1997 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History

Feb 03 - Astros avoid arbitration with pitcher Mike Hampton, agreeing to a $1.3 million dollar contract, halfway between what both sides wanted. Hampton responds with a 15-10 record and becomes a critical member of three division-winning Houston teams.

Feb 13 - Houston wins and loses their arbitration case with Darryl Kile. The inconsistent pitcher asks for a salary $1.27 million dollars more than what the Astros offer. The club prevails but, under the instruction of new Astro manager Larry Dierker and pitching coach Vern Ruhle, Kile goes on to have an outstanding year only to shun Houston and leave as a free agent after the season.

Feb 28 - Larry Dierker's managerial debut with the Astros is an 8-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Shane Reynolds delivers two shutout innings but the Tribe get to Mike Hampton, Jose Lima and Ramon Garcia for the decisive runs.

Mar 27 - New manager Larry Dierker finds out he doesn't get the final say on his own roster. Dierker wants to keep righthander Donne Wall on the pitching staff but Wall is sent to the minors in favor of Chris Holt. Wall returns when Sid Fernandez goes on the disabled list after only one start, yet pitches just eight games while Holt and Ramon Garcia fill the void in the Astros rotation.

Mar 31 - Houston acquires infielder Tim Bogar on waivers from the New York Mets. Bogar hits .219 in four seasons as a utility infielder. He also pitches twice during the 2000 campaign.

Apr 01 - Many considered Drayton McLane a fool for hiring broadcaster Larry Dierker as his manager, replacing Terry Collins. Dierker had never managed on any level. Dierker's debut comes on April Fool's Day, getting the last laugh on the Atlanta Braves, the defending league champs. Pat Listach drives in Brad Ausmus with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Shane Reynolds and Billy Wagner make it stand up for a 2-1 victory.

Apr 02 - Houston bunches six hits off Greg Maddux in the third inning and holds on for a 4-3 victory. Derek Bell's two-run double is the key blow. Mike Hampton picks up the win against Atlanta.

Apr 20 - Craig Biggio blasts two homers to topple Los Angeles, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium. His solo shot off Ismael Valdes stakes the Astros to an early lead but Raul Mondesi ties the game with a blast off Chris Holt. After Tim Bogar doubles, Biggio takes Tom Candiotti deep in the eighth for the game-winner.

Apr 23 - Seven Astros have multi-hit performances in an 11-7 thrashing at San Diego. Bill Spiers, Jeff Bagwell, Thomas Howard and Brad Ausmus have three-hit games in the 18-hit attack.

May 21 - An intentional walk to Jeff Bagwell with the bases empty and two outs in the 14th backfires on the Reds. It is Jeff's third free pass of the night but he steals second and scores on a single by Luis Gonzalez for a 4-3 triumph. Bill Spiers adds four hits.

May 24 - Darryl Kile blanks the Rockies at Coors Field for seven innings during a 7-0 whitewash, allowing four hits. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell blast homers for Houston. Kile would opt for Colorado and free agency after the season, despite warnings his pitching would suffer in the thin Rocky Mountain air.

Jun 05 - Bill Spiers draws his sixth consecutive walk (over three games) setting a franchise record during a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati. He is one short of the major-league record. Spiers' streak is broken later when he is hit by a pitch from Mike Remlinger. He walks in his next plate appearance four days afterwards. His consecutive on-base streak ends at 13 on June 11th, one shy of the NL mark in that category.

Jun 13 - Houston's first official interleague game does not go well as the American League's Minnesota Twins slap the Astros, 8-1. Brad Radke goes eight innings for the win and Houstonian Chuck Knoblauch gets four hits. Jeff Bagwell singles for Houston's first interleague hit.

Jul 06 - Tony Eusebio singles home Derek Bell in the bottom of the ninth to upend Cincinnati, 6-5. Jeff Bagwell wallops two home runs and drives in four to pace the Astro attack. Luis Gonzalez also homers. Deion Sanders takes Mike Hampton deep to tie the game at five all.

Jul 12 - Pittsburgh's Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon team to no-hit the Astros, 3-0, in ten innings. Cordova is flawless through the first nine, but Chris Holt and Billy Wagner shut down the Pirates. After a perfect 10th from Rincon, John Hudek walks two then surrenders a three-run blast to Mark Smith.

Jul 15 - Bill Spiers drills a pinch-hit three-run ninth-inning homer off Mel Rojas to stun the Cubs, 5-3. Darryl Kile wins his 12th of the season. The win puts Houston back at .500, a game behind Pittsburgh in the Central Division race.

Jul 20 - Luis Gonzalez clobbers two home runs, including a grand slam, and drives in six to pace a 9-0 drubbing in Montreal. He completes a series where he goes 9-for-11 at the plate. Darryl Kile gets two hits of his own during a complete game four-hit shutout that drops his ERA to 1.99.

Aug 12 - The little guys bulk up as Chuckie Carr and Tim Bogar go deep in a 13-2 drilling of the Marlins. Carr adds a double to his three hits. Mike Hampton picks up the victory.

Aug 21 - Six Astros have two-hit nights in a 10-4 rout of Colorado. One of them is pitcher Chris Holt who also drives in a run. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell homer in the 15-hit assault.

Aug 22 - Darryl Kile improves his record to 17-3 with a 9-1 victory over the Rockies. His ERA shrinks to 2.28. Kile adds a run-scoring single to a six-run sixth inning. Tim Bogar's two-run triple and Derek Bell's two-run double also highlight the frame. In the ninth, Mike Magnante ties a major-league record by striking out the side on nine pitches. He's the third Astro to accomplish this feat.

Aug 27 - Jeff Bagwell's two-run bomb off Paul Byrd finishes a wild 6-4, 13-inning triumph in Atlanta. A ninth-inning triple by Bill Spiers and a homer by Chuckie Carr off Mark Wohlers send the game to overtime. The teams trade tallies in the 11th before Bagwell settles the issue. Jose Lima gets the save.

Sep 12 - Derek Bell drives in four to pace the Astros over Los Angeles, 10-3. His two-run homer may have been to cover the embarrassment of being caught off first earlier on a throw by Raul Mondesi. Ricky Gutierrez plates three to help the cause. Houston leads the N.L. Central by 3-1/2 games over Pittsburgh, yet are only two games over .500 at 74-72.

Sep 16 - Jeff Bagwell launches his 40th homer of the season in a 15-3 laugher over San Diego. Sean Bergman is the victim. Bagwell's blast comes in a six-run fourth that extends the lead to 13-1. Ramon Garcia benefits from the offensive support for his seventh win.

Sep 22 - Jeff Bagwell steals third base against Mike Remlinger of Cincinnati to become the first 30-30 (HRs, SBs) player in franchise history. Houston tops the Reds, 6-3. A four-run eighth is the difference, keyed by a two-run pinch single by Bill Spiers.

Sep 25 - Astros clinch their first N.L. Central title with a 9-1 triumph over the Cubs . Brad Ausmus opens up a tight 2-1 duel with a three-run bomb off Jeremi Gonzalez in the seventh that starts a six-run uprising . Mike Hampton allows just four hits for his 15th win.

Oct 01 - Atlanta clubs the Astros, 13-3, to take Game Two of the N.L.D.S. The Braves go up, 2-0, in the series. Eight walks from Mike Hampton does not help Houston's cause.

Oct 03 - Atlanta makes quick work of Houston's post-season. John Smoltz hurls a three-hitter for a 4-1 clincher in Game Three of the N.L.D.S. A solo shot by Chuckie Carr is the lone Astro run .

Oct 23 - Craig Biggio is named the winner of the sixth annual Branch Rickey Award for outstanding community service. Biggio lends his name and time to several charitable organizations in Houston, particularly those who help with childrens diseases.

Oct 30 - Five years to the day after officially acquiring the ballclub, owner Drayton McLane, Jr. is on hand for groundbreaking ceremonies on a new downtown stadium. It's tentatively named the "Ballpark at Union Station" where the former train depot was located. The stadium is funded in a number of ways and the sale of naming rights will be part of the process.

Nov 11 - Outfielder Moises Alou is acquired for pitchers Oscar Henriquez, Manny Barrios and Mark Johnson. Alou's four seasons in Houston are marked with superb play and controversy. In three of those years, he averages 31 homers, 115 RBIs and a .331 batting average. In the other year, he misses the entire season with a knee injury that leaves others questioning his commitment to the team.

Nov 18 - The Arizona Diandmondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays hold an expansion draft as the two newest entrants to the major leagues. Tampa tabs Houston outfielder Bob Abreu who is then traded to the Phillies. Arizona selects pitchers Russ Springer and Tom Martin off the Astros roster.

Nov 24 - The last parcels of land for a new downtown ballpark near the old Union Station terminal are acquired by the H.S.A. The largest sale is from a man named Billy Marlin. Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) are already on board with a stadium design and Brown and Root will serve as project managers for stadium construction. In other news, the Astros sign outfielder Dave Clark to a free agent contract. Clark bats .206 in 93 games during one disappointing season in Houston.

Nov 26 - Pitcher Doug Henry is signed as a free agent. The reliever posts a three-year mark of 11-8 with five saves and a 3.88 ERA.

Dec 07 - Jeff Bagwell blasts the front office after pitcher and close friend Darryl Kile agrees to a contract with the Colorado Rockies. Bagwell disputes the numbers the Astros say they offered Kile to stay. General Manager Gerry Hunsicker says he's disappointed with the reaction of his star player.

Dec 09 - Infielder Jack Howell is signed to a free agent deal. In two seasons, Howell bats .254, mostly in pinch-hit duties.

Dec 22 - Reliever John Hudek is traded to the New York Mets for outfielder Carl Everett. The righthander comes from nowhere to make the All-Star team in 1994 but returns to reality, leaving Houston with a 5-7 record and 29 saves over four injury-plagued seasons.

Dec 23 - Houston City Council agrees to issue $234 million dollars in bonds for the construction of a new downtown ballpark.