With Halloween just a few days away, here are some of the darkest moments in the history of the Houston Astros. They are in no particular order.
The beaning of Dickie Thon. In the fifth game of the 1984 season, short-stop Dickie Thon is lost for the year after being hit in the face by a fastball from Mets’ pitcher Mike Torrez. The pitch broke the orbital bone around his left eye. Miraculously,Thon would play nine more seasons in MLB.
The death of Darryl Kile. Even though Darryl Kile was not a member of the Houston ball club at the time of his death, he will always be an Astro in the hearts of Astro fans everywhere. On June 22, 2002 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals he was found dead in his Chicago hotel room. The cause of death was due to a 90% blockage in two of his coronary arteries. Kile pitched for the Astros from 1991 to 1997 with a no-hitter in 1993 and was an All-Star with the Astros in 1993 and 1997.
The death of Jim Umbricht. Just five days before the 1964 season Umbricht would pass due to cancer, more specifically a malignant melanoma. Jim pitched for the Colt 45’s in 1962-1963. His uniform number (32) was retired immediately by the organization.
The stroke of J.R. Richard. J.R. Richard was a member of the Astros from 1971-1980. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball from 1976 to 1980. He won 20 games in 1976. In 1978 and 1979 he led the National league in strikeouts with 303 and 313 respectively. He also led the league with a 2.71 ERA in 1979. On July 30, 1980 Richard suffered a stroke and collapsed while playing catch before an Astros game. He would try to make a comeback in 1981 but was unsuccessful. He still holds the Astros record for most strikeouts in a single season with 313.
The Albert Pujols 2005 NLCS Game 5 bomb off Brad Lidge at Minute Maid Park. With a 3-1 series lead in the 2005 NLCS the Astros were up 4-2 in the ninth inning and about to clinch the NL pennant in their own ballpark. With two outs and two runners on base for St. Louis, Brad Lidge threw an 0-1 pitch to Pujols which still hasn’t landed. I was personally at this game with my father and even though the Astros went on to win Game 6 in St. Louis and advance to their first ever World Series, this was one of the darkest moments in Astros history.
The 2011 Season. In 2011 the Houston Astros posted their worst record in franchise history going 56-106. They finished 40 games out of first place. Offensively the team only hit 95 home runs, which was next to last in both leagues, only ahead of San Diego (91). The pitching staff had an ERA of 4.51, the worst in the NL and allowed 188 home runs, also worst in the league. Their longest winning streak of the season was only four games. At the end of July the team traded All-Star outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, thus making way for a youth movement in Houston. Can Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez, Brian Bogusevic, Jimmy Paredes, Jordan Lyles and a host other youngsters lead the franchise back to its’ winning ways?
Not resigning Nolan Ryan in 1989. After nine solid seasons in Houston, “The Ryan Express” left town following the 1988 season after a contract dispute. The Hall of Famer would go on to throw two more no-hitters with the Texas Rangers before retiring in 1993. Ryan is now the president and owner of the Texas Rangers, who are appearing in their second consecutive World Series.His seven no-hitters and 5,714 career strikeouts are still MLB records. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of fame in 1999 with 98.79% of the votes
What do you think? What moments would make your your list?