1969 Houston Astros
1969 Houston Astros / Franchise: Houston Astros / BR Team Page
Managed by Harry Walker
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1969 Houston Astros were the other team (with the Seattle Pilots) for which pitcher Jim Bouton played for during the season he immortalized in his baseball diary Ball Four. They had the worst beginning to a season of any team in franchise history, going 4-20 over their first 24 games before settling down and managing to finish the year at .500 after being in the pennant race in late August and early September. It was the first time in franchise history that the team had reached the .500 mark; just like their brothers from the expansion of 1962, the New York Mets, the Astros (and Houston Colt .45s in their first three years) had spent their first few years battling to escape last place in the National League but became good all of a sudden in 1969.
The Astros set a major league record (since broken) by striking out 1,221 opposing batters. Three pitchers struck out over 200 batters: Don Wilson (235), Larry Dierker (232) and rookie Tom Griffin (200); Denny Lemaster had 173. They were only the second team in history to have three pitchers with 200 or more strikeouts, after the 1967 Minnesota Twins; the 2013 Detroit Tigers weer the next team to do so, setting a new single-season team strikeout record in the process, and the 2018 Cleveland Indians became the first team to have four such pitchers on their staff.
Awards and Honors
- Jim Bouton: Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues, Wiley Publishing Inc., New York, NY, 1990 (originally published in 1970). ISBN 0-02-030665-2