Bill Virdon - Timeline
This Date in Astros History
Apr 25 1965 - Joe Morgan singles home Bob Aspromonte in the 11th inning for a 5-4 triumph over Pittsburgh. It's the first day game at the Astrodome after the ceiling tiles had been painted to reduce the glare. Pirate outfielder Bill Virdon couldn't use it as an excuse when Jim Wynn scores on his three-base error. Umpire Vinnie Smith couldn't use it as an excuse when he overturns his own home-run call on Walt Bond's drive off the fence.
Aug 19 1975 - Bill Virdon replaces Preston Gomez as Houston manager. Bob Lillis fills out the lineup card while Virdon settles in. The Mets topple the Astros, 6-3, but not before Cliff Johnson and Cesar Cedeno go deep in the ninth inning to show the team still has some life.
Oct 02 1976 - J.R. Richard becomes Houston's second 20-game winner and he does it impressively, a 13-strikeout complete game 10-1 thrashing of the Giants. Richard add three hits at the plate, including a home run, and drives in three. It wraps up an 80-82 season, a 15-1/2 game improvement in Bill Virdon's first full year at the helm.
Nov 23 1976 - Pitcher Larry Dierker and infielder Jerry DaVanon are traded to St.Louis for catcher Joe Ferguson. For Dierker, it's the beginning of the end of a stellar career. For Ferguson, it means another chance to be a starting catcher instead of an oufielder. He argues with manager Bill Virdon about blocking the plate but hits .243 with 23 homers and 83 RBIs in 1-1/2 seasons before being traded again.
May 03 1980 - Bill Virdon picks up his 356th win as a Houston manager, setting a team record, as the Astros edge St. Louis, 4-2. Vern Ruhle is the hero, going 8-2/3rds innings for the win, producing two hits and driving in a run. Terry Puhl and Jose Cruz supply two hits apiece. Joe Sambito nails the final out for the save.
Jun 09 1980 - Dave Kingman of the Cubs launches an air ball from left field during a 6-2 loss in Houston. Fielding a single off Alan Ashby, Kingman's throw to the plate lands in the Chicago dugout on the third-base side on the fly. Ken Forsch finishes the scoring by singling home Ashby from third en route to the victory. The win is a nice 49th birthday gift for Astros skipper Bill Virdon.
Aug 10 1982 - Bill Virdon is fired as manager. Bob Lillis replaces him, becoming the first ex-Astro to skipper the team. Virdon leaves as Houston's winningest manager (544-522). Lillis' debut is a 4-1 victory over San Diego. Phil Garner's three-run homer is the difference.
Oct 18 2001 - Larry Dierker resigns as manager, ending a five-year run that can be argued as the most successful in team history. His winning percentage (.553) is tops for the franchise. His 448 wins rank second to Bill Virdon. The good news was four division crowns in five years. The bad news was a 2-12 post-season record, failing to escape out of the first round of the playoffs each year. But the numbers don't begin to capture Dierker's story, one as unique as the Hawaiian-shirted lanky Californian that has spent practically his entire adulthood with the franchise.