There's never been a better time to be an Astros fan, and this lively, detailed book explores the personalities, events, and facts every fan should know. Whether you're a die-hard booster from the days of the Colt .45’s or a new supporter of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, these are the 100 things all fans need to know and do in their lifetime. It contains every essential piece of Astros knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them all from 1 to 100, providing an entertaining and easy-to-follow checklist as you progress on your way to fan superstardom.
This World Series edition has been updated to include the team's 2017 championship season as well as a new generation of stars, including Altuve, Correa, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and more.
About the Author
Brian McTaggart has covered the Houston Astros since 2004 and is the current Astros beat writer for MLB.com. He is a graduate of the University of Houston. Follow him on Twitter at @brianmctaggart. A 2015 Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio was a seven-time All-Star. He resides in Houston, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
He's one of the most important historical figures in the history of Houston and one of the men responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston. Roy Hofheinz, known as "the Judge," left an unforgettable imprint on the city's political and sports landscape. He graduated from the University of Houston law school at 19, was a member of the Texas Legislature at 22, and served as a Harris County judge at 24. Hofheinz later became a popular and, at times, controversial young mayor to a city on the rise during a colorful tenure, in which he helped Houston thrive and become a progressive community, while also having a profound, positive impact on civil rights.
Perhaps his biggest contribution to the city of Houston was the acquisition of the first National League franchise in the southern United States. Hofheinz, his partner R.E. "Bob" Smith, and several other influential figures brought big league baseball to Houston and laid out plans for what would soon become the Astrodome. Known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the first air-conditioned domed stadium changed the way sports was played and viewed across the country.
He was a master salesman, an impeccable leader, and terrific orator and wasn't afraid to take risks. He went against the grain. Without the gumption of Hofheinz, the Astros and the Astrodome may have never existed. Baseball in Houston would have looked dramatically different without Hofheinz's can-do spirit and remarkable vision. "He was just a dynamic, exciting individual that could really captivate an audience," said longtime Astros executive Tal Smith, who was hired by Hofheinz as a staffer in helping to build the Astrodome. "He's the best orator I've ever heard. His presentations were just outstanding."
Hofheinz was born on April 10, 1912, in modest means in Beaumont, Texas. In You Be the Judge by Hofheinz's daughter, Dene Hofheinz Anton, she detailed her father's first money-making project, which entailed setting up a soda pop stand. After serving two terms as Houston's mayor in the 1950s, Judge Hofheinz was lured to join the Houston Sports Association (HSA) by R.E. Smith, who made millions in Texas' booming oil business. The HSA was formed in 1957 by prominent businessmen and lifelong baseball fans George Kirksey, William Kirkland, and Craig Cullinan to help bring a baseball team to Houston, and Hofheinz became a key player because of his political clout and ability to get things done. Kirksey and Cullinan helped organize the Continental League, which eventually led to Houston being awarded a National League expansion franchise in 1960.
With the Astrodome being built for $35 million, the Colt .45s of the National League played their first game on April 10, 1962, the date of the Judge's 50 birthday. There was no better way to blow out the candles than by watching Houston beat the Chicago Cubs 11–2 on that day at Colt Stadium, the makeshift facility in the parking lot of what would become the Astrodome. The Astrodome opened to much fanfare in 1965, and the Astros were born. Hofheinz continued to be the Astrodome's biggest promoter and was one of the key members in the introduction of an artificial playing surface in the Astrodome now referred to as Astroturf. During his time as owner of the Astros, his vision created an excitement for baseball in Houston that laid the foundation for the great success of the franchise.
Former Astros pitcher Larry Dierker said Hofheinz was so convincingly persuasive that around 1968, when the team couldn't get a sponsor for its pregame radio show, he talked players into doing the interviews for free, even though players on other teams were getting paid for similar interviews. "They told us we were going to do the interviews, and there weren't going to be any gifts," Dierker said. "Obviously, it created quite a stir. The next day Judge Hofheinz went into the clubhouse and held a meeting with the players and delivered a speech and laid out the opportunities we had as young men to be stars in the community and to build upon that for our baseball careers and future careers and how much it would mean to us having all this good publicity. By the time he got done talking, guys were lined up to go on the show. That was the Judge."
Ever the showman Judge Hofheinz developed Astroworld, an amusement park that was built across the freeway; purchased the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus; and developed four hotels in the area as part of his Astrodomain project. Hofheinz suffered a stroke in 1970 that confined him to a wheelchair. Five years later with the Astrodomain in debt, control of the team was passed to two credit companies, and Hofheinz sold his remaining stock. He died of a heart attack on November 22, 1982, but left a magnificent, inimitable legacy.CHAPTER 2
2017 World Series
No team has been woven into the fabric of the Houston scene sports longer than the Astros, who were founded in 1962 as the expansion Colt .45s and grew up with a city on the rise. Through heartbreak and triumph, unforgettable highs and crushing lows, the Astros remained a proud part of Houston's history.
So when Astros second baseman Jose Altuve fielded a grounder off the bat of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager and calmly threw the ball to teammate Yuli Gurriel at first base for the final out of the 2017 World Series, it was a moment 56 years in the making.
Only four years after losing a franchise-record 111 games, the Astros completed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history when they beat the Dodgers in the Fall Classic for their first championship. The Astros took down the Dodgers 5 — 1 in Game 7 to spark a celebration that began on the infield at Dodger Stadium and lasted throughout the winter in Houston.
"We were at the bottom," pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "Nobody wanted to come here. It was an open tryout and now it's a destination for players to come. We've got MVPs wanting to come here, we've got Cy Youngs wanting to come here. We're on top of the world."
The Astros mobbed each other on the field in an ending fit for Hollywood. Back home in Houston, the moment generations of Astros fans had waited years to see brought unprecedented outbursts of emotion. And emotions ran high for the players, too. "It's unbelievable," said outfielder George Springer, who shook off an 0-for-4, four-strikeout performance in Game 1 to win World Series Most Valuable Player. "It's indescribable. When you get to spring, you know who you have, you see what you have, and there's always the thought of 'we could do it,' but the 162-plus games is a lot of games. And lot of things have to go right in order to get here."
A city that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in August rallied around its baseball team and held on for dear life. The Astros, struggling through August, acquired Justin Verlander and zoomed to the American League West title and 101 wins. They took down the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series before meeting another iconic franchise — the Dodgers.
In a Fall Classic full of heart-stopping moments, the Astros rallied to win Game 2 in dramatic fashion in 11 innings in the searing L.A. heat and walked off the Dodgers to win an epic Game 5 in Houston 13–12. Started by Cy Young winners Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw, that game featured three game-tying homers hit by the Astros followed by the Dodgers' three-run rally in the ninth to tie it at 12 at the stroke of midnight in Houston. Alex Bregman's walk-off single in the 10 sent the Astros back to L.A. with a 3–2 series lead, but the Dodgers' Game 6 victory set the stage for the biggest win in Astros franchise history in Game 7. "That's going to go down as one of the more remarkable World Series of all time, and that takes two teams to do that," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That team across the way equally could have been champions. We just outlasted them."
The story of how the Astros reached the pinnacle of baseball is remarkable. When an ownership group led by Jim Crane hired a forward-thinking general manager in Jeff Luhnow late in 2011, the Astros traded away veteran players and began stockpiling prospects. Altuve was already in the fold and so were Springer and Keuchel. They were soon joined by Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Correa, and Bregman.
After three consecutive seasons of at least 100 losses, the Astros made a surprising playoff run in 2015 but missed the playoffs in 2016. With a young core in place, management added veterans Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick in the offseason, and when Verlander was acquired in an August 31 trade with the Tigers, the final piece was in place. "This team was special from the get-go even before we got the guys we acquired from the deadline," Reddick said. "We knew this was a team that could get us to the stage we wanted to be."
From the early days of Judge Hofheinz and the magical Astrodome to the rainbow uniforms and the Killer B's, the Astros' rich history finally included a championship. Four years removed from their third consecutive 100-loss season, the Astros delivered Houston's third major sports title — first in 22 years — led by a relentless offense and a pitching staff with grit and heart. "It won't hit us until we get home in front of our whole city and we celebrate and we bring the trophy home," Hinch said.
For lifelong Astros fans, a World Series title means so much more. It was a win for Bob Aspromonte, Jimmy Wynn, and Bob Watson. It was for Art Howe, Nolan Ryan, and Cesar Cedeno. It was for Shane Reynolds, Brad Ausmus, and Larry Dierker. It was for Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell — both of whom were in attendance for Game 7. And it was for the Astros who left to soon — Joe Niekro, Ken Caminiti, Darryl Kile, and Jose Lima.
It was for every Astros fan who endured the playoff heartbreaks of 1980 and 1986, left the Astrodome in frustration in the late 1990s when their team couldn't get past the Atlanta Braves, and cringed when Albert Pujols' stunning homer won Game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series, a series Astros won two days later for their first World Series. The ups and downs, they finally all made sense. The Astros were champions.CHAPTER 3
He ran out every ground ball, whether it was the first day of spring training or the first game of the World Series. It didn't matter to Craig Biggio. If he had a chance to put on an Astros uniform and play baseball, he was going to give it his all. For 20 years Biggio, with his boyish good looks, filthy batting helmet, and dirty uniform, weaved his way into the hearts of Astros fans, as well as the record books. He retired in 2007, as perhaps the greatest Astro of them all, with 3,060 hits — including more doubles than any other right-handed hitter in history — and eventually a plaque on the wall in the Baseball Hall of Fame. "What a gamer," former Astros manager Art Howe said. "He made my job easy for five years, that's for sure."
Biggio grew up in blue-collar Long Island, New York, as an undersized two-sport star — football and baseball — in a family of air traffic controllers. Biggio had other plans. He quickly separated himself from his peers with his athletic prowess, earning a scholarship to Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He soon put himself on the radar of major league scouts, and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, who was serving as an Astros coach at the time, went to scout the promising young catcher in person.
The Astros drafted Biggio in the first round in 1987, and he was in the majors a year later, taking over as starting catcher for Alan Ashby. He quickly blossomed into an All-Star before being moved to second base in 1992. There he became a superstar. He was among the best players in the game in the mid-to-late 1990s and helped the Astros win four division titles in a five-year span (1997 — 99, 2001). He and longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell became franchise cornerstones and eventually reached the World Series together in 2005, Bagwell's final year. "I was an East Coast kid and all I ever wanted to do was get to the World Series," Biggio said. "Hopefully the team that drafted me was the team that we were going to get there with."
Biggio moved to the outfield for two years when the Astros signed Jeff Kent. He returned to second base in 2005 and played the final three seasons of his career at the position. Biggio wound up hitting 291 home runs with 1,175 RBIs, 414 stolen bases, and a .281 average. "Craig's never going to talk that much about it, and you can talk about his athleticism and talk about his skills and all that stuff, but you don't become what Craig became if you're just not driven and you just don't have a lot more qualities about yourself that don't show up in the box score," said Bill Doran, who helped Biggio learn second base and was ultimately unseated at the position by Biggio. "He had all those intangibles."
Biggio became the 27 player in major league history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau after he hit a seventh-inning single against Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook on June 28, 2007, at Minute Maid Park. A hustling Biggio was thrown out at second base trying to stretch the historic hit into a double. Biggio's No. 7 was retired by the Astros in 2008. He received the ultimate honor on July 26, 2015, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, becoming the first player to be enshrined with an Astros cap on his plaque. His impact on baseball was secure, but his impact on those who played with him was bigger. "More than anything it was an attitude," said former Astros shortstop Adam Everett. "It was an attitude of how to come to work every day and how to play the game. You can tell kids all the time, 'Hey, play the game hard,' but until you see a guy literally run until his last game he played, and he hits a pop up and runs it out under 4.5 [seconds] and he tries to stretch a single into a double for his 3,000, that was Biggio. That was the way he played."
Former Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker, who was the assistant general manager of the New York Mets before coming to Houston, said Biggio never got the national recognition he deserved. He said if Biggio was playing in New York, Boston, or Chicago, he would have been on billboards. But he didn't need the spotlight. Biggio embraced Houston, raised a family there, and was a pillar in the community. He helped raise millions for the Sunshine Kids organization that supports kids with cancer. Biggio wore a yellow sun pin on his batting practice cap throughout his career and was as proud of the work he did for kids as he was any of his on-field achievements. "Craig was a once-in-a-lifetime player. He was a manager's dream in the sense you just pencil his name in the lineup every day," Hunsicker said. "He brought his A game every day. He gave everything he had to win day in and day out. It's no coincidence that the greatest stretch in franchise history was with Biggio."CHAPTER 4
The Astrodome: The Eighth Wonder of the World
When the Astrodome opened on April 9, 1965, its historical significance wasn't lost on anybody who was in the building that night. The vision of Judge Roy Hofheinz, the magnificent Astrodome — the "Eighth Wonder of the World" — ushered in a new era in the way sports would be watched forever. It had air-conditioning, a roof, and cushioned seats. And when the New York Yankees came to Houston for an exhibition game against the newly named Astros, 47,876 fans — including President Lyndon B. Johnson — were on hand to witness history. Even the players couldn't help being nervous.
Astros catcher Ron Brand was behind the plate when Yankees great Mickey Mantle led off the game in the top of the first inning. The Hall of Fame had asked Brand to ask Mantle to take the first pitch so the ball could be sent to Cooperstown. "So he came up and I politely said, 'Mickey, they want you to take the first pitch,'" Brand said. "Mantle said, 'Okay,' and he smoothed the dirt. He said, 'Shoot, I'm too nervous to swing anyway.'" Mantle led off with a single and homered in the sixth. He's credited with the first home run in the $35 million Astrodome, though Bob Aspromonte of the Astros hit the first regular-season home run by an Astros player in the Dome. "When you circle the bases and have 50,000 people in the stadium, it was a long-lasting feeling," Aspromonte said.
Hofheinz, his partner R.E. "Bob" Smith, and several other influential figures brought big league baseball to Houston and laid out plans for the Astrodome. Hofheinz presented the idea of the stadium to the National League owners in 1960, around the same time Houston was awarded a National League franchise. During the January 3, 1962, groundbreaking, members of the Harris County Commissioners and Houston Sports Association simultaneously fired Colt .45 pistols into the dirt.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "100 Things Astros Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die"
Copyright © 2018 Brian McTaggart.
Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Craig Biggio ix
1 The Judge 1
2 2017 World Series 3
3 Craig Biggio 6
4 The Astrodome: The Eighth Wonder of the World 10
5 Nolan Ryan 12
6 The Colt 45s 15
7 Biggio Reaches Hall of Fame 18
8 Jeff Bagwell 21
9 Killer B's 26
10 Tombstone 28
11 Houston Becomes AL Town 30
12 Mike Scott 33
13 Biggio's 3,000lh Hit 36
14 Larry Dierker 38
15 Altuve Becomes a Star 41
16 The Justin Verlander Trade 47
17 1980 NLCS 49
18 First-Round Playoff Blues 51
19 Lance Berkman 54
20 The Big Unit Hits Houston 56
21 Dallas Keuchel 59
22 Ken Caminiti 62
23 Crawford Boxes Spook Pitchers 65
24 Ryan Spins Fifth No-No 67
25 Hurricane Ike 69
26 Jeff Bagwell's MVP Season 72
27 Garner 74
28 George Springer 76
29 Six Pitcher No-Hitter 79
30 IMS Drayton McLane 81
31 Biggio Moves to Second Base 83
32 Bagwell Trade Alters History 86
33 Cesar Cedeno 90
34 Hurricane Harvey 92
35 Sunshine Kids 95
36 Joe Niekro 97
37 The 2004 Season 99
38 Roy Oswalt 101
39 Hatcher's Game 6 Home Run 104
40 Visit the Hall of Fame 107
41 Pettitte, Clemens Come Home 109
42 Astrodome Scoreboard Dazzles 112
43 Jeff Kent's Walk-Off Home Run 114
44 John McMullen 117
45 26-Game Road Trip 119
46 22-Inning Game 121
47 Jose Cruz 123
48 The Toy Cannon 125
49 Tal Smith 128
50 Carlos Correa 130
51 Jim Deshaies Strikes Out the First Eight Batters 134
52 Art Howe 136
53 Lima Time 138
54 Three Consecutive No. 1 Picks 140
55 Rainbow Jerseys 143
56 Enos Cabell 145
57 Carlos Beltran 148
58 J.R. Richard 151
59 Notable Announcers 153
60 Chris Burke's Walk-Off Home Run 156
61 Astros Reach Fall Classic 158
62 Darryl Kile 161
63 Alan Ashby 163
64 Brad Ausmus 165
65 Kerry Wood K's 20 Astros 167
66 Astros Overcome Pujols' Home Run off Brad Lidge 169
67 Watson Breaks a Barrier 172
68 1980 NL West Tiebreaker 175
69 A.J. Hinch 177
70 Tal's Hill 180
71 Watch a Game from the Crawford Boxes 182
72 1986 NLCS 184
73 Rusty Staub 186
74 Glenn Davis 188
75 The Talent and Tragedy of Dickie Thon 191
76 Hello, Analytics 193
77 Rainout in Astrodome 196
78 Other Astros Hail of Famers 198
79 Aspromonte Homers for a Blind Child 204
80 Terry Puhl 206
81 Shane Reynolds 208
82 Joe Morgan 210
83 Watson Scores Millionth Run 212
84 Billy Wagner 214
85 Crazy Injuries 217
86 Hunter Pence 219
87 Bill Doran 221
88 Yogi Berra 223
89 Norm Miller and the 24-Inning Game 225
90 Bill Virdon 227
92 Bob Watson and The Bad News Bears 229
93 Get Nostalgic About the Astrodome 231
94 Cardinals Hack the Astros 235
95 Tour Minute Maid Park 237
96 Hal Lanier 240
97 Go to FanFest 242
98 Big Game Brandon Backe 244
99 Go to a Double A Game 246
99 The Don Wilson and Jim Umbricht Tragedies 248
100 Famous Brawls 250
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a good book if you're an astros fan .
If you're an Astros fan this is the book for you! It's a trip down memory lane. Brian covers all the big moments/people and covers them superbly!