youth, including players such as Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, who came to prominence as superstars soon after. As a result, Houston made the postseason in 2015, and things have only improved. Let’s discuss why.

Gurwitch and Altuve a World Series title together.

Gurwitch and Altuve a World Series title together.

Despite being accused of cheating in the 2017 World Series for stealing-signs, the Astros have done their best to silence doubters in the last five years by making six consecutive ALCS appearances. After dramatically winning the 2017 Fall Classic, Houston still had a potent offense and strong pitching with homegrown stars like Jeremy Pena developing. Though the team lost Carlos Correa and Gerrit Cole to free agency in the past three offseasons, the Astros’ farm system has been nothing short of fantastic in producing homegrown talent. Furthermore, the small amount of money spent on free agency by the front office is astounding. Many teams across professional sports leagues have winning cultures due to free agency and trades, which is not the case for Houston.

Dusty Baker’s tremendous leadership has been another reason for the Astros recent success. After his tenure with the Nationals ended on a sour note in 2017, he was hired by Houston three years later when A.J. Hinch was relieved of his managerial duties amidst the cheating scandal. While Baker isn’t a perfect manager, his relationship with players and his desire to be great shows how important he truly is to the team. He has a record of 230–154 in three seasons as the team’s manager, and the wins should increase by over 100 this upcoming season because of the top-tier offense and pitching the squad has.

MLB fans, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to watch a dynasty continue to form down in Texas. Jeremy Peña, Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez and Yordan Alvarez are all under the age of 30, a scary sight for opposing teams looking to contend with Houston in the American League. With two world championships in six years and a plethora of young talent, the Houston Astros are on the road to becoming a modern-day MLB dynasty.

Recently I had a chance to talk to Janet Gurwitch, who is one of the team’s minority owners about her job and the club.

SI Kids: As a minority owner of the Houston Astros, what are your day-to-day responsibilities within the clubhouse?

Janet Gurwitch: I don’t have many day-to-day responsibilities as the minority owner. Jim Crane is the main owner. I’m one of 12 who are on the team’s board, where the opportunity has taught me important aspects about business and baseball. As a board, we have four meetings per year, beginning with one during Spring Training. However, my responsibility is to support Jim Crane.. As a member of the team’s board, it is our priority to give Crane and the front office the support they need.

SIK: How long have you been a part-time owner?

JG: When Jim Crane bought the team from Drayton McLane in 2012, I came in with him and his group. So just over a decade.

SIK: Do you have interactions with players or coaches?

JG: At Spring Training I often sit close to coaches at dinners. As far as players, I have photographs with [Jose] Altuve and [George] Springer. More importantly, our board is friendly with Alex Bregman and his wife. While I have met every player, I know Bregman the best out of all, as I’ve been at dinner parties with him and his wife.

SIK: What is your favorite part about having this job, and why?

JG: So many facets. To see Jim Crane, a fantastic businessman, buy a team performing poorly early in the 2010s and watch him change that. Crane built the team like a “business” by constructing the team with an excellent manager and great coaches. I’ve been extremely impressed by how he has built the team from the ashes after they were one of the worst teams in the league. Additionally, I have learned important tidbits about business from this job. Watching Dusty Baker’s leadership and his phenomenal player interactions is awesome to see.

Alvarez's home run was a highlight for Gurwitch.

Alvarez's home run was a highlight for Gurwitch.

SIK: What is the most entertaining Astros game you have witnessed in-person?

JG: Hard question! If I had to pick one, I would choose Game 1 of the 2022 ALDS against the Seattle Mariners. Down 2, Yordan Alvarez hit a walkoff three-run homer. I was tearing up inside the stadium, as I wasn’t confident we were going to win. I have seen so many great games and plays, but this one takes the cake.

SIK: How did you get to be in the position you’re in?

JG: I originally had a makeup company called Laura Mercier, based in Houston. I began it in 1993 and sold it in 2008. I was inspired by the book “Moneyball” in 2003, which was partially about business, as I built my company. While the book was about baseball, it also had important business information. The book resonated with me because I felt Laura Mercier, competing against [a bigger company like] Chanel without assets, was still able to rise to prominence as a company, having success in Houston. So, even though my business was entirely female, I had everyone read the book “Moneyball.”

After I sold my company, Jim Crane inspired me to strive for excellence and win for the city of Houston. Crane put together a group of tremendous investors and offered me the chance to join. I believed in Crane and loved baseball, and that’s how I got involved. Additionally, he wanted to win for the city by putting together a group of well-respected investors. I’m so appreciative of him, and this has served as a new dimension for me business-wise.

SIK: Have you always been a baseball fan?

JG: As a kid, I played softball. I had an idea of how the game works since I played it. After I read “Moneyball,” I began to attend Astros games and learned lots of information about the game of baseball. I never dreamed of being a minority owner, but I understand baseball well and love it.

SIK: Have you lived in Texas for most of your life? If so, how is life there?

JG: I have lived here for many decades. I am from Mississippi and went to the University of Alabama. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote in my diary about my desire to move to Texas in order to explore business opportunities and more. I find that Houston has an ease to it, easy to navigate and has professional sports teams. Additionally, the city has great arts, ballet and opera. It’s a wonderful place to live!

SIK: How many Astros games do you attend per year, on average?

JG: During the season, I attend around 20 games per season. In the postseason, I probably attend every home game. This year, we played until early November so the season was especially long. I’ll also be at Spring Training in March, which I’m looking forward to.

SIK: Describe the challenges of recovering from Hurricane Harvey

JG: Many, many homes had major damage, including some of my friends' houses. The fact that we won the World Series in the same year was so uplifting, and brought the city together.