When the Philadelphia Phillies made former Houston Astros’ ace pitcher Roy Oswalt a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, the Mississippi native didn’t jump at the first offer just to get back into the game.

He borrowed the idea of his former Astros’ mound teammates Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and waited until the 2012 season was well under way and selected the team he wished to play for next.

Several teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees were itching to get Oswalt’s name on their contract, but The Wizard patiently pondered the situation and then remembered his days back in the Astros’ minor league system.

The owner of the Class AA Round Rock franchise went to bat for him back in 2000 and gave Oswalt a chance to stay there rather than shipping him back to Class A.

That person was none other than Nolan Ryan, who gave Oswalt a chance to remain at the Class AA level and The Wizard responded with an 11-4 record with a 1.94 Earned Run Average.

Roy remembered that and had no trouble deciding to sign a guaranteed one-year contract last weekend with Ryan’s Texas Rangers for $4 million and another $1 million in incentives.

Oswalt made his major league debut with the Houston Astros the following year on May 6, 2001 and posted a 14-3 record and went on to become the ace of the staff. He was with Houston for nine more years, posting a 142-82 record, and never had a losing season until 2010 when he was 6-12 halfway through the season.

At that time the sale of the team was pretty well completed on paper and Oswalt knew that owner Drayton McLane, Jr. was going to start dumping the big-salaried players for new owner Jim Crane and requested a trade to a contending team.

The then-General Manage Ed Wade still had plenty of connections with his former team—the Philadelphia Phillies—and was able to oblige Oswalt’s request. The Wizard became a Phillie and finished out the season at 7-1, keeping alive his credentials of never having a losing season in the major leagues.

However Oswalt’s injury-plagued 2011 season wasn’t a good one as he finished the season at 9-10 and the Phillies didn’t renew his contract, making him a free agent. He remained a free agent until last week when he signed with the Texas Rangers.

Now at 34 years old, Oswalt worked out religiously during the winter months and has been throwing regularly throughout the spring, waiting to pick up his brilliant career where he left off a year ago.

Oswalt always enjoyed his stay in the Lone Star State and was leaning toward resuming his career in Texas.

The Rangers’ plan was for Roy to return to the mound at Class AAA Dell Diamond for the first time in 12 years and pitch two innings, which he did Saturday night at Round Rock. Oswalt hadn’t pitched competitively since being out of the game since last October in Game 4 of the National League Division Series in 2011.

The Wizard pitched two scoreless innings for the Round Rock Express in a 3-2 win over Albuquerque before a sellout crowd of 11,532, according to Sunday’s edition of the Austin American-Statesman, threw 34 pitches (21 strikes), he allowed three singles (two were bloopers) with a walk and a strikeout.

The article added that Oswalt’s fastball sat at 91-92 mph, with one hitting 94, and he mixed in several looping 68 mph curves.

“It’s about where I thought I’d be in velocity and stamina, my command was pretty good,” Oswalt told the Austin newspaper.

Oswalt said the Rangers’ plan is for him to make three more starts for the Express, increasing his workload from about 60 to 80 to 100 pitches, and then join the Rangers in late June.

Oswalt admitted he chose the Rangers over the other teams persuing him because of club president Nolan Ryan and Roy’s affinity for the state of Texas.

“Nolan gave me a chance to stay here (Round Rock) in 2000. He went to bat for me,” Oswalt revealed. “I could have gone to two or three different places for a lot more money.

“I love Texas. I got to play 9½ years for the Astros, and Houston was a great place,” The Wizard continued. “So now I’m with the Rangers, and they’ve obviously been close to winning it all the last two years. Maybe they need one person to put them over the edge, and I hope I’m that person.”

Now this Korner has a problem. I’ve ALWAYS been a Roy Oswalt fan but have NEVER been a Texas Rangers fan.

KWICKIES…A follow-up on our recent article about Orange native Bruce Aven winning the Class 5A state baseball championship in Florida last month, Aven also was named the All-Broward County Coach of the Year for Classes 2A through 5A. Aven also was selected as a coach for the South Florida All-Star game.

Former pitcher Don Larsen is selling the New York Yankees uniform he wore when he became the only man to pitch a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. According to this week’s issue of USA Today Sports Weekly, the New York Times reports Larsen is hoping to raise money for his grandchildren’s college education. The uniform catcher Yogi Berra wore in the game went for $565,000. The auction starts Oct. 8 (the day he threw the perfect game) and ends Dec. 2 at steinersports.com.

It was almost like old times again when Tiger Woods rallied from four strokes down in Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour Memorial Tournament at Dublin, Ohio to fire a 67 and win the event by two strokes over Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini. Ironically, the tourney was played on the Muirfield Village golf course Jack Nicklaus built, and was Tiger’s 73rd tour victory, tying him with Nicklaus for second place for career PGA Tour victories. The immortal Sam Snead posted 82 tourney wins.

The Houston Astros finally halted their eight-game losing streak Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park with a 5-3 victory over the red-hot Cincinnati Reds. The Astros had gotten to within one game of the .500 mark before losing eight straight games and stand at 23-31 going into Tuesday night’s game against the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who are currently riding a five-game losing streak of their own.

If the home team continues to win in the NBA conference championships, the two teams playing for the World championship will be the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. Going into Monday night’s action in the Western Conference, both San Antonio and Oklahoma City are tied at 2-2, while Miami and Boston also stand at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference playoff.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Mighty Mustangs Athletic Organizations of West Orange Stark High School is having its annual golf tournament Monday June 25, 2012 at Sunset Grove Country Club. The format is a four-player scramble with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. The tourney will feature closest-to-the-hole and long drive contests, a silent auction and live auction which are both open to the public. The individual entry fee is $125 which includes a golf cart, free lunch with drink included and a goodie bag or $500 for a four-player team. Individual hole sponsorships also are available for $200, $500 will include one hole sign and two complimentary entry fees and $1,000 includes one hole sign and four complimentary entry fees. Platinum corporate sponsorships are available for $1,000 and gold corporate sponsorships are $500. Entry fee deadline is June 18, 2012. For more information please contact Ray Hancock at (409)-988-6833.