2002 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History

Jan 31 - Despite a petition drive seeking to honor longtime Astro broadcaster Gene Elston with the Ford C. Frick Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the winner is his former broadcast partner Harry Kalas. Kalas worked six seasons (1965-1970) with Elston before becoming the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films. Kalas' signature call while with Houston was to describe their home runs as "Astro orbits".

Feb 27 - Astros announce they have purchased back the naming rights of their ballpark from Enron for $2.1 million dollars. The 30-year deal signed in 1999 winds up in bankruptcy court after Enron collapses in scandal during the fall of 2001. Tentatively, the park is named Astros Field while a new sponsor is sought.

Mar 01 - Jose Vizcaino begins the Astros spring training schedule with a home run off Omar Daal that sparks a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is the first game for new Astros skipper Jimy Williams.

Mar 12 - Astros deal third baseman Chris Truby to Montreal for infielder Geoff Blum. Since the Expos were purchased by Major League Baseball during the winter and is technically run by them, this makes the first trade by the sport itself on behalf of one of their clubs. Blum would bat .272 with 20 homers during two seasons in Houston.

Mar 14 - Larry Dierker drops in on the Astros spring camp in Kissimmee, FL to smiles and hugs. After 37 years in various capacities with the franchise, the ex-manager says it felt "weird" to not be at spring training.

Mar 29 - Lance Berkman drills two home runs and Roy Oswalt scatters seven hits as Houston tops the Boston Red Sox, 5-1, in an exhibition at the newly-renamed Astros Field. Scrubbed are virtually all signs of Enron, whose naming-rights deal for the ballpark fell into bankruptcy court. The win is also a little sweeter for manager Jimy Williams who was fired by the Sox midway through the 2001 season.

Apr 08 - Craig Biggio becomes the fourth player in franchise history to hit for the cycle in an 8-4 triumph in Colorado. After reaching with a single and a triple his first two times up, Biggio homers off Denny Neagle for two runs then doubles in the eighth off Mike James for two more. Richard Hidalgo and Lance Berkman also go deep.

Apr 16 - Lance Berkman drills three home runs to lead an 8-3 triumph in Cincinnati. Berkman plates five. Richard Hidalgo and Jeff Bagwell also tee off on losing pitcher Jose Acevedo. Berkman gets two chances to tie the NL mark of four homers but comes up short.

May 18 - Jose Vizcaino slams a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to drop the Pirates, 2-1. Octavio Dotel gets the win after Tim Redding works seven solid innings. The victory pulls the Astros back to the .500 mark for the season and into a tie for second place in the Central Division.

Jun 20 - Lance Berkman's grand slam highlights a seven-run fourth as Houston blows past the Brewers, 9-3. Berkman's five RBIs give him 62 on the season to lead the league. Wade Miller gets the victory.

Jun 22 - Stunned by the death of ex-teammate Darryl Kile, Astro veterans Craig Biggio, Brad Ausmus and Jeff Bagwell sit out a game against the Seattle Mariners. But all come in to pinch hit as the game moves into extra innings with an emotional Bagwell singling home Julio Lugo with the winning run in the 12th for a 3-2 victory. Daryle Ward plates the other two runs. Ricky Stone wins in relief.

Jun 27 - Pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun blasts a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth off Byung-Hyun Kim to stun the Diamondbacks, 7-4. Octavio Dotel is the surprise winner. Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus also go deep.

Jul 06 - Daryle Ward becomes the first player to smash a home run into the Allegheny River as Houston bombs the Pirates, 10-2, at PNC Park. It's a grand slam too. Lance Berkman and Jeff Bagwell tag back-to-back shots. Nelson Cruz wins with six shutout innings.

Aug 17 - Jose Vizcaino smacks a leadoff homer on his way to a 5-for-5 night during a 6-1 victory in Cincinnati. Roy Oswalt wins his 15th but must wait until the ninth when Houston explodes for five runs to get the victory. They remain four games behind St. Louis in the Central Division chase.

Sep 08 - Craig Biggio, Brian Hunter and Lance Berkman launch homers in a 6-2 victory in Los Angeles. Roy Oswalt wins his 19th of the year. The suddenly dangerous Hunter knocks out Dodger hurler Kazuhisa Ishii with a line drive double off the pitcher's head. Ishii suffers a concussion and a small skull fracture. Back in Houston, few notice since the NFL expansion Houston Texans are shocking the Dallas Cowboys, 19-10, in their very first regular season game.

Sep 12 - Jose Vizcaino blasts a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth to drop the Cardinals, 6-3. Craig Biggio's solo shot earlier in the inning ties it. The Astros trail by 5-1/2 games both for the Central Division lead and the Wild Card.

Nov 22 - Outfielder Richard Hidalgo is shot in the left arm during an attempted carjacking in his native Venezuela. Thankfully, his wounds are completely healed by the start of the season and it does not interrupt his career.

Dec 16 - Astros deal reliever Nelson Cruz to the Colorado Rockies for minor league outfielder Victor Hall. Cruz, who became disguntled with manager Jimy Williams, had fashioned a 5-9 record in 109 games over two seasons in Houston. Hall returns to Arizona, where the Rule V draftee was claimed, after spring training.

Dec 18 - Infielder Jeff Kent signs a two-year $18 million dollar contract with Houston. The former MVP, it is announced, will replace Craig Biggio at second base with Biggio set to move to an outfield spot after a decade at second for the Astros.