3rd Best All-Time Astros Starter
Don Wilson by Elliot Jenkins
Don Wilson’s pitching brilliance established him as one of the greatest pitchers to ever put on an Astros uniform. With so many sterling achievements over his nine years with the Astros, one can only wonder how big has career could have truly blossomed had it not taken such a tragic and disastrous turn.
Wilson was signed as an amateur free agent out of Compton Community College by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964. He was a flamethrower with an electric fastball that he relied on heavily throughout his career. He pitched his first game in 1966 at 21. He became a staple of the Astros rotation in 1967, leading the team in ERA and throwing a no-hitter on June 18th against the Atlanta Braves. The no-hitter was the first ever in the Astrodome.
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He threw his second no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on May 1, 1969. It was the Astros’ first away no-hitter, and Wilson allowed a franchise-record eight baserunners. Curiously, the Reds no-hit the Astros the very day before, making it the second case of back-to-back series no-hitters in history. In 1971, Wilson led the league with an impressive 6.549 hits per 9 innings and was named to his first and only All-Star team.
He is 3rd in career Astros pitchers’ WAR with 27.7 over 1,748 innings, which also puts him 5th all-time for Astros innings pitched. Only Larry Dierker and Roy Oswalt are ahead of him. He is 3rd all-time in career Astros complete games, behind Dierker and Joe Niekro, with 78. He is 4th in Astros career shutouts with 20 behind only Dierker, Niekro, and Mike Scott. He is 7th all-time in career Astros ERA (3.15), career Astros wins (104), career Astros H/9 (7.614), and career Astros strikeouts (1,283). He is 10th all-time in career Astros FIP with 3.10.
In a heartbreaking turn of events, Wilson died in his garage with his car engine running on January 5, 1975. He was 29. The Astros retired his number 40 on April 13, 1975.
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