CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — He became one of the biggest celebrities at Houston Astros games by being one of their best fans.
Though 81-year-old Valentin Jalomo lived in Houston, his heart resided in the Coastal Bend -- specifically, in Taft -- according to his granddaughter Jazmin Gutierrez.
"He would always tell us, 'I'm from a small cotton-pickin' town in Texas,' " she said.
Gutierrez said her grandfather began attending Astros games in 1965, when the Astrodome was built. She said he was a big fan who had a big smile, and an even bigger handlebar mustache, which definitely attracted attention.
"People would ask him for pictures, and it became an everyday thing at the park," Jazmin said.
His mustache was so impressive he won a contest in the early 1980's in the Coastal Bend, and Jazmin said the prize was to meet and have his picture taken with Selena.
"I know a lot of Corpus people are proud of Selena," she said. "He loved her."
Jalomo entered the hospital Jan. 4 with COVID-19 and battled the novel coronavirus for two weeks. He died Tuesday.
Astros star Alex Bregman sent Jalomo a video message wishing him well, and told him he was growing a mustache in his honor. Two hours later, Jalomo died.
"He went out fighting, and he went out peacefully," Jazmin said.