2009 - Timeline
from This Date in Astros History
Jan 09 - Lefthander Dave Roberts dies of lung cancer in Morgantown, WV at age 64. Roberts pitched for four seasons (1972-1975) with the Astros as part of a 13-year big league career. His best season with Houston is 1973 when he tosses a 17-11 record with a 2.85 ERA.
Jan 13 - Preston Gomez, the Astros' first minority manager, dies in Fullerton, CA at age 85. The Cuban native had been in failing health since being hit by a pickup truck while walking across the street nine months before. Gomez spent less than two years at the helm of the Astros, leading them to an 81-81 record in 1974 and a 47-80 record in 1975 before he was replaced by Bill Virdon. Gomez also managed the Padres and Cubs then served over 20 years as an assistant with the Angels.
Feb 11 - Miguel Tejada pleads guilty in Washington D.C. to lying to congressional investigators about performance enhancing drugs. He claims he also purchased but did not use human growth hormone which he bought from former Oakland teammate Adam Piatt. He is later sentenced to one year probation, 100 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
Feb 16 - Routine physicals at the beginning of spring training sometimes reveal the unexpected. Returning pitcher Mike Hampton is told he has an irregular heartbeat and is sent back to Houston for tests and a minor procedure. Doctors then determine no procedure was necessary and fly him back to Florida the next day.
Feb 25 - Third base prospect Chris Johnson mashes a home run estimated at up to 600 feet in the 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals that opens the spring schedule. Reclamation projects Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz get off to good starts, each tossing a pair of shutout innings. It will be three weeks before they win another Grapefruit League game.
Mar 18 - Infielder Aaron Boone, a free agent signed in December, announces he will have aortic heart surgery and forgo the season. Boone is best known for his home run that decided the 2003 A.L.C.S. for the Yankees over the Red Sox. He was expected to platoon at third base. Successful surgery is performed eight days later. He returns in September but goes hitless in 13 attempts.
Mar 20 - After winning their first spring game of the year, the Astros fail to win their next 19 Grapefruit League contests until beating the Reds, 4-2, behind six shutout innings from Russ Ortiz. It comes the same day that the Astros sign catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez to a one-year deal. The 37-year-old Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star with 13 Gold Gloves and fills a need as none of the other catchers in camp were hitting above .200 in spring action.
May 13 - Every person in the Astros' starting lineup, including pitcher Mike Hampton, has a multi-hit game in the 15-11 victory over Colorado at Coors Field. Lance Berkman leads the 24-hit attack (one shy of the club record) with a 4-for-4 night. Miguel Tejada adds three hits while Geoff Blum drives in five. Houston scores all their runs without the benefit of a homer.
May 17 - Ivan Rodriguez belts the 300th homer of his career in a 6-5 victory at Chicago. Wrigley fans toss back the momento, much to the catcher's delight. Chris Sampson picks up his first career save but does so only after allowing two runs in the ninth and needing Jeff Keppinger to catch a screaming liner with two men on for the final out. Sampson was pressed into service after three Houston relievers had been sent to the Disabled List and a fourth was dinged up the day before.
Jun 13 - Minutes after Miguel Tejada strokes his 2,000th career hit to drive in a run, Lance Berkman launches his 300th career homer to pace a 6-4 win at Arizona. After seven strong innings by Roy Oswalt, Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins work their way out of jams to preserve the win. The Astros are last in the division with a 28-32 record but are just five games out of first.
Jun 17 - Ivan Rodriguez sets the record for most games caught in a big league career (2,227) but he commits two errors that help the Rangers outlast Houston, 5-4, in ten innings. Hunter Pence notches four hits including two doubles and a solo homer.
Jul 02 - A 7-2 Astros victory in San Diego is delayed 52 minutes in the top of the ninth when a swarm of bees moves into left field and begins nesting in the jacket of the ballgirl. A local bee expert is brought in to kill and capture the queen and her nest, dispersing the others. "Killer B's" Geoff Blum, Lance Berkman and Michael Bourn delivered six hits, six runs and six RBIs between them.
Jul 22 - Houston stuns closer Ryan Franklin with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to clip the Cardinals, 4-3, and sweep the three-game series from the division leaders. The Astros move within a game of first. Miguel Tejada strokes the game-winner after Chris Coste failed twice to lay down a bunt then spanked an RBI double to center. Jose Valverde wins in relief.
Aug 12 - Hunter Pence launches a pair of three-run homers to pace a 14-6 thrashing of the Marlins. Lance Berkman comes off the disabled list to drill a pair of RBI doubles. Carlos Lee adds three hits and three RBIs. Rookie Bud Norris lasts five inning to up his record to 3-0 since a midseason call-up.
Aug 15 - Kazuo Matsui beats out an infield single in Milwaukee for his 2,000th career hit combined from his career as a star shortstop in the Japanese majors as well as his six years in the National League. Play is stopped as Japanese officials recognize Matsui's automatic induction into Japan's Meikyukai, similar to our Hall of Fame. The event gets live television coverage back in his homeland. The Astros, however, fall in a 6-2 defeat.
Sep 21 - Cecil Cooper is fired with 13 games left in the season. His 70-79 record leaves him one game over .500 for his tenure with Houston (171-170). Dave Clark is named interim manager but it doesn't help the first night as the Astros lose to St. Louis, 7-3, for their eighth consecutive defeat. Houston ends the year with a 74-88 mark, finishing fifth in the division for the first time since the three-division format began in 1994.
Oct 27 - Brad Mills is hired as the new Astros manager, signing a two-year deal. The former infielder with Montreal posts a 76-86 record in his rookie season as a major league skipper.
Nov 11 - Michael Bourn wins the Gold Glove Award for National League outfielders. The Houston-born speedster is the first Houston outfielder to win the award since Cesar Cedeno in 1976.
Dec 24 - Stan Benjamin, a scout who joined the Astros in 1965 and stayed for almost 40 years, passes away on Cape Cod, MA at the age of 95.