Astros in the Sky
Born: Feb 12, 1945
Don Wilson was a flamethrowing righthander from Louisiana who signed with the Colt .45s as a 19-year-old in 1964. He blazed through the club's farm system and so impressed the team that he was called up for a start at the end of the 1966 season and went six innings to win his big league debut. Wilson made the Astros' roster in 1967 and posted the first of eight consecutive seasons with ten or more wins. Along the way, Wilson went on to craft some of the most incredible pitching gems in team history.
He no-hit the Braves in June of his rookie season. In 1968, he tied the major league record with 18 strikeouts in a game. In 1969, he tossed the second no-hitter of his career. In 1971, he was an All-Star. In 1974, he missed his third career no-hitter when he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after eight no-hit innings! But it all came to a tragic and sudden end on January 5, 1975, when Wilson died accidentally from carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 29 in an incident that also killed his young son, Alexander. The team retired Don's #40 jersey on Opening Day of 1975.
When his nine-year career ended, "Big D" had compiled a 104-92 record with 20 shutouts, two saves and a 3.15 ERA. During the expansion era of the franchise, Don Wilson was one of the brighter lights in the organization. It can only be speculated what sort of heights he might have achieved if he'd been given a full career to work his magic.