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Toy Cannon's Number to Be Retired

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by wrath_of_khan, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. wrath_of_khan

    wrath_of_khan Contributing Member

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    After last night's frustrating loss, how about some feel-good news from Astros Planet?

    Glad to see an old school Stro get acknowledged. To hit 37 HRs in the old Dome in 1967 (wasn't that a pitchers' era?) is amazing...

    Wynn to get number retired by Astros

    By Jim Molony / MLB.com

    HOUSTON -- Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn, whose small frame belied his awesome power, will have his number 24 retired by the Houston Astros on Friday, July 8, before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    "Jimmy, we're very thankful to have you accept this honor, and this is something that's going to be very significant to Houston Astros fans all over the United States," Astros Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Drayton McLane Jr. said. "We're very proud to make this announcement."

    Wynn played 11 of his 15 Major League seasons in a Houston uniform from 1963-73. A three-time All-Star outfielder (1967, '74, '75), Wynn batted .250 with 291 home runs, 964 RBIs and 1,224 walks in his big-league career, which included two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1974-75), one year with the Atlanta Braves (1976) and he split the 1977 campaign between the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers.

    "It is an honor, and it is a blessing," said Wynn as his wife, Marie, stood by. "It's almost like being inducted into the Hall of Fame. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much."

    Wynn stood only 5-feet-9 and weighed 168 pounds when he was playing, but he carried a booming bat and could run.

    "He could do everything," said former teammate Larry Dierker. "He could hit the ball a mile; he had outstanding speed. The only thing he doesn't have is the .300 batting average. But up until a couple of years ago, he held the National League record for walks in a single season. Between hitting .260 and .270 and all the home runs and the walks and stolen bases, he was like a little Willie Mays. He had that sideways way of running like Mays, and he covered a lot of ground."

    Dierker has vivid memories of Wynn as the two were teammates for 10 years with the Colt .45s and Astros.

    "He made what I think was probably the very best catch ever made in the Astrodome," Dierker said. "And it came the very next night after the catch [Pittsburgh's Roberto] Clemente made that he's well known for being the best catch in the Astrodome. The next night, Jimmy was running for the ball over near the foul line, there was a plywood barrier over there about five feet from the line, and he had to dive head first to catch the ball. He did and did a torpedo spear into the plywood fence. But he held the ball, and we won the game because of that catch."

    Wynn still holds a few franchise records, including the most consecutive games scoring a run (11 games), most runs by a center fielder in a single (107) and most homers by a center fielder in one season (37). He was the first Astros player to hit three home runs in a game.

    "When he played, before the fences were moved in, you could almost say just about any home run in the Astrodome was a tape measure because the line was 340 [feet] and the wall was 25 feet high and that wall went over to left-center until the gaps, but in the gaps it was 390 [feet]," Dierker said. "The ball didn't carry either. You had to hit the ball on the sweet spot, or it wouldn't go. So three home runs in that ballpark is probably the most impressive thing I've seen as far as a one-game accomplishment."


    Tal Smith, Astros president of baseball operations, was among those instrumental in bringing Wynn to Houston in 1962.

    "He was not only a tremendous home-run hitter and run producer with power, but he was also an excellent center fielder with an excellent arm, great speed and great range," Smith said. "In 1967, Jimmy hit 15 of his 37 home runs in the Astrodome, and to put that in the proper perspective, the Astros as a team that year hit 31 home runs. Altogtether, the Astros and the visiting team hit a total of 63 home runs in the Dome in 1967, so Jimmy represented virtually one fourth of the total.

    "In our 43 years of play, we've had many great players take the field representing the Houston Astros, but it's really special today to announce the retirement of number 24 and to honor and recognize the first in line, I think, of the great Astros players."

    Originally signed by his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1962, Wynn was selected by the Colt .45s in the First-Year Player Draft following the 1962 season. He made his big-league debut in 1963 in Houston and was part of an all-rookie lineup on Sept. 27, 1963, along with Sonny Jackson, Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub and Jerry Grote.

    Wynn was named team MVP in 1965, and he earned his first All-Star Game nod with Houston in 1967, the same season he became the first Astros player to hit three home runs in a game (June 15, 1967 against San Francisco). With the Astros, Wynn batted .255 with 223 home runs and 719 RBIs. He hit a career-high 37 home runs in 1967 -- a club record he held until Jeff Bagwell hit 39 in 1994 -- and he collected a career-high and league-leading 148 walks in 1969, which ranks second on the Houston all-time list.

    Wynn once hit a ball out of Crosley Field in Cincinnati that went over the scoreboard and bounced onto a nearby interstate highway.

    "[The ballpark was] about three blocks from where I was born," Wynn recalled. "Every day I used to come down after school and catch baseballs and sell them for my meal money."

    Wynn never did get a chance to play regularly in a hitters' park like Crosley Field. He was asked how he might have fared in hitter friendly Minute Maid Park.

    "I would have loved to have played in this ballpark," Wynn said. "If I hit 37 [playing] in the Dome, you take a guess."

    Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Wynn played baseball at R.A. Taft High School in Cincinnati and at Central State University. Today he is on the board of directors of the MLB Alumni Association and also works with charities and children's groups in the area on behalf of the Astros.

    Wynn still ranks among Houston's all-time top 10 lists in several categories, including career games (6th, 1,426), at-bats (5th, 5,063), home runs (3rd, 223), walks (3rd, 847), runs (5th, 829), hits (7th, 1,291), doubles (6th, 228), extra-base hits (5th, 483), total bases (5th, 2,252), and slugging percentage (6th, .445). On April, 12, 1970, he became the first player to hit a home run into the Astrodome's upper deck in left field during a regular-season game.

    Wynn was traded to the Dodgers on Dec. 6, 1973, where he played two seasons and earned two trips to the All-Star Game (1974 and '75). He still holds the Dodgers' record for most walks in a season (110 in 1975). The following year in Atlanta, he set the current Braves single-season walks record with a league-leading 127 bases on balls.

    "Jimmy, just for the record, I left the club Nov. 1, 1973, five or six weeks before the trade," Smith said. "That was [former Houston General Manager] Spec [Richardson] and [former manager] Leo [Durocher], that wasn't me."

    Wynn becomes the eighth player in franchise history to have his number retired. Previous honorees include Jim Umbricht (32, 1962-63), Don Wilson (40, 1968-74), Jose Cruz (25, 1975-87), Mike Scott (33, 1983-91), Nolan Ryan (34, 1980-88), Dierker (49, 1964-76), and Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 was retired by all of Major League Baseball in 1997.

    This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
     
    #1 wrath_of_khan, Apr 19, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2005
  2. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    that's great!!
     
  3. SamCassell

    SamCassell Contributing Member

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    No slugger in baseball history has had his numbers suppressed by his home park as much as Jimmy Winn. He was really a heck of a player. Good for him.
     
  4. wrath_of_khan

    wrath_of_khan Contributing Member

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    Well said.
     
  5. edwardc

    edwardc Member

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    The Astros management does have some class after all.:rolleyes:
     
  6. RocketMan Tex

    RocketMan Tex Contributing Member

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    I'm happy about this. I listened to Jimmy on 610 earlier this week. He is very articulate, and reads this year's Astros team pretty well IMHO.

    I wish the Astros would retire JR Richard's #50 as well.....
     
  7. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    I still remember watching several of Wynn's moon shots, at Forbes and Crosley. Good for him.
     
  8. msn

    msn Member

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    No kidding. I've written them numerous times asking them to do so.
     
  9. Buck Turgidson

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    Since they're the most profligate team in the majors regarding retiring numbers, they might as well.

    If it were up to me, Cruz, Ryan & Dierk would be the only Astros up there, until it's time for 5 & 7.
     
  10. msn

    msn Member

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    I see your point there. I think Wynn's career in Houston is up there with both Cruz and Ryan, however; so I would add Wynn to your short list.
     

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