Walter Ray Matthews
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lb.
Outfielder/first baseman Walt Matthews played 12 years in the minor leagues, from 1956 to 1967, then went onto become the longest-tenured figure in Houston Astros history, until the time of his death in 2014.
He began his career in the St. Louis Cardinals system. Possessing decent power, Matthews slugged 11 home runs for the Ardmore Cardinals in 1956 and 10 dingers - as well as 32 doubles and 7 triples - for the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 1957. He also hit .322 that year. In 1958, he whacked 11 home runs for the York White Roses. In 1959, his first year in Triple-A with the Omaha Cardinals, he struggled with only four home runs and a meager .251/.318/.333 line in 150 games.
After being drafted in the class AAA phase of the 1959 Rule V Draft, Matthews Joined the Milwaukee Braves system for 1960 and hit .252 with nine home runs in 94 games between the Jacksonville Suns (88 G) and Triple-A Sacramento Solons (6 G, .000 BA). He played for the Jacksonville Jets in 1961, hitting .246/.347/.372 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI in 124 games.
In 1962, he joined the Houston Colt .45s system, in the first season of the franchise that would become the Astros, and would not leave his employer for over 50 years. Playing for the Durham Bulls that year, he hit .241/.329/.391 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI in 115 games. Back with Durham in 1963, he hit .283 with a career-high 30 home runs and a .530 slugging percentage in 136 games. He slumped to a .265 average and 18 home runs with the Bulls in 1964 and in 1965, his fourth and final year as a player with the club, he hit .306 with 18 home runs and a .537 slugging percentage in 119 games.
He served as a player-manager with the Salisbury Astros in 1966, hitting .207 in 21 games, posting a 22.50 ERA in four innings pitched and leading the club to a 44-77, 6th-place finish in league standings. He was manager for the Cocoa Astros in 1967, leading the club to a 49-84 record and a 9th-place finish. He also appeared in a single game as a player, going hitless in one at-bat.
Overall, he hit .272 with 137 home runs and 1,134 hits in 1,230 games played. At the Triple-A level, he hit .245 in 156 games.
After his playing days, he became a scout for Houston, signing multiple players, including Joe Pittman, Gary Wilson, Jack Lazorko, Pat Perry, Bill Doran, Johnny Ray, Jeff Calhoun, Mark Bailey, Robbie Wine, Cole Hyson, John Fishel and Gary Cooper.
Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record
|1964||Durham Bulls||Carolina League||4-4||10th||Houston Colt .45s||replaced Billy Goodman (50-78) on August 26|
|1966||Salisbury Astros||Western Carolinas League||44-77||6th||Houston Astros|
|1967||Cocoa Astros||Florida State League||49-84||9th||Houston Astros|