Megan Thee Stallion, Mark Wahlberg, Paul Wall, local country stars to help Houston Astros launch 2023 season

The opening-weekend festivities at Minute Maid Park also will include fan giveaways and ceremonies recognizing the Astros and their top players during last year’s World Series championship run.

Astros Fans Minute Maid Park
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
FILE: Fans head to Minute Maid Park in Downtown Houston ahead of Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Oct. 7, 2021.

The Houston Astros begin their latest World Series title defense this week with a series of celebrations, giveaways and celebrity appearances at Minute Maid Park.

Three-time Grammy Award-winning rapper and Houston native Megan Thee Stallion will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Thursday night's season opener against the Chicago White Sox, which is scheduled for 6:08 p.m. in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. Country music star Cody Johnson of Huntsville will sing the national anthem, and actor Mark Wahlberg, a friend of Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, will make the "play ball" call before the game.

Fans with tickets to the season opener can attend the Opening Day Street Fest from 3-6 p.m. outside the downtown ballpark, where there will be live music, food trucks and attractions such as face painting, caricature art and photo booths. The Astros will unveil their 2022 World Series pennant before the game, and all fans in attendance will receive a schedule magnet.

A championship ring ceremony for the Astros' players will be held before Friday's game, scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with fireworks after the game (weather permitting) and fans receiving replica World Series trophies. Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Lyle Lovett of the Klein area will perform the national anthem, Houston rapper Paul Wall will make the "play ball" call and former Astros catcher Jason Castro, a member of last year's title team, will throw the first pitch.

Country musician Parker McCollum, who grew up in Conroe, will throw the first pitch before Saturday's 1:10 p.m. game against the White Sox. Danielle Bradberry, a former winner on "The Voice" television show, is slated to sing the national anthem.

Fans in attendance on Saturday will receive a Jeremy Pena MVP bobblehead doll. There will be a pregame ceremony honoring Pena and Kyle Tucker as 2022 Gold Glove Award winners and Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez as Silver Slugger Award winners from last year.

A Jeremy Pena World Series replica ring will be given to fans in attendance for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox, scheduled for 1:10 p.m. The national anthem and "God Bless America" will be performed by local country/rock band The Powell Brothers, and kids ages 5-12 can run the bases after the game.

The Astros' seven-game homestand to start the 2023 season continues Monday night against the Detroit Tigers. It will be the first time this season that the Astros wear their special Space City uniforms.