The Houston Astros are a professional baseball team based in Houston, Texas. The Astros are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From 2000 to the present, the Astros have played their home games at Minute Maid Park. The Astros joined MLB under the name Colt .45s along with the New York Mets in . The Astros current owner is Drayton McLane, Jr.
Houston had been making efforts to bring a Major League franchise to their city before the expansion in 1962. There were four men chiefly responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston. George Kirksey and Craig Cullinan, who lead a futile attempt to purchase the St. Louis Cardinals in 1952, R.E. “Bob” Smith, a prominent Houstonian who was an oil and real estate magnate, and was brought in for his financial resources. Judge Roy Hofheinz, a former Mayor of Houston and Harris County Judge was brought in for his salesmanship and political style. They formed the Houston Sports Association as their vehicle for attaining a big league franchise for the city of Houston.
Major league owner’s refusal to entertain any interest in expanding baseball, the four joined forces with would-be owners from other cities and announced they would start their own league to compete with the established National and American Leagues. They would call the new league the Continental League. Wanting to protect potentially new markets caused both existing leagues to expand by two teams. Houston won a franchise in the National League to begin play in 1962. The continental League folded before it ever started.
The new Houston team was named the Colt .45s after a "Name The Team" contest was held. Since the Colt .45s were to be placed in the National League West, the organization decided on the the name because the Colt .45 was the gun that won the west. The colors selected were navy blue and orange. The first team was a collection of cast-offs stocked primarily through an expansion draft held after the 1961 season. The Colts made their choices alternately with the New York Mets, the other expansion franchise that put the National League at ten teams. They would play ball at Colt Stadium. Colt Stadium however was just a temporary field until Judge Hofheinz could build his indoor stadium. Hofheinz had convinced the National League owners that the sweltering Houston summers would not be a problem because he planned to build an indoor baseball stadium based loosely on the Coliseum in Rome. Bonds were passed and construction began but, until it was ready, the team played on some reclaimed marshland south of town, Colt Stadium was built on the same land that would eventually hold its famous successor. It was built on the cheap with little to protect fans from the weather or other hazards. True baseball fans hardly cared. Houston had become a "major league" city.
There was a bright spot in the line up in 1962. Román Mejías, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the expansion draft, was named the Colt .45s starting right fielder. It was in Houston Mejías would play the best season of his career. While he played better the first half of the season, an injury slowed him the second half of the season. However he still finished with a .286 batting average, 24 home runs, and 76 RBIs. His modesty and his hard play made him a fan favorite that year. Despite his good year Mejías was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the fall of 1962.
1963 saw more young talent mixed with seasoned veterans. Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan all made their major league debut in the 1963 season. Still, the results in the win-lose department did not change much. In fact, the Colt .45s finished in ninth place with a 66–96 record. The team was still building, trying to find that perfect mix to compete. Craft had plenty of rookies to play and on September 27 he fielded an all rookie team versus the New York Mets. Houston lost 10 – 3 but it was a glimpse of what was to come in the next few seasons.
The 1964 campaign began on a sad note. Pitcher Jim Umbricht died of cancer just before opening day. Umbricht was the only Colt .45s pitcher to post winning records in the Colt .45s first two seasons. So well liked by players and fans the Colt .45 retired his Jersey number 32 in 1965. Umbricht was 33 years old. On the field the 1964 Colt .45s got off to a quick start, but it would not last. Manager Harry Craft was fired presumably for wanting to play more experienced players, while the front office wanted to showcase the young up and coming talent. Craft was replaced by one of the Colt .45s coaches, Luman Harris. Some of that up and coming talent the front office wanted to showcase was a young pitcher by the name of Larry Dierker. He started versus the San Francisco Giants on his eighteenth birthday. He lost the game but it was the beginning of a long relationship with the Houston organization.
Just on the horizon the structure of the new domed stadium was more prevalent and the way baseball was watched in Houston, and around the league, was about to change.
With new manger Grady Hatton the Astros got hot right away. By May they were in second place in the National League West and looked like a team that could contend. Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, an Astros first, and Morgan was named as a starter on the All Star Team. The Astros cooled as quickly as they got hot. They lost Jimmy Wynn for the season after he crashed into an outfield fence in Philadelphia and Morgan had broken his knee cap. There were some good notes however. Sonny Jackson set a league record with 49 steals, and led the Astros with a .292 batting average. The Astros were a young team full of talent that was not yet refined and the inconsistencies of their youth showed on the field.
1967 saw third baseman Eddie Mathews join the Astros. Mathews, however, would play first base. The slugger hit is 500th home run while in Houston. He would be traded late in the season and Doug Rader would be promoted to the big leagues. Rookie Don Wilson pitched a no hitter on June 18th, Fathers Day, against the Braves. It was the first no hit, shut out, pitched in team history and in the Astrodome. Jimmy Wynn also provided some enthusiasm in 1967. The 5’9” Wynn was becoming know not only for how often he hit home runs, but for the distance of the home runs. Wynn set club records with 37 home runs, and 107 RBIs He also had a pinch hit single in the All Star game that year; another Astros first. As the season came to a close the Astros found themselves once again in ninth place and a winning percentage below .500. The team looked good on paper, but could not seem to make it work on the field.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination delayed the start to the 1968 season. When Robert F. Kennedy was killed two months later, Major League Baseball let teams decided if they would postpone games or not. Astros management decided to not postpone games. Rusty Staub and Bob Aspromonte sat out in protest. Both were traded at seasons end. April 15th saw a pitching dual that was on for the ages. Met pitcher Tom Seaver and Don Wilson faced each other in a pitching dual that lasted six hours! Seaver went ten frames allowing no walks and just two hits. Wilson went nine innings and allowed five hits and three walks. After the starters pitched eleven relievers, seven for the Mets and four for the Astros tried to end the game. The game finally ended when Aspromonte hit a shot toward Mets shortstop Al Weis. Wies had been perfect all night at short, but he was not the same player he was six hours earlier. Wies was not quick enough to make the play and the ball zipped into left field allowing Norm Miller to score. Houston hosted the All Star game in 1968 and as expected in the “Year of the Pitcher” the game was a low scoring match that saw the National league winning 1-0. Grady Hatton was fired as manager on June 18 and Harry Walker replaced him. Walker had been fired from Pittsburgh the year before The Astros ended the season in last place.
With baseball expansion and trades the Astros had dramatically changed in 1969. Gone were Aspromonte, Cuellar, and Staub, just to name a few. Added to the team were catcher Johnny Edwards, outfielder Jesus Alou, infielder Denis Menke and pitcher Dave Lemaster. Who would help the Astros finish better than they had since they started playing ball in 1962. Wilson continued pitching great and on May 1st threw the second no hitter of his career. He was just 24 years of age and was second to only Sandy Koufax for career no hit wins. Wilson’s no hitter lit the Astros fire and six days later the Astros tied a major league record by turning seven double plays. By may’s end the Astros had put together a ten game winning streak. The Astros infield tandem of Menke and Joe Morgan continued to improve and provided power at the plate and great defence. Morgan had 15 homers and stole 49 base while Menke led the Astros with 90 RBI’s. The Menke/Morgam punch was beginning to come alive. On September 10th the Astros were tied for fourth and only two games out of first, but fell to the Braves three days later. [Larry Dierker]] had no hit the Braves and was one out away from ending it when Felix Millan broke it up with a single. The Astros scored two runs in the thirteenth, but ex-teammates Aspromonte and Jackson lead a three run Braves comeback. It seemed to be the turning point for the Astros as they slid into fifth place and Atlanta went on to win the divison. The series against the Braves gave the Astros, and the fans, a taste of a penenate race. It was also the first time in the teams history they did not finish the season below .500. 1969 saw both the 1962 expansion teams improve, but it was the Mets that climed to the top winning the World Series. The Astros could no longer make excuses, they had the talent. It was time to become contenders.
The Astros in 1975 would also adopt the orange, yellow and navy "Rainbow Guts" uniforms that became a team trademark and would stay with them in some form through 1993. These uniforms (nicknamed "the popsicles") bore a black band around the sleeve with the number "40" written in white, honoring Don Wilson. They were originally made by Sand-Knit, were highly popular with fans, increased awareness of the Astros considerably, and kicked off a fashion trend which would spread to Astros' farm teams from the Dubuque Packers to the Charleston Charlies. Eventually, the Rainbow Guts would be worn by many a recreational softball team, as well as high schools and colleges (notably Seton Hall, Tulane, and Louisiana Tech). Also in 1975, GE and Ford took full control of the team.
At the same time, the Astros also switched from red-orange caps to a pure orange. The team began wearing navy caps on the road in 1980 and went with navy caps in all games beginning in 1983. The Astros would sport a toned-down version of the rainbow pattern from 1987 to 1993.
In 1972, the Astros had their best showing to date. Under three different managers—including the legendary Leo Durocher, whose last managerial job would be with these Astros—the Astros finished the season at 84–69, and in second place in the National League West.
It was with the Astros that Bob Watson scored the one millionth run in baseball history on May 4, 1975. Because there were other players in other venues competing simultaneously for the right to be designated with the milestone, Watson had to run around the bases after a home run at full speed so as to ensure that he would be the one credited with scoring the historic run.
Ford acquired sole control of the Astros in 1978. After only a year, it sold the team to a group headed by shipping magnate John McMullen.
After three seasons hovering around .500, the Astros would be involved in their first real pennant race in 1979. Though the team was dead last in power (they only hit 49 home runs as a team and nobody hit more than 10 home runs), the 1979 Astros were a team built around pitching and speed. In fact, the Astros led the National League with 190 steals; four of the Astros' regular players had over 30 steals. The team's stars included outfielder José Cruz, Sr., third baseman Enos Cabell and pitcher J.R. Richard. This formula enabled the Astros to lead the National League West for much of the season, leading the division by 10 games at the All-Star break. However, the team was unable to hold off the Cincinnati Reds, who edged out the Astros on the last weekend for the National League West title, ultimately winning the division by 1 1/2 games. The Astros started looking good in the National league west and the best was yet to come.
Following the season, Nolan Ryan signed with the Astros as a free agent, agreeing to MLB's first million-dollar per year salary. The club also brought back popular Texas native Joe Morgan (who began his Hall of Fame career with the Astros) to bring leadership to the young team.
Using much the same pitching and speed strategy in 1980 as they had in 1979, the Astros won their first NL West championship. They entered the final weekend series against the Dodgers with a three-game lead only needing to win one of the final three games to clinch the NL West. However, the Astros were swept, forcing a one game postseason playoff game—the first such playoff since the National League switched to two-division format in 1969. At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Joe Niekro won his 20th game as the Astros cruised to an easy 7–1 victory over the Dodgers, clinching the team's first divisional title with a 93–70 record.
In the ensuing National League Championship Series, the Astros pushed the Phillies to five games in what is widely regarded as one of the best postseason series in baseball history. The last four games all went to extra innings, with the final game decided by one run after many twists and turns in the late innings. In the decisive fifth game the Astros took a 5–2 lead into the top of the 8th against the Phillies. However, Nolan Ryan was unable to hold the lead, and the Astros lost to the Phillies in 10 innings, 8–7.
In 1980, J.R. Richard, considered to be a front-runner for the National League's Cy Young Award and one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, had a 10–4 record and an ERA of 1.73 on July 30, 1980 when he suffered a stroke before a game. In the days and weeks previous, Richard had complained of a "dead arm" and shoulder and neck pains. Additionally, in his last start on July 14, he said he was unable to read the catcher's signs. Although Richard survived the near-fatal stroke, he never pitched in the Major Leagues again.
In the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Astros made the playoffs once again as the second half Western Division champions. This ball club succeeded thanks to free agent acquisition Don Sutton. Even if their pitching was excellent, the Astros' "Chinese Water Torture" offense was so slow that it went "drip, drip, drip." They faced the Dodgers in the special pre-LCS playoffs. After winning the first two games, the Dodgers went on to win the final three games, thus making the Astros the first team in baseball history to lose a five-game series after winning the first two games.
After that loss to Los Angeles, the Astros' fortunes began to change for the worse. However, there were some shining moments that stood out—like in 1983 when Nolan Ryan became all-time strikeout leader in a game against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium. Ryan and Steve Carlton battled for the lead until Carlton retired and Ryan earned it for good. The next season, shortstop Dickie Thon was beaned in the head by Mets pitcher Mike Torrez, derailing what many thought would be an extremely promising career.
The Astros had many highlights. After the Astrodome hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July, the Astros went on a streak with five straight come-from-behind wins (two against the Mets and three against the Montreal Expos). In a game against the Dodgers]], pitcher Jim Deshaies (who came from the Yankees in exchange for [[Joe Niekro) started the game with eight straight strikeouts. On September 25, Mike Scott helped his team clinch the NL West by no-hitting the surprising San Francisco Giants. This was the only time in MLB history that any division was clinched via a no-hitter. Scott would finish the season with an 18–10 record and a Cy Young Award to go along with it.
Houston's opponents in the NLCS were their expansion cousins the New York Mets, a team that with 108 wins was considered a team for the ages, destined to win a World Championship. To add a hint of flavor to the matchup, both teams were celebrating their 25th season as MLB franchises that season.
The 1986 NLCS was noted for great drama and is considered one of the best postseason series ever. In Game 3, the Astros were ahead at Shea Stadium, 5–4, in the bottom of the 9th when closer Dave Smith gave up a two-run home run to Lenny Dykstra, giving the Mets a dramatic 6–5 win.
A historic bet on the series was made on live television between New York's famous talk show host, David Letterman, and former Houston mayor Kathryn J. Whitmire. Letterman agreed to pay $2000 if the Astros won, and Whitmire agreed to hang a picture of Mookie Wilson in her office if the Mets won. When the Mets won, Whitemire displayed a 10' x 10' photo of Wilson in her office.
However, the signature game of the series was Game 6. Needing a win to get to Mike Scott (who had been dominant in the series) in Game 7, the Astros jumped off to a 3–0 lead in the first inning but neither team would score again until the 9th inning. In the 9th, starting pitcher Bob Knepper would give two runs, and once again the Astros would look to Dave Smith to close it out. However, Smith would walk Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry, giving up a sacrifice fly to Ray Knight, tying the game. Despite having the go-ahead runs on base, Smith was able to escape the inning without any further damage.
There was no scoring until the 14th inning when the Mets would take the lead on a Wally Backman single and an error by left fielder Billy Hatcher. The Astros would get the run back in the bottom of the 14th when Hatcher (in a classic goat-to-hero-conversion-moment) hit one of the most dramatic home runs in NLCS history, off the left field foul pole. In the 16th inning, Darryl Strawberry doubled to lead off the inning and Ray Knight drove him home in the next at-bat. The Mets would score a total of three runs in the inning to take what appeared an insurmountable 7–4 lead. With their season on the line, the Astros would nonetheless rally for two runs to come to within 7–6. Kevin Bass came up with the tying and winning runs on base; however Jesse Orosco would strike him out, ending the game.
This 16-inning game held the record for the longest in MLB postseason history until October 9, 2005 when the Astros defeated the Atlanta Braves 7–6 in an 18-inning Division Series game. However, the 1986 game still holds the record for longest League Championship Series game. Also, Game 3 of the 2005 World Series would tie the record for longest World Series game at 14 innings, meaning that the Astros, despite having been to only 2 LCS and 1 World Series, have played in the longest game for each of the 3 levels in the modern MLB playoffs.
Following the 1988 season the Astros experienced significant change. Manager Hal Lanier, unable to build on the Astros' success in 1986, was dismissed following the season, and the team conducted a fire sale. Additionally, franchise icon Nolan Ryan left the team to join the Texas Rangers in 1989, after being considered "too old" by then-owner McMullen. Ryan went on to pitch two more no-hitters for the Rangers in the early 1990s to achieve a grand total of seven, more than anyone else in Major League history. Ryan also recorded his 5,000th strikeout and 300th win with the Rangers, and entered the Hall of Fame as a Ranger.
1989 would mark the rookie season of Craig Biggio, who would set team records in many offensive categories. Biggio started his career as a catcher, but was moved to second base so as to take full advantage of his speed and other offensive talents as well as to elongate his career.
The early 1990s were marked by the Astros' growing discontent with their home, the Astrodome. After the Astrodome was renovated for the primary benefit of the Houston Oilers, the Astros began to grow increasingly disenchanted with the facility. Faced with declining attendance at the Astrodome and the inability of management to obtain a new stadium, in the off-season Astros management announced its intention to sell the team and move the franchise to the Washington, D.C. area. However, the move was not approved by other National League owners, thus compelling the Astros to remain in Houston. Shortly thereafter, McMullen (who also owned the NHL's New Jersey Devils) sold the team to Texas businessman Drayton McLane in 1993, who committed to keeping the team in Houston.
Shortly after McLane's arrival, which coincided with the maturation of Bagwell and Biggio, the Astros began to show signs of consistent success. After finishing second in their division in 1994 (in a strike year), 1995, and 1996, the Astros won consecutive division titles in 1997, 1998, and 1999. In the 1998 season, the Astros set a team record with 102 victories. However, each of these titles was followed by a first-round playoff elimination, in 1998 by the San Diego Padres and in 1997 and 1999 against the Atlanta Braves. The manager of these title teams was Larry Dierker, who had previously been a broadcaster and pitcher for the Astros.
Coinciding with the change in ownership, the team switched uniforms and team colors after the season in order to go for a new, more serious image. The team's trademark "Rainbow Guts" uniforms were retired, and the team's colors changed to midnight blue and metallic gold. The "Astros" font on the team logo was changed to a more aggressive one, and the team's traditional star logo was changed to a stylized, "flying" star with an open left end. It marked the first time since the team's inception that orange was not part of the team's colors. Despite general agreement that the rainbow uniforms identified with the team had become tired (and looked too much like a minor league team according to the new owners), the new uniforms and caps were never especially popular with fans.
Off the field, in 1994, the Astros hired one of the first African American general managers, former franchise player Bob Watson. Watson would leave the Astros after the 1995 season to become general manager of the New York Yankees and helped to lead the Yankees to a World Championship in 1996. He would be replaced by Gerry Hunsicker, who until 2004 would continue to oversee the building of the Astros into one of the better and most consistent organizations in the Major Leagues.
However, in 1996, the Astros again nearly left Houston. By the mid-1990s, McLane (like McMullen before him) wanted his team out of the Astrodome and was asking the city to build the Astros a new stadium. When things did not progress quickly toward that end, he put the team up for sale. He had nearly finalized a deal to sell the team to businessman William Collins, who planned to move them to Northern Virginia. However, Collins was having difficulty finding a site for a stadium himself, so Major League owners stepped in and forced McLane to give Houston another chance to grant his stadium wish. Houston voters responded positively via a stadium referendum and the Astros stayed put.
In the 14 years since Drayton McLane has taken ownership of the Houston Astros, they have had the fourth best record in all of Major League Baseball. Only the Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves have done better overall.
The ballpark features a train theme, since the ball park was built on the grounds of the old Union Station. The locomotive also pays homage to the history of Houston, where by 1860, 11 different railroad companies had lines running through the city. This is also represented in the city of Houston's official seal. A train whistle sounds, and a locomotive transverses a wall above the outfield after Astros home run. The ballpark also contains quirks such as "Tal's Hill", which is a hill in deep center field on which a flagpole stands, all in fair territory. This was modeled after a similar feature that was located in Crosley Field, former home of the Cincinnati Reds. The terrace at Crosley Field was sloped at 15 degrees in left field, while Tal's Hill is sloped at 30 degrees in straightaway center. Over the years, many highlight reel catches have been made by center fielders running up the hill to make catches.
Perhaps most significantly, with its short left field fence (only slightly longer to left field than Fenway Park), overall shorter dimensions, and exposure to the elements, including the humid Texas air, Enron Field played like a hitters' park. This was a dramatic difference from the Astrodome, which was considered to be an extreme pitchers' park. In a challenge to home run hitters, owner Drayton McLane's office windows, located in the old Union Station above left field, are made of glass and marked as 442' from home plate.
With the change in location also came a change in attire. Gone were the blue and gold uniforms of the 1990s in favor a more "retro" look with pinstripes, a traditional baseball font, and the colors of brick red, sand and black. The "shooting star" logo was modified but still retained its definitive look.
The Astros' 2004 success had much to do with the postponed retirement of star pitcher Roger Clemens (a Houston resident), who ended 2004 with a record seventh Cy Young Award (his first in the NL). Clemens had previously announced that he was retiring after the season from the New York Yankees. However, after the Astros signed his former Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte and offered Clemens a number of perquisites (including the option to stay home with his family for certain road trips when he wasn't scheduled to pitch), Clemens reconsidered and signed a one-year deal with the Astros.
Additionally, the mid-season addition of Carlos Beltrán in a trade with the Kansas City Royals helped the Astros tremendously in their playoff run. Despite rumblings in July and August that the Astros might flip him to another contender, Beltrán would prove instrumental to the Astros' hopes, hitting eight home runs in the postseason. Following the season, after initially asserting a desire to remain with the Astros, Beltrán signed a long term contract with the New York Mets on January 9, 2005.
The Astros had also developed an excellent pitching staff, anchored by Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens (who had a league-low ERA of only 1.87), and Brandon Backe. Rookie starters Ezequiel Astacio and Wandy Rodríguez were also successful.
In July alone, the Astros went 22–7, the best single month record in the club's history. The Astros finished the 2005 regular season by winning a wild card berth on the final day of the regular season, just as they did in 2004, becoming only the second team to come from 15 games under .500 to enter the post season, the other team being the 1914 Boston Braves, now the Atlanta Braves. (Those Braves would go on and sweep the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. Coincidentally, the Astros beat out another Philadelphia team, the Phillies, for the Wild Card, to face the Braves in the first round of the playoffs.)
It is also notable that both the grand slam Lance Berkman hit in the 8th inning and the solo shot hit by Chris Burke in the 18th inning to win three hours later were caught by the same fan, Shaun Dean, in the left field Crawford Boxes. Dean, a 25-year-old comptroller for a construction company, donated the balls to the Hall of Fame and he and his son were rewarded with gifts from the Astros and the Baseball Hall of Fame as well as playoff tickets behind home plate.
The National League Championship Series (NLCS) featured a rematch of the 2004 NLCS. The Astros lost the first game in St. Louis, but would win the next three games with one in St. Louis and the next two in Houston. The Astros were poised to close-out the series in Houston, but the Cardinals managed to score three runs in the top of the 9th with a monstrous 3-run home run by Albert Pujols off Brad Lidge with two outs. The stunned crowd was silenced in disbelief. This would take the series back to St. Louis, where the Astros won the final game of the NLCS and the final game played at Busch Stadium.
Current honorary National League President William Y. Giles presented the Astros the Warren C. Giles Trophy, which is awarded to the National League Champion. It was Warren Giles, father of William and President of the National League from to , who in October 1960 awarded the city of Houston the Major League franchise that would become the Houston Astros. Roy Oswalt, who went 2–0 and had an ERA of 1.29, won the NLCS MVP.
On October 1 Astros were the last remaining team that still had a chance to reach the 2006 postseason; consequently they were the final MLB team to be officially eliminated from playoff contention.
On October 31, the Astros declined option on Jeff Bagwell's contract for 2007, subsequently ending his 15-year tenure as an Astro. Bagwell left his name well-known in the Astros history books. On November 11, Bagwell files for free agency. Finally to end his amazing career, Bagwell announced his retirement on December 15.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, November 10, the Astros made a one-year deal with Craig Biggio worth $5.15 million to continue his march into the history books as he eyes 70 more hits to reach 3,000. This will mark Biggio's 20th season as an Astro.
On December 8, Andy Pettitte, who signed with the Astros in 2003, announced that he will be returning to the Yankees accepting a 1 year $16 million contract with player option year also worth $16 million if picked up. "It shocked me that [the Astros] would not continue to go up, when the Yankees continued to push and push and pursue and they [the Astros] really didn't do much," Pettitte said. "It was a full-court press by the Yankees. I've talked to the guys, and obviously they wanted me to come back up there." The Astros reportedly offered a one-year $12 million contract but would not offer a player option for another year.
On December 8, frustrated by the Pettitte negotiations, the Astros were on the verge of acquiring right-hander Jon Garland from the Chicago White Sox in return for Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh but the deal was nixed by the White Sox because right-hander Taylor Buchholz reportedly failed a physical.
On December 12, the Astros traded 3 for 2 when they traded Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh to the Colorado Rockies for Rockies pitchers Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. This trade turned out terribly for the Astros by the end of the 2007 season, as Taveras continued to develop, Hirsh had a strong rookie campaign, and Jennings was oft-injured and generally ineffective.
By May 2007, the Astros had suffered one of their worst losing streaks since the 1995 season with 10 losses in a row, losing 4–3 to the Cincinnati Reds on May 30. The Astros were just one loss shy of tying their worst skid in franchise history, before snapping that streak the next day, also against the Reds.
On June 12, the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics for the first time in team history.
On June 28, second baseman Craig Biggio became the 27th player to accrue 3000 career hits. On the same night in the bottom of the 11th inning Carlos Lee hit a towering walk-off grand slam to win the game for the Astros.
On July 24, Craig Biggio announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2007 season, his 20th season with the club (and a franchise record). He hit a grand slam in that night's game which broke a 3–3 tie and led to an Astros win.
On July 28, the Astros traded RHP Dan Wheeler to Tampa Bay for right-handed slugger 3B Ty Wigginton and cash considerations. He is now signed through 2009. On July 29, long time and former All-Star third baseman Morgan Ensberg was designated for assignment to make room for newly acquired Wigginton.
On August 26, former first baseman Jeff Bagwell's number 5 was officially retired after a 15 year career with the Astros.
On September 17, in a 6–0 loss to the Brewers the Astros were officially eliminated from the 2007 playoffs.
On September 30, Craig Biggio retired, ending a 20-year career with the Astros.
On November 7, the Astros traded RHP Brad Lidge,and SS Eric Bruntlett to the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Michael Bourn, RHP Geoff Geary, and minor leaguer Mike Costanzo. Also utility player Mark Loretta accepts Houston's salary arbitration.
On November 30, the Astros and 2B Kazuo Matsui finalized a $16.5 million, three-year contract.
On December 27, the Astros came to terms on a deal with All-star, Gold Glove winner Darin Erstad.
In February the Astros signed Shawn Chacon to a one-year contract.
The Astros started off their Spring Training campaign with a loss to Cleveland on the 28th. Spring Training ended with a loss to the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid before the Stros went on to face the Padres. Manager Cecil Cooper and General Manager Ed Wade had a tough decision to make before the trip. Astros pitcher Woody Williams had a bad spring going 0–4 throughout the stay in Florida. They released him on March 30 with which he retired.
The Astros also announced their starting pitching rotation. As usual Roy Oswalt was given the ball on opening day. With Jason Jennings in Texas and Woody retired, the Astros named Brandon Backe to the second spot. Wandy Rodriguez would get the ball in the third spot with Shawn Chacon and Chris Sampson following them in the # 4 and 5 spots.
The Astros opened up their season in San Diego without second baseman Kazuo Matsui. Matsui, who had been injured in Spring Training was completing a Minor League rehab assignment. The game that day was bad for Houston because Roy Oswalt gave up four runs in six innings of work. The final was 4-0 Padres. Also the Astros lost the second game of the series with Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum also starting.
On Rodríguez's start, the Astros won their first game with a 9-6 victory over the Padres. Berkman hit a game-winning three-run home run in the 9th. In the final game of the series of the series Shawn Chacon pitched a good game but the Astros lost after Chacon exited with the score tied 2-2.
In May, the Astros have made some roster moves by sending rookie catcher J.R. Towles to the Triple A Round Rock Express and calling up center fielder Reggie Abercrombie. Dave Borkowski was sent down earlier in the month and Chris Sampson was moved to the bullpen and Brian Moheler moving into the starting rotation.
On June 25, Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely for insubordination. The next day the Astros placed him on waivers.
|World Series Champions|
|Wild Card Berth|
|2004||NL||Central||2nd||92||70||.568||13||3,087,872||38,121.9|| Won NLDS (3-2) (Braves)|
Lost NLCS (3-4) (Cardinals)
|2005||NL||Central||2nd||89||73||.549||11||2,804,760||34,626.7||Won NLDS (3-1) (Braves)|
Won NLCS (4-2) (Cardinals)
Lost World Series (0-4) (White Sox)
|Totals||416||383||.521||2005 National League Champions|
Since the formation of the original Bs, newer members have been added to the list during their time with the Astros, including Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltrán, Chris Burke, Brandon Backe, Michael Bourn and Eric Bruntlett. The ones of unusual note in the Killer B's group is Backe, Burke, and Bourn. Burke, achieved fame as a B when he delivered greatly for the Astros in the playoffs multiple times. Backe has hit home runs as a pitcher, and is good at bunting, as well as driving the ball for singles. Bourn is not a high batting average player, but is one of the fastest members of the Astros, perhaps faster than former Astro Willy Taveras. These three players are unusual to be considered Killer B's, but in many fans eyes have earned the title.
While there has yet to be an Astros player to go into the Hall of Fame as an Astro, there have been several that have played or managed in Houston.
While not officially retired, the Astros have not reissued number 57 since 2002, when former Astros pitcher Darryl Kile died as an active player with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The number 42 is retired by MLB in honor of Jackie Robinson
Television coverage is mainly on FSN Houston (a subfeed of FSN Southwest), although some games are on My Network TV affiliate KTXH, with the games produced by FSN Houston. Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies compose the broadcast team on TV.