Currently, the Houston Astros have ten jerseys hanging up at Minute Maid Park: Larry Dierker (#49), Jackie Robinson (#42), Don Wilson (#40), Nolan Ryan (#34), Mike Scott (#33), Jim Umbricht (#32), Jose Cruz (#25), Jimmy Wynn (#24), Craig Biggio (#7), and Jeff Bagwell (#5). Each one of those players, besides Robinson, performed at a very high level as a member of the Astros and each represent different periods of Houston baseball.
Now, with the team in a new era and starting to turn things around, I think it’s even more important to continue to respect and honor the past legends of the franchise. Owner Jim Crane has done a nice job keeping former players like Biggio, Bagwell, Adam Everett, Morgan Ensberg and more around the organization, but now I think it’s time to retire the next Astros’ jersey.
For the sake of argument, we will look at five possible candidates: Mike Hampton, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus, and Billy Wagner. I clearly chose players from the last decade or so because there’s no point in arguing over guys like Joe Morgan, Joe Niekro, J.R. Richard, and Cesar Cedeno at this point. Whether you agree or disagree with the organization’s decision, the time to retire those numbers has most likely passed.
Guys who “just missed the cut” for various reasons (ex: too short of a stint with the Astros, jersey is retired somewhere else, still in the league, etc.) were Richard Hidalgo, Moises Alou, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Wandy Rodriguez, Brad Lidge, and Hunter Pence. Remember, for the Astros to retire a number, it has to mean something to the city and organization. Although I think the final choices are obvious, let’s break down the five most likely candidates one-by-one.