1966 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History

Jan 06 - The Astros deal outfielder Johnny Weekly and cash to the Mets for pitcher Gary Kroll. The righthander would see just ten games with Houston.

Mar 04 - Andy Mota is born in Santo Domingo, DR. A September call-up during the 1991 season, the second baseman bats .189 in 27 games. His father Manny Mota was with the Houston franchise in the spring of 1963 but was traded before the regular season began.

Mar 19 - Players with the Astros and Dodgers are flown from Florida to Houston to test the new artificial surface. Balls bounce too high in the infield and engineers add more sand under the rug to make it behave more like natural grass.

Mar 22 - Sean Berry is born in Santa Monica, CA. The scrappy third baseman bats .283 with 38 homers in three seasons with the Astros (1996-1998), including two as division champions.

Apr 04 - A tornado rips through the Astros' spring training home in Cocoa, FL. Three light towers are toppled, one crashing into the grandstand. The scoreboard has vanished. The batting cages are ruined. That day's exhibition game with Kansas City is cancelled.

Apr 18 - The first major league game on artificial turf is played in the Astrodome. Two future Hall-of-Famers face off. 21-year-old rookie Don Sutton stymies Robin Roberts and the Astros for a 6-3 Dodger win, the first of his career. The infield was carpeted with the Monsanto product Judge Roy Hofheinz dubbed "Astroturf". The outfield and foul grounds were still dirt but had the zippered sod installed after the homestand.

Apr 22 - Dave Giusti surrenders eight hits but walks away with a 2-0 shutout against the Giants. Giusti delivers three hits of his own but solo homers by Joe Morgan and Jim Gentile provide all the scoring.

Apr 30 - A dropped third strike keys a 5-4 win over the Braves. Phil Niekro has Rusty Staub out on strikes but he is safe at first after Gene Oliver lets the pitch roll away in the ninth inning. John Bateman eventually singles Staub home with the game-winner. Lee Maye and Jim Gentile also homer for Houston.

May 03 - Joe Morgan homers and drives in three to pace the Astros past the Cubs, 10-2. Dave Giusti is the complete-game winner, assisted by three Chicago errors that provide five unearned runs. Sonny Jackson adds three hits and a stolen base.

May 05 - "13" is not an unlucky number when the Astros trip the Cubs, 4-3, in 13 innings. Jim Wynn singles home Joe Morgan for Houston's 13th win of the season. Dick Farrell and Bill Faul, who both wear 13 on their backs, are the starters but it's Frank Carpin who gets the victory.

May 13 - Dick Farrell and Claude Raymond combine for a one-hitter in Philadelphia. The Astros only manage three hits themselves but the last is a ninth-inning blast by Jim Wynn off Chris Short that hits the roof of Connie Mack Stadium for a 1-0 victory.

May 18 - Houston sweeps the Cubs, 5-1 and 4-2, to take sole possession of second place in the NL race. Homers by Lee Maye and Rusty Staub back Dave Giusti in the opener while Robin Roberts notches his 284th career victory in the nightcap. Astros sit 2-1/2 games behind the Giants for first.

May 25 - Dave Nicholson goes four-for-four with a home run while John Bateman goes three-for-three with a homer and a triple as the Astros club the Mets, 7-1. Larry Dierker strikes out eight and hurls a complete-game five-hitter. Houston moves to 2-1/2 games back of the Giants in second place, the closest they would be to the top of the standings this deep into the season until 1972.

May 29 - Jim Gentile drills a homer off Elroy Face in the eleventh inning to drop Pittsburgh, 3-2. John Bateman had earlier gone deep off Vern Law to send the game into overtime. Claude Raymond picks up the win.

Jun 02 - Houston produces nine hits, including eight consecutive singles, in the 12th inning to subdue the Reds, 11-4. The inning starts as a 3-3 tie when Bob Aspromonte singles off Jack Baldschun. Base knocks by Rusty Staub, Ron Brand, Jim Gentile, Joe Morgan, Sonny Jackson, Jim Wynn and Dave Nicholson follow. Staub later doubles in the frame. Claude Raymond survives a bases-loaded scare for the victory.

Jun 12 - Astros pitcher Dave Giusti tosses a complete game for an 8-4 victory over the Cubs. Giusti also goes 3-for-3 at the plate, including a double. John Bateman belts a two-run homer, Rusty Staub gets a two-run inside-the-park homer and Dave Nicholson adds a three-run shot.

Jun 14 - 19-year-old Larry Dierker outduels Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax for a 3-0 whitewash of the Dodgers. Dierker surrenders just five hits. A two-run single by Chuck Harrison and a solo shot by Bob Aspromonte supply the offense.

Jun 22 - The Astros set a home attendance mark which stands for 22 years, as 50,908 fans watch Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers down Houston, 5-2. Koufax is no mystery to Jim Wynn who goes 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles. John Bateman also doubles twice but they don't get enough help elsewhere.

Jun 25 - A batting-practice line-drive by Lee Maye strikes Joe Morgan, breaking his kneecap and forcing him to miss 40 games as well as an All-Star appearance. Morgan's replacement, Bob Lillis scores the winning run in a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals. Mike Cuellar fans 15 Redbirds in the win.

Jun 28 - Joe Morgan becomes the first Astro named to start in an All-Star Game. Unfortunately, Morgan had broken his kneecap three days earlier and is unable to play. He was hitting .319 at the time of his injury. On the field, Houston loses at Pittsburgh, 4-3, but remain a surprising fourth in the National League race.

Jul 07 - After playing half the season with an artificial turf infield and a spray-painted dead grass outfield, the Astros depart for twelve days while the grounds crew rips up the sod and replaces the outfield with Astroturf. The last chunk of green dirt is boxed and shipped to Chicago's Leo Durocher, a vocal critic of the new surface.

Jul 10 - Mike Cuellar slams the door in the eighth with the bases loaded and nobody out to preserve a 6-5 triumph in St. Louis. Rusty Staub bashes two home runs and drives in four while Bob Lillis singles home the game-winner. It's a sweltering 104 degrees as the Great Plains bake in a killer heatwave. Cuellar induces a double play grounder from infielder Jimy Williams to end the contest - one of the 14 big league games in Williams' playing career.

Aug 01 - Jim Wynn swats a drive over the left field roof at Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium, clearing a 15-foot sign rising above it. Later, Bob Aspromonte belts a three-run shot to tie the Phils at 5-5. In the top of the tenth, Wynn tries to steal home and is called out despite howls of protest from the Houston bench. In the bottom half, Wynn dives for a deep drive by Richie Allen, misses and crashes into the center field iron fence. Allen dashes around the bases with the winning run while Wynn's season is over after x-rays reveal multiple fractures.

Aug 09 - John Bateman notices his catcher's mitt is gone from Wrigley Field. Bob Aspromonte and Nate Colbert have also had their gloves stolen. Bateman gets his revenge by smashing two home runs in an 8-5 triumph. Dave Giusti surrenders four home runs but Houston rallies with five runs in the ninth. Carroll Sembera gets his first big league win.

Aug 11 - Lee Maye goes 5-for-5 and Bob Aspromonte belts a grand slam but it's not enough to stop the Cubs, 9-8, in eleven. Darkness suspends the second game of the twinbill with Houston up, 8-5. Maye gets his sixth straight hit in the nightcap. The Cubs agree to finish the game during an upcoming trip to Houston.

Aug 13 - Dave Giusti allows a second-inning single to Cap Peterson and nothing more as he outduels San Francisco's ace Juan Marichal, 3-0 . Giusti walks none and strikes out four while facing 28 batters. Ron Davis rips his first big league homer while Sonny Jackson swipes his 37th base, setting a new NL rookie mark.

Aug 21 - Little boys dream of a day like Dave Giusti has. Giusti slaps two bases-loaded doubles, as well as hurling a six-hit shutout, in blanking the Reds, 11-0. The pitcher's six RBIs stand as a club record for 23 years. The win completes a four-game sweep of Cincinnati.

Aug 26 - Angry Cub Manager Leo Durocher rips the dugout phone off the wall and throws it onto the Astrodome field. Bob Aspromonte deepens Leo's misery with a grand slam home run that sparks a 7-4 comeback victory. Southwestern Bell replaces the phone the next day and the Astros hand Durocher the repair bill.

Sep 16 - Sonny Jackson goes 5-for-5 and Chuck Harrison belts a grand slam as the Astros break nemesis Chris Short and the Phillies, 6-4. Mike Cuellar tosses his sixth straight complete game.

Sep 18 - 19-year-old Nolan Ryan of Alvin pitches for the New York Mets at the Dome. He strikes out the side in his one inning of work. He also surrenders two walks and four hits as the Astros plate four runs. Houston wins, 9-2. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, another Met rookie, Tug McGraw, is lit for four early runs as the Astros hold on to sweep it, 6-5.

Sep 30 - 20-year-old Larry Dierker takes a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Mets but he loses it all, 1-0. A double by Eddie Bressoud and an infield hit by Ron Hunt break up the gem.

Oct 28 - Tim Bogar is born in Indianapolis, IN. He provides steady infield help for three division champions in Houston but bats just .207 when he gets a chance to start regularly in 2000.

Nov 02 - Orlando Merced is born in Hato Rey, PR. The outfielder-first baseman had been a thorn in Houston's side during several seasons with the Pirates. Merced spends three seasons in Houston (2001-2003) as a reserve, batting .262 with 15 home runs.

Nov 14 - Curt Schilling is born in Anchorage, AK. The sturdy righthander is 3-5 with eight saves in his one season in Houston (1991) before being traded to Philadelphia, a deal that Bill Wood probably regrets to this day.

Nov 18 - Eddie Jack "Scooter" Tucker is born in Greenville, MS. In parts of three seasons in Houston (1992-1995), the catcher hits .157 with one homer before being dealt to the Indians.

Nov 25 - Sonny Jackson is runner-up for N.L. Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old shortstop bats .292 and steals 49 bases. The award goes to Cincinnati infielder Tommy Helms.

Nov 28 - Astros draft pitcher Bo Belinsky from the Phillies organization in the winter supplemental draft and pitcher Pat House from the Braves. Belinsky is soon regaling the Houston press with tales of his vaunted night life. The Astros will assign catcher Ron Brand, a Mormon, to be his roommate on the road.

Dec 31 - On New Year's Eve, the Astros bring perennial All-Star Eddie Mathews to Houston along with utilityman Sandy Alomar and pitcher Arnie Umbach from the Braves for pitcher Bob Bruce and outfielder Dave Nicholson. It's near the end of the line for Mathews, though, who plays just four months for the Astros.