Astros in the Sky
by Darrell Pittman

Last updated: April 17, 2014

Houston's baseball club is, by MLB standards, a very young one. Over the years, the franchise has lost a number of players, including the tragic deaths of Jim Umbricht in 1963 of cancer, and Don Wilson in 1975 of carbon monoxide poisoning. Both were active players at the time of their deaths, and their numbers were later retired by the club.

This page is dedicated to the memory of all former Colt .45s and Astros players who have since passed on. For obituaries on former Astros managers, visit the All-Time Managers page.

You can view the player details in the chronological order of their passing, or select alphabetically from the following:

A-C

Tommie Agee, John Anderson, Rafael Batista, John Bateman, Jim Beauchamp, Bo Belinsky, Curt Blefary, Walt Bond, Pidge Browne, George Brunet, Don Buddin, Jim Busby, John Buzhardt, Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Al Cicotte, Willie Crawford, Mike Cuellar

D-L

Jay Dahl, Ron Davis, Dick Drott, Keith Drumright, Arnold Earley, Dick "Turk" Farrell, Bob Forsch, Nellie Fox, Gene Freese, Gary Geiger, Billy Goodman, Howie Goss, Julio Gotay, Grady Hatton, Al Heist, Bill Henry, Ed Herrmann, Joe Hoerner, John Hoffman, Gordon Jones, Darryl Kile, Jack Lamabe, Norm Larker, Jose Lima, Aurelio Lopez

M-R

Marty Martinez, Eddie Mathews, Lee Maye, Don McMahon, Aurelio Monteagudo, Ivan Murrell, Joe Niekro, Don Nottebart, Jim Obradovich, Dan Osinski, Jim Pendleton, Brian Powell, Merritt Ranew, Howie Reed, Dave A. Roberts, Robin Roberts, Jeriome Robertson, Vern Ruhle, Pete Runnels

S-Z

Jay Schlueter, Carroll Sembera, Larry Sherry, Mark Small, Dave Smith, Jose Sosa, Jimmy Stewart, Johnny Temple, Bobby Tiefenauer, Gus Triandos, Jim Umbricht, Cecil Upshaw, Jose Uribe, Glenn Vaughan, Bruce Von Hoff, Johnny Weekly, George Williams, Ron Willis, Don Wilson, George Witt, Hal Woodeshick, Chris Zachary


(c) Houston Astros
Jim Umbricht
Full name: James Umbricht
Nickname: "Big Jim"
Born: 9/17/30, Chicago, IL
Died: 4/8/64, Houston, TX; cancer
Career: PIT (1959-61), HOU (1962-63)
Jersey retired: #32, 4/12/65
Notes:
  • First jersey number to be retired by Houston
  • His ashes were spread over the Astrodome construction site by his brother Ed from a private airplane as his parents and teammates looked on.


(c) Houston Astros
Jay Dahl
Full name: Jay Steven Dahl
Born: 12/6/45, San Bernadino, CA
Died: 6/20/65, Salisbury, NC; auto accident
Career: HOU (1963)
Notes: Starting pitcher for Colt .45s "All-Rookie Team" against the Mets, 9/27/63.


(c) Topps Baseball
Walt Bond
Full name: Walter Franklin Bond
Born: 10/19/37, Denmark, TN
Died: 9/14/67, Houston, TX; leukemia
Career: CLE (1960-62), HOU (1964-65), MIN (1967)
Notes:
  • One of the last alums of the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs.
  • His 85 RBIs in 1964 were most of any Colt .45 in one season.


(c) Houston Astros
Johnny Weekly
Full name: Johnny Weekly
Born: 6/14/37, Waterproof, LA
Died: 11/24/74, Walnut Creek, CA; auto accident
Career: HOU (1962-64)


(c) Topps Baseball
Don Wilson
Full name: Donald Edward Wilson
Born: 2/12/45, Monroe, LA
Died: 1/5/75, Houston, TX; carbon monoxide poisoning
Career: HOU (1966-74)
All-Star: 1971
Jersey retired: #40, 4/13/75
Notes:
  • On 6/18/67, pitched a 2-0 no-hitter over the Braves in Houston.
  • On 5/1/69, pitched a 4-0 no-hitter over the Reds in Cincinnati.


(c) Houston Astros
Nellie Fox
Full name: Jacob Nelson Fox
Nickname: "Mighty Mite", "Little Nel"
Born: 12/25/27, St. Thomas, PA
Died: 12/1/75, Baltimore, MD; skin cancer
Career: PHI-A (1947-49), CHW (1950-63), HOU (1964-65)
All-Star: 1951-61, 1963
Hall of Fame: Inducted 1997, Veterans Committee
Notes:
  • Brought to Houston to mentor second-baseman Joe Morgan. Stayed on as a coach, 1965-67.
  • Got the game-winning hit in the first game at the Astrodome, 4/9/65.
  • 1959 World Series MVP for "Go-Go" Chicago White Sox.


(c) Topps Baseball
Dick Farrell
Full name: Richard Joseph Farrell
Nickname: "Turk"
Born: 4/8/34, Boston, MA
Died: 6/10/77, Great Yarmouth, England; auto accident
Career: PHI (1956-61), LAD (1961), HOU (1962-67), PHI (1967-69)
All-Star: 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965
Notes:
  • Houston's first All Star.
  • Famous for his practical jokes. Once sneaked a baby alligator into the whirlpool in the Colt .45s' clubhouse.


(c) Topps Baseball
Ron Willis
Full name: Ronald Earl Willis
Born: 7/12/43, Willisville, TN
Died: 11/21/77, Memphis, TN; brain tumor
Career: STL (1966-69), HOU (1969), SD (1970)


(c) Houston Astros
Al Cicotte
Full name: Alva Warren Cicotte
Nicknames: "Bozo", because of the brand of ice cream he favored.
"Count Dracula", because he favored black suits, often with a cape.
Born: 12/23/29, Melvindale, MI
Died: 11/29/82, Westland, MI; cause not reported
Career: NYY (1957), WAS (1958), DET (1958), CLE (1959), STL (1961), HOU (1962)
Notes: Great-nephew of Eddie Cicotte, who was banned from baseball in the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal.


(c) Topps Baseball
Billy Goodman
Full name: William Dale Goodman
Born: 3/22/26, Concord, NC
Died: 10/1/84, Sarasota, FL; cancer
Career: BOS (1947-57), BAL (1957), CHW (1958-61), HOU (1962)
All-Star: 1949, 1953
Notes:
  • 1950 AL batting champion
  • Played five games in the World Series for the 1959 Chicago White Sox against the Los Angeles Dodgers


(c) Topps Baseball
Howie Reed
Full name: Howard Dean Reed
Nickname: "Diz"
Born: 12/21/36, Dallas, TX
Died: 12/7/84, Corpus Christi, TX; cause not reported
Career: KC (1958-60), LA (1964-66), CAL (1966), HOU (1967), MON (1969-71)
Notes: Member of 1965 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.


(c) Houston Astros
Dick Drott
Full name: Richard Fred Drott
Nickname: "Hummer"
Born: 7/1/36, Cincinnati, OH
Died: 8/16/85, Glendale Heights, IL; stomach cancer
Career: CHC (1957-61), HOU (1962-63)
Notes: Lost a 1-0 no-hitter to Juan Marichal on June 15, 1963 despite tossing a three-hitter himself.


(c) Houston Astros
Don McMahon
Full name: Donald John McMahon
Born: 1/4/30, Brooklyn, NY
Died: 7/22/87, Los Angeles, CA; heart attack
Career: MIL-N (1957-62), HOU (1962-64), CLE (1964-66), BOS (1966-67), CHW (1967-68), DET (1968-69), SF (1969-74)
All-Star: 1958


(c) Houston Astros
Aurelio Monteagudo
Full name: Aurelio Faustino Monteagudo Cintra
Nickname: "Monty"
Born: 11/19/43, Caribarien, Cuba
Died: 11/10/90, Saltillo, Mexico; auto accident
Career: KC (1963-66), HOU (1966), CHW (1967), KC (1970), CAL (1973)
Notes: Son of major-leaguer Rene Monteagudo.


(c) Houston Astros
Pete Runnels
Full name: James Edward Runnels (b. James Edward Runnells)
Born: 1/28/28, Lufkin, TX
Died: 5/20/91, Pasadena, TX; stroke
Career: WAS (1951-57), BOS (1958-62), HOU (1963-64)
All-Star: 1959, 1960, 1962
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
George Brunet
Full name: George Stuart Brunet
Nickname: "Lefty"
Born: 6/8/35, Houghton, MI
Died: 10/25/91, Poza Rica, Mexico; heart attack
Career: KC (1956-60), MIL-N (1960-61), HOU (1962-63), BAL (1963), CAL (1965-69), SEA (1969), WAS (1970), PIT (1970), STL (1971)
Notes: Played minor league ball in the Mexican League into his fifties.


(c) Topps Baseball
Ron Davis
Full name: Ronald Everette Davis
Born: 10/21/41, Roanoke Rapids, NC
Died: 9/5/92, Houston, TX; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1962, 1966-68), STL (1968), PIT (1969)
Notes: Appeared in two games for Cardinals in 1968 World Series.


(c) Houston Astros
Aurelio Lopez
Full name: Aurelio Alejandro Lopez Rios
Nickname: Señor Smoke
Born: 9/21/48, Tecamachalco, Mexico
Died: 9/22/92, Matehuala, Mexico; auto accident
Career: KC (1974), STL (1978), DET (1979-85), HOU (1986-87)
All-Star: 1974, 1983
Notes:
  • Member of 1986 NL West Division champs.
  • Member of 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers


(c) Houston Astros
Johnny Temple
Full name: John Ellis Temple
Born: 8/8/27, Lexington, NC
Died: 1/9/94, Anderson, SC; pancreatitis
Career: CIN (1952-59), CLE (1960-61), BAL (1962), HOU (1962-63), CIN (1964)
All-Star: 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961
Notes:
  • Part of baseball's first inter-league trade (in 1960 from Cincinnati to Cleveland for Billy Martin and Cal McLish).
  • Sports anchor for KHOU-TV in Houston after his retirement.


(c) Houston Astros
Gordon Jones
Full name: Gordon Bassett Jones
Born:4/2/30, Portland, OR
Died: 4/25/94, Lodi, CA; cause not reported
Career: STL (1954-56), NYG/SF (1957-59), BAL (1960-61), KC (1962), HOU (1964-65)
Notes: Astros pitching coach, 1966-67.


(c) Houston Astros
Cecil Upshaw
Full name: Cecil Lee Upshaw
Born: 10/22/42, Spearnsville, LA
Died: 2/7/95, Lawrenceville, GA; heart attack
Career: ATL (1966-73), HOU (1973), CLE (1974), NYY (1974), CHW (1975)
Notes: Pitched three games in 1969 NLCS.


(c) Houston Astros
Jim Pendleton
Full name: James Edward Pendleton
Nickname: "The Guv'nor"
Born: 1/7/24, St. Charles, MO
Died: 3/20/96, Houston, TX; heart attack
Career: MIL-N (1953-56); PIT (1957-58); CIN (1959); HOU (1962)
Notes: Starting left fielder in Houston franchise's first game, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.


(c) Houston Astros
Gary Geiger
Full name: Gary Merle Geiger
Born: 4/4/37, Sand Ridge, IL
Died: 4/24/96, Murphysboro, IL; liver failure
Career: CLE (1958), BOS (1959-65), ATL (1966-67), HOU (1969-70)


(c) Houston Astros
Jim Busby
Full name: James Franklin Busby
Born: 1/8/27, Kennedy, TX
Died: 7/8/96, Augusta, GA; heart attack
Career: CHW (1950-52), WAS (1952-55), CHW (1955), CLE (1956-57), BAL (1957-58), BOS (1959-60), BAL (1960-61), HOU (1962)
All-Star: 1951
Notes: Astros coach, 1962-67. Was player/coach in franchise's first season.


(c) Houston Astros
Howie Goss
Full name: Howard Wayne Goss
Born: 11/1/34, Wewoka, OK
Died: 7/31/96, Reno, NV; cause not reported
Career: PIT (1962), HOU (1963)
Notes:
  • Struck out 128 times in just 442 plate appearances during his only season with the Colts .45s.
  • First Houston player reported to be a health food enthusiast.


(c) Topps Baseball
Joe Hoerner
Full name: Joseph Walter Hoerner
Born: 11/12/36, Dubuque, IA
Died: 10/4/96, Hermann, MO; farming accident
Career: HOU (1963-64), STL (1966-69), PHI (1970-72), ATL (1972-73), KC (1973-74), PHI (1975), TEX (1976), CIN (1977)
All-Star: 1970
Notes: Member of 1967 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.


(c) Topps Baseball
John Bateman
Full name: John Alvin Bateman
Born: 7/21/40, Killeen, TX
Died: 12/3/96, Sand Spring, TX; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1963-68), MON (1969-72), PHI (1972)
Notes:
  • As a rookie, led Colt .45s in home runs (10) and RBIs (59), 1963.
  • Caught Don Nottebart's no-hitter, 5/17/63.


(c) Houston Astros
Pidge Browne
Full name: Prentice Almont Browne
Nickname: "Pidge"
Born: 3/21/29, Peekskill, NY
Died: 6/3/97, Houston, TX; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1962)
Notes:
  • 1955 Texas League MVP for Shreveport Sports.
  • Member of Houston Buffaloes' back-to-back Dixie Series Champions, 1956-57.
  • Only player to play for both the Houston Buffs and Colt .45s.


(c) Topps Baseball
John Anderson
Full name: John Charles Anderson
Born:11/23/32, St. Paul, MN
Died: 12/20/98, Houston, TX; cause not reported
Career: PHI (1958), BAL (1960), STL (1962), HOU (1962)


(c) Mike Bartlett
Arnold Earley
Full name: Arnold Carl Earley
Born: 6/4/33, Lincoln Park, MI
Died: 9/29/99, Flint, MI; cause not reported
Career: BOS (1960-65), CHC (1966), HOU (1967)


(c) Houston Astros
Bobby Tiefenauer
Full name: Bobby Gene Tiefenauer
Born: 10/10/29, Desloge, MO
Died: 6/13/00, Desloge, MO; cause not reported
Career: STL-N (1952, 55), CLE (1960), STL-N (1961), HOU (1962), MIL-N (1963-65), NYM (1965), CLE (1965, 67), CHC (1968)
Notes: Knuckleball pitcher. As a Colt .45, his catcher once used the hurler's glove to make a tag at home plate on a throw from the outfield.


(c) Houston Astros
Andujar Cedeño
Full name: Andujar Cedeño Donastorg
Born: 8/21/69, La Romana, D.R.
Died: 10/28/00, Santo Domingo, D.R.; auto accident
Career: HOU (1990-94), SD (1995-96), DET (1996), HOU (1996)
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
Tommie Agee
Full name: Tommie Lee Agee
Born:8/9/42, Magnolia, AL
Died: 1/22/01, New York, NY; heart attack
Career: CLE (1962-65), CHW (1965-67), NYM (1968-72), HOU (1973), STL (1973)
All-Star: 1966, 1967
Honors: 1966 AL Rookie of the Year
Notes: Hero of the 1969 "Miracle Mets" for his homer in Game 3 of the World Series off Jim Palmer, and two great catches in the outfield.


(c) Houston Astros
Curt Blefary
Full name: Curtis LeRoy Blefary
Nickname: "Clank", because of his poor fielding.
Born: 7/5/43, Brooklyn, NY
Died: 1/28/01, Pompano Beach, FL; pancreatitis
Career: BAL (1965-68), HOU (1969), NYY (1970-71), OAK (1971-72), SD (1972)
Honors: 1965 AL Rookie of the Year
Notes:
  • Member of 1966 World Champion Baltimore Orioles.
  • Caught Tom Phoebus' 4/27/68 no-hitter for Orioles.
  • Set record getting put out in seven double plays, 5/4/69.
  • Traded to Houston for Mike Cuellar in one of Houston's All-Time Worst Trades


(c) Houston Astros
Eddie Mathews
Full name: Edwin Lee Mathews, Jr.
Born: 10/13/31, Texarkana, TX
Died: 2/18/01, La Jolla, CA; pneumonia
Career: BOS-N (1952), MIL-N (1953-65), ATL (1966), HOU (1967), DET (1967-68)
All-Star: 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962
Hall of Fame: Inducted 1978
Notes:
  • Only player to play for Braves in all three cities: Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.
  • Hit 500th career homer while a member of the Astros, 7/14/67.
  • Member of World Champion 1957 Milwaukee Braves and 1968 Detroit Tigers.


(c) Houston Astros
Bo Belinsky
Full name: Robert Belinsky
Nickname: "Bo"
Born: 12/7/36, New York, NY
Died: 11/23/01, Las Vegas, NV; heart attack
Career: LAA (1962-65), PHI (1965-66), HOU (1967), PIT (1969), CIN (1970)
Notes:
  • Tossed a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels against Baltimore, the first no-hitter on the West Coast in MLB history, 5/5/62.
  • Married and divorced Playboy Playmate of the Year Jo Collins then married paper heiress Jane Weyerhauser.
  • Astros paired him with Mormon catcher Ron Brand on road trips to try to curtail his nightlife.


(c) Houston Astros
John Hoffman
Full name: John Edward Hoffman
Nickname: "Pork Chop"
Born: 10/31/43, Aberdeen, SD
Died: 12/27/01, Seattle, WA; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1964-65)
Notes: Backup catcher appeared in eight games with Houston, going 3-for-21 for his career.


(c) Houston Astros
Darryl Kile
Full name: Darryl Andrew Kile
Nickname: "DK"
Born: 12/2/68, Garden Grove, CA
Died: 6/22/02, Chicago, IL; coronary artery blockage due to athereosclerosis
Career:  HOU (1991-97), COL (1998-99), STL (2000-02)
All-Star: 1993, 1997, 2000
Notes:
  • Pitched no-hitter against Mets, 9/8/93.
  • Went 19-7 with 2.57 ERA for 1997 Astros.
  • Died four days after death of Cardinals' announcer Jack Buck.


(c) Houston Astros
Lee Maye
Full name: Arthur Lee Maye
Born: 12/11/34, Tuscaloosa, AL
Died: 7/17/02, Riverside, CA; complications from liver cancer
Career: MIL-N (1959-65), HOU (1965-66), CLE (1967-69), WAS (1969-70), CHW (1970-71)
Notes:
  • Died on the 43rd anniversary of his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Braves (7/17/59).
  • AstrosDaily interview, 7/16/01.
  • Had a successful R&B recording/singing career, leading "Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns" and used to sing at the "Dome Shadows" nightclub across the street from the Astrodome.


(c) Houston Astros
Chris Zachary
Full name: William Christopher Zachary
Born: 2/19/44, Knoxville, TN
Died: 4/19/03, Knoxville, TN; bone marrow cancer
Career: HOU (1963-67), KC (1969), STL (1971), DET (1972), PIT (1973)
Notes:
  • Once described himself as "a pretty decent 10th-man on a 10-man staff."
  • Inducted into Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.


(c) Houston Astros
Willie Crawford
Full name: Willie Murphy Crawford
Born: 9/7/46, Los Angeles, CA
Died: 8/27/04, Knoxville, TN; kidney disease
Career: LAD (1964-75), STL (1976), HOU (1977), OAK (1977)
Notes:
  • Made his major league debut nine days after his 18th birthday, 9/16/64.
  • Member of 1965 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.


(c) Houston Astros
Ken Caminiti
Full name: Kenneth Gene Caminiti
Born: 4/21/63, Hanford, CA
Died: 10/10/04, Bronx, NY; heart attack
Career: HOU (1987-94), SD (1995-98), HOU (1999-2000), TEX (2001), ATL (2001)
All-Star: 1994, 1996, 1997
Honors: 1996 National League MVP
Notes:
  • Slugged three homers in 1999 NLDS.
  • Struggled with alcohol and drug addiction; admitted to using steroids during his MVP season with the Padres.


(c) Houston Astros
Glenn Vaughan
Full name: Glenn Edward Vaughan
Nickname: "Sparky"
Born: 2/16/44, Compton, CA
Died: 12/18/04, Houston, TX; natural causes
Career: HOU (1963)
Notes:
  • Starting third baseman in the All-Rookie Game, 9/27/63.
  • Nephew of Hall-of-Famer Arky Vaughan.
  • Ran a successful insurance business in Houston following his retirement from baseball.


(c) Topps Baseball
Carroll Sembera
Full name: Carroll William Sembera
Nicknames: "Pencil", "The Hat"
Born: 7/26/41, Shiner, TX
Died: 6/15/05, Shiner, TX; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1965-67), MON (1969-70)
Notes:
  • Served as a scout for the Seattle Mariners.
  • Pitched exactly 100 innings as an Astro, with a 3-9 record.


(c) Houston Astros
Al Heist
Full name: Alfred Michael Heist
Born: 10/5/27, Brooklyn, NY
Died: 10/2/06, Tahlequah, OK; cause not reported
Career: CHC (1960-61) HOU (1962)
Notes:
  • Acquired by Houston in the National League expansion draft after the 1961 season.
  • Appeared in 27 games for the Colt .45s, batting .222 as an outfielder.
  • Coached in the Astros organization in 1966 and 1967. Later coached in the Padres organization.


(c) Houston Astros
Ivan Murrell
Full name: Ivan Augustus Murrell Peters
Nicknames: "Banana Man", "El Toro", "Bull", "Ivan the Terrible"
Born: 4/24/43, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Died: 10/8/06, Stuart, FL; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1963-64, 1967-68), SD (1969-73), ATL (1974)
Notes:
  • Played in Mexican League until 1984.
  • In 1989, played for the St. Lucie Legends of the Senior Professional Baseball Association, hitting .272 with 5 HR over 47 games.
  • Astros Daily interview, 2002.


(c) Topps Baseball
Joe Niekro
Full name: Joseph Franklin Niekro
Nickname: "Knucksie"
Born: 11/7/44, Martins Ferry, OH
Died: 10/27/06, Tampa, FL; brain aneurysm
Career: CHC (1967-69), SD (1969), DET (1970-72), ATL (1973-74), HOU (1975-85), NYY (1985-87), MIN (1987-88)
All-Star: 1979
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
Jose Uribe
Full name: Jose Altagracia Gonzalez Uribe
Born: 1/21/59, San Cristobal, DR
Died: 12/8/06, Juan Baron, DR; auto accident
Career: STL (1984), SF (1985-92), HOU (1993)
All-Star: 1987, 1989
Notes:
  • Fans would chant "OOH-ree-bay" when he would make a good play.
  • Second cousin of Juan Uribe.


(c) Houston Astros
Larry Sherry
Full name: Lawrence Sherry
Born: 7/25/35, Los Angeles, CA
Died: 12/17/06, Mission Viejo, CA; cancer
Career: LAD (1958-63), DET (1964-67), HOU (1967), CAL (1968)
All-Star: 1959
Notes:
  • MVP of 1959 World Series as member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Led Astros in saves in 1967 despite a mid-season trade.
  • Brother of catcher Norm Sherry who was his Dodger teammate, 1959-62.


(c) Topps Baseball
Vern Ruhle
Full name: Vernon Gerald Ruhle
Born: 1/25/51, Coleman, MI
Died: 1/20/07, Houston, TX; complications from stem cell transplant
Career: DET (1974-77), HOU (1978-84), CLE (1985), CAL (1986)
Notes:
  • Took the place of J.R. Richard in Astros' rotation after Richard's stroke and was 7-2, helping them to the 1980 NL West Division title.
  • Astros pitching coach, 1997-2000.


(c) Topps Baseball
Marty Martinez
Full name: Orlando Martinez Oliva
Nickname: "Marty"
Born: 8/23/41, Havana, Cuba
Died: 3/8/07, Santo Domingo, D.R.; cause not reported
Career: MIN (1962), ATL (1967-68), HOU (1969-71), STL (1972), OAK (1972), TEX (1972)
Notes: Versatile reserve who played seven different positions while with Houston, including pitcher and catcher.


(c) Houston Astros
Norm Larker
Full name: Norman Howard John Larker
Nickname: "Dumbo", due to his large ears.
Born: 12/27/30, Beaver Meadows, PA
Died: 3/12/07, Long Beach, CA; cancer
Career: LAD (1958-61), HOU (1962), MIL-N (1963), SF (1963)
All-Star: 1960
Notes:
  • Starting first baseman in Houston franchise's first game, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.
  • Member of 1959 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Batted .323 in 1960, second-best in NL.


(c) Houston Astros
Don Nottebart
Full name: Donald Edward Nottebart
Nickname: "Notty"
Born: 1/23/36, West Newton, MA
Died: 10/4/07, Cypress, TX; complications from a stroke
Career: MIL-N (1960-62), HOU (1963-65), CIN (1966-67), NYY (1969), CHC (1969)
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
Jack Lamabe
Full name: John Alexander Lamabe
Born: 10/3/36, Farmingdale, NY
Died: 12/21/07, Baton Rouge, LA; cause not reported
Career: PIT (1962), BOS (1963-1965) HOU (1965), CHW (1966-67), NYM (1967), STL (1967), CHC (1968)
Notes:
  • Dealt to Houston from the Red Sox 9/65 and traded to the White Sox 12/65.
  • Appeared in three games for the 1965 Astros, losing two of them.


(c) Houston Astros
Jim Beauchamp
Full name: James Edward Beauchamp
Born: 8/21/39, Vinita, OK
Died: 12/25/07, Atlanta, GA; acute myelogenous leukemia
Career: STL (1963), HOU (1964-65), MIL-N (1965), ATL (1967), CIN (1968-69), HOU (1970), STL (1970-71), NYM (1972-73)
Notes:
  • Starting left fielder in first National League game at the Astrodome, 4/12/65.
  • Only player to wear an Atlanta uniform at Ponce de Leon Ballpark (as an Atlanta Cracker), Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and Turner Field.
  • Astros Daily interview, 9/7/01.


(c) Houston Astros
John Buzhardt
Full name: John William Buzhardt
Born: 8/17/36, Prosperity, SC
Died: 6/15/08, Prosperity, SC; complications from a stroke
Career: CHC (1958-59), PHI (1960-61), CHW (1962-67), BAL (1967), HOU (1967-68)
Notes: Earned 4-4 record with 5 saves with Astros in 1968.


(c) Topps Baseball
Julio Gotay
Full name: Julio Enrique Gotay Sanchez
Born: 6/9/39, Fajardo, PR
Died: 7/4/08, Ponce, PR; respiratory failure
Career: STL (1960-62), PIT (1963-64), CAL (1965), HOU (1966-69)
Notes:
  • Hit .264 with three homers as utility infielder for Astros.
  • Accused by teammates of practising voodoo.
  • Roommate of Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente on road trips until Clemente pleaded with the Pirates to switch.
  • Once broke up a double play when a sandwich he kept in his back pocket fell out as he was sliding, causing the opposing shortstop to slip on it.


(c) Houston Astros
Rafael Batista
Full name: Rafael Batista Sanchez
Nickname: "El Gallo"
Born: 10/20/47, San Pedro de Macoris, DR
Died: 10/25/08, Santo Domingo, DR; thrombosis
Career: HOU (1973, 1975)
Notes:
  • As a reserve first baseman, hit .280 in two short stints with Houston.
  • Also played for Lotte Orions (Japan) and Cafetoros de Cordoba (Mexico).


(c) Houston Astros
Dave Smith
Full name: David Stanley Smith
Nickname: "Smitty"
Born: 1/21/55, Richmond, CA
Died: 12/17/08, Carmel Valley, CA; heart attack
Career: HOU (1980-90), CHC (1991-92)
All-Star: 1986, 1990
Notes:
  • Held franchise record for saves (199) until broken by Billy Wagner in 2003.
  • Member of 1980 and 1986 NL West Division Champions.
  • Allowed walk-off homer in Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS.


(c) Houston Astros
Dave A. Roberts
Full name: David Arthur Roberts
Born: 9/11/44, Gallipolis, OH
Died: 1/9/09, Morgantown, WV; lung cancer
Career: SD (1969-71), HOU (1972-75), DET (1976-77), CHC (1977-78), SF (1979), PIT (1979-80), SEA (1980), NYM (1981)
Notes:
  • Finished second in NL in ERA in 1971 (2.10).
  • Tossed 11 shutouts in his four years with the Astros.
  • Hurled one-hitter over the Phillies in the fastest game in franchise history (1 hr. 26 mins), 8/24/74.


(c) Houston Astros
George Williams
Full name: George Williams
Born: 10/23/39, Detroit, MI
Died: 5/14/09, lung cancer
Career: PHI (1961), HOU (1962), KC-A (1964)
Notes:
  • As a reserve second baseman, appeared in five games for expansion Colt .45s.
  • Was acquired in the 1961 expansion draft from Philadelphia.


(c) Houston Astros
Hal Woodeshick
Full name: Harold Joseph Woodeshick
Nickname: "Woody"
Born: 8/24/32, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Died: 6/14/09, Houston, TX; cause not reported
Career: DET (1956), CLE (1958), WSH (1959-61), DET (1961), HOU (1962-65), STL (1965-67)
All-Star: 1963
Notes:
  • Member of the 1961 expansion Washington Senators and the 1962 expansion Houston Colt .45s.
  • Led National League in saves in 1964 with 23.
  • Pitched one inning of 1967 World Series as member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • AstrosDaily.com article: The colorful Hal Woodeshick


(c) Houston Astros
Brian Powell
Full name: Brian Powell
Born: 10/10/73, Bainbridge, GA
Died: 10/5/09, Tallahassee, FL; suicide
Career: DET (1998), HOU (2000-01), DET (2002), SF (2003), PHI (2004)
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
Mike Cuellar
Full name: Miguel Angel Cuéllar Santana
Nickname: "Crazy Horse"
Born: 5/8/37, Las Villas, Cuba
Died: 4/2/10, Orlando, FL; stomach cancer
Career: CIN (1959), STL (1964), HOU (1965-68), BAL (1969-76), CAL (1977)
All-Star: 1967, 1970, 1971, 1974
Honors: 1969 American League Cy Young Award (tied with Denny McLain)
Notes:
  • Sported 37-36 record and 2.74 ERA with Houston
  • Set Astros record for most season wins by a lefty at 16 in 1967, a mark that stood until 1973
  • Dealt to Baltimore for Curt Blefary in one of Houston's All-Time Worst Trades
  • Pitched in 1969, 1970, and 1971 World Series for Orioles
  • Had four consecutive 20+ win seasons in Baltimore


(c) Houston Astros
Robin Roberts
Full name: Robin Evan Roberts
Born: 9/30/26, Springfield, IL
Died: 5/5/10, Temple Terrace, FL; natural causes
Career: PHI (1948-61), BAL (1962-65), HOU (1965-66), CHC (1966)
All-Star: 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956
Hall of Fame: Inducted 1976
Notes:
  • Career record of 286-245 over 19 seasons; 8-7 as an Astro
  • Topped 20 wins for six straight years with Phillies
  • Pitched a remarkable 305 complete games (38th all time)
  • Lost a 2-1 10-inning heartbreaker to the Yankees in his one World Series appearance, 1950
  • Won two Pitcher of the Year awards (1952, 1955) before the Cy Young Award was created


(c) Houston Astros
Jay Schlueter
Full name: Jay D Schlueter
Born: 7/31/49, Phoenix, AZ
Died: 5/13/10, Phoenix, AZ; complications from ataxia
Career: HOU (1971)
Notes:
  • Appeared in seven games for 1971 Astros, batting .333 at age 21
  • Was a second round choice of the Astros in the 1967 summer draft
  • Was an outfielder in the Astros and Cardinals farm systems


(c) Houston Astros
Jose Lima
Full name: Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima
Nickname: "Lima Time"
Born: 9/30/72, Santiago, DR
Died: 5/23/10, Los Angeles, CA; heart attack
Career: DET (1994-96), HOU (1997-2001), DET (2001-02), KC (2003), LAD (2004), KC (2005), NYM (2006)
All-Star: 1999
Notes:
  • Member of three division champs with Houston (1997-99)
  • Fifth 20-game winner in Astros' history
  • Appeared in three post-seasons with a 2.16 ERA
  • Colorful teammate known for emotional displays on and off the field
  • Recorded salsa music CD at height of his career


(c) Houston Astros
Jeriome Robertson
Full name: Jeriome Paul Robertson
Born: 3/30/77, San Jose, CA
Died: 5/29/10, Exeter, CA; motorcycle accident
Career: HOU (2002-03), CLE (2004)
Notes:
  • Won 15 games with Astros in 2003
  • Finished seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting that season
  • Won only one other game in his big league career (2004)


(c) Houston Astros
Keith Drumright
Full name: Keith Alan Drumright
Born: 10/21/54, Springfield, MO
Died: 8/7/10, Springfield, MO; suicide
Career: HOU (1979), OAK (1981)
Notes:
  • Hit .164 in 17 games for 1979 Astros
  • Batted .291 for Oakland in only other MLB season
  • Was a .301 minor league hitter


(c) Houston Astros
Don Buddin
Full name: Donald Thomas Buddin
Born: 5/5/34, Turbeville, SC
Died: 6/30/11, Greenville, SC; cancer
Career: BOS (1956-61), HOU (1962), DET (1962)
Notes:
  • Opening Day shortstop in inaugural Colt .45 season
  • Hit first grand slam in franchise history
  • Led AL in errors committed by shortstops, 1958 and 1959


(c) Houston Astros
Merritt Ranew
Full name: Merritt Thomas Ranew
Born: 5/10/38, Albany, GA
Died: 10/18/11, Valdosta, GA; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1962), CHI-N (1963-64), MIL-N (1964), CAL (1965), SEA (1969)
Notes:
  • Backup catcher in inaugural Colt .45 season
  • Led Colts in triples (8) that first year
  • Nearly died in 1966 when hit with a bat during a brawl


(c) Houston Astros
Bob Forsch
Full name: Robert Herbert Forsch
Born: 1/13/50, Sacramento, CA
Died: 11/3/11, Tampa, FL; aneurysm
Career: STL (1974-88), HOU (1988-89)
Notes:
  • Younger brother of Astros pitcher Ken Forsch
  • Authored two no-hitters while with St. Louis
  • Carried a .213 career batting average with 12 homers
  • Traded 8/31/88 to Houston for Denny Walling
  • Died the week after throwing the 'first pitch' of Game 7 of the 2011 World Series


(c) Houston Astros
Jim Obradovich
Full name: James Thomas Obradovich
Born:9/13/49, Fort Campbell, KY
Died: 3/3/12, Stanford, KY; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1978)
Notes: Batted .176 in 10 games for Houston.


(c) Houston Astros
Bruce Von Hoff
Full name: Bruce Frederick Von Hoff
Born: 11/17/43, Oakland, CA
Died: 9/11/12, Gulfport, FL; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1965,67)
Notes:
  • Appeared in 13 games for Astros with 0-3 record
  • Pitched no-hitter for Durham Bulls (Carolina) on 8/10/66
  • Drafted by Astros from Giants on 11/30/64


(c) Topps Baseball
Jimmy Stewart
Full name: James Franklin Stewart
Born: 6/11/39, Opelika, AL
Died: 11/24/12, Odessa, FL; cause not reported
Career: CHI-N (1961-67), CHI-A (1967), CIN (1969-71), HOU (1972-73)
Notes:
  • Switch-hitting utility player batted .207 with Houston in 129 games
  • Sent to Astros as part of infamous Joe Morgan trade, 11/19/71
  • Member of Austin Peay University Hall of Fame


(c) Topps Baseball
George Witt
Full name: George Adrian Witt
Nickname: "Red"
Born: 11/9/33, Long Beach, CA
Died: 1/30/13, Laguna Beach, CA; cancer
Career: PIT (1957-61), LA-A (1962), HOU (1962)
Notes:
  • Appeared in 8 games for Colt .45s with 0-2 record
  • Was 9-1 with 1.61 ERA in rookie year with Pirates in 1958
  • Served with the Marines during the Korean War


(c) Baltimore Sun
Gus Triandos
Full name: Gus Triandos
Born: 7/30/30, San Francisco, CA
Died: 3/29/13, San Jose, CA; congestive heart failure
Career: NY-A (1953-54), BAL (1955-62), DET (1963), PHI-N (1964-65), HOU (1965)
All-Star: 1957, 1958, 1959 (two games)
Notes:
  • Hit .181 with two homers for 1965 Astros
  • Caught no-hitters of Hoyt Wilhelm and Jim Bunning.
  • Hit 167 homers in 13-year career


(c) Houston Astros
Grady Hatton
Full name: Grady Edgebert Hatton, Jr.
Born: 10/7/22, Beaumont, TX
Died: 4/11/13, Warren, TX; natural causes
Career: CIN (1946-54), CHW (1954), BOS-A (1954-56), STL-N (1956), BAL (1956)
All-Star: 1952 (did not play)
Notes:


(c) Houston Astros
Jose Sosa
Full name: Jose Ynocencio Sosa
Born: 12/28/52, Santo Domingo, DR
Died: 6/8/13, Santo Domingo, DR; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1975-76)
Notes:
  • Posted 1-3 record and 4.60 ERA in 34 games for Houston
  • Homered in first big league at bat, 7/30/75
  • Cousin to Felipe, Jesus, Matty and Moises Alou


(c) Houston Astros
Gene Freese
Full name: Eugene Lewis Freese
Nickname: Augie
Born:1/8/34, Wheeling, WV
Died: 6/19/13, New Orleans, LA; natural causes
Career: PIT (1955-58, 64-65), STL-N (1958), PHI (1959), CHI-A (1960, 65-66), CIN (1960-63), HOU (1966)
Notes:
  • Hit .254 with 115 homers in 12-year career
  • Member of 1961 NL Champion Cincinnati Reds
  • Batted .091 in 21 games for 1966 Astros


(c) Houston Astros
Dan Osinski
Full name: Daniel Osinski
Nickname: The Silencer
Born: 11/17/33, Chicago, IL
Died: 9/13/13, Sun City, AZ; cause not reported
Career: KC-A (1962), LA-A (1962-64), MIL-N (1965), BOS (1966-67), CHI-A (1969), HOU (1970)
Notes:
  • Member of 1967 AL Champion Boston Red Sox.
  • Among first to be used as a "closer" as the role would be called.
  • Posted 0-1 record and 9.82 ERA for Astros in three games.


(c) Houston Astros
Mark Small
Full name: Mark Allan Small
Nickname: Scoobs
Born: 11/12/67, Portland, OR
Died: 10/22/13, Edmonds, WA; cause not reported
Career: HOU (1996)
Notes:
  • Posted 0-1 record with 5.92 ERA in 16 games for Astros
  • Drafted in 17th round by Astros in 1989
  • Younger brother of Jeff Small, former Cubs top draft pick


(c) Topps Baseball
Ed Herrmann
Full name: Edward Martin Herrmann
Nickname: Hoggy
Born: 8/27/46, San Diego, CA
Died: 12/22/13, San Diego, CA; prostate cancer
Career: CHI-A (1967-74), NY-A (1975), CAL (1976), HOU (1976-78), MON (1978)
All-Star: 1974
Notes:
  • Hit .227 with four homers while with Astros
  • Caught Larry Dierker's no-hitter, July 9, 1976
  • Active as baseball coach, motorcycle enthusiast and Christian minister after retirement


(c) Topps Baseball
Bill Henry
Full name: William Rodman Henry
Nickname: "Gabby", for his terseness
Born: 10/15/27, Alice, TX
Died: 4/11/14, Round Rock, TX; heart attack
Career: BOS-A (1952-55), CHC (1958-59), CIN (1960-65), SF (1965-68), PIT (1968), HOU (1969)
All-Star: 1960
Notes:
  • Pitched in two games in the 1961 World Series for the Reds.
  • Had a 0.00 ERA in three relief appearances for Houston in 1969.
  • Reported dead by the media in 2007 until someone called his "widow" in Texas and discovered that he was alive. The dead man in Florida was an imposter that had been using Henry's identity for decades.

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