Astros In Cooperstown
by Bob Hulsey

Biggio and Bagwell both finally enshrined. (c)

Last updated: 7/5/2021

The 2010s saw the first significant wave of Astro players to be enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. From franchise icons Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell to rent-a-stars like Randy Johnson and Ivan Rodriguez, Houston fans finally had some names at Cooperstown whom they remember in an Astros uniform.

Before then, most of the Houston Hall members were just passing through either in the twilight of their careers or on their way to greener pastures elsewhere. Here is a list of all the Astros enshrined and a look at a few who might join them some day:

Double-click the name for their page at the Hall of Fame website. Click on the player's picture to visit their Astros Daily player page for more details.

(c) Houston Astros
Robin Roberts - Elected, 1976, by BBWAA (87%)
The righthander had his glory days with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 50s but the Astros picked him up in 1965 after he had been waived by the Baltimore Orioles. Of his 286 victories, eight came while with Houston as he posted a 2.77 ERA in 23 games. He completed his career with the Chicago Cubs.
1965: Roberts completes a shutout in his first game as an Astro.

(c) Houston Astros
Eddie Mathews - Elected, 1978, by BBWAA (79%)
Mathews was a stalwart third baseman for the Braves as they migrated from Boston to Milwaukee then finally Atlanta. He was dealt to the Astros on New Year's Eve of 1966 and played four months for Houston before he was traded to Detroit in a deal that brought closer Fred Gladding from the Tigers. Mathews batted just .238 with ten homers during his brief stay but one of those long balls was the 500th of the 511 he hit in his career.
1967: Mathews smacks his 500th career homer.

(c) Houston Astros
Joe Morgan - Elected, 1990, by BBWAA (82%)
A small second baseman with a chip on his shoulder, Morgan was a sparkplug at the plate and a magician in the field. He was the first Astro to receive a Rookie of the Year vote (1965) and the first Astro voted to start an All-Star Game (1966). Although his years in Cincinnati with the lethal "Big Red Machine" are what brought him national fame (which he parlayed into a career in broadcasting), Morgan returned to Houston in 1980 and was an important cog in leading the Astros to their first division title.
1970: Morgan dazzles in the field.

(c) Houston Astros
Leo Durocher - Elected, 1994, by Veterans Committee
Durocher's was a lifetime of baseball history, from playing alongside Babe Ruth in the 20s to being part of the Gas House Gang of the 30s to managing the Dodgers in the 40s and the Giants in the 50s. By the time he arrived in Houston in 1972, he had lost none of his fire but was little more than a carnival act trotted out to give the impression of baseball legitimacy to the Houston fans. "Leo the Lip" passed away in 1991 and was selected by the Veterans Committee three years later.

(c) Houston Astros
Nellie Fox - Elected, 1997, by Veterans Committee
With his ever-present chaw of tobacco, Fox was the consummate second baseman of the 1950s, spraying hits with his choppy swing while turning double plays with ease. His heyday was with the Chicago White Sox but he was traded late in his career to the Houston Colt .45s where he mentored a young Joe Morgan on to greatness. In 1965, Fox became a player-coach and stayed with the Astros as a coach after that. He passed away from cancer in 1975 and was selected by the Veterans Committee two decades later.
1965: Fox's single wins the first game at the Astrodome.

(c) Houston Astros
Don Sutton - Elected, 1998, by BBWAA (82%)
A longtime nemesis while with the Dodgers, Sutton signed with the Astros as a free agent before the 1981 season. He won 24 games and posted a 2.82 ERA over the next two seasons before he was traded to Milwaukee for Kevin Bass and two others. Sutton also pitched for the A's and Angels on his way to 324 career wins. Sutton also owns another footnote in Astros history - the first winning pitcher of a game played on artificial turf, as a rookie, in 1966.

(c) Houston Astros
Nolan Ryan - Elected, 1999, by BBWAA (99%)
The Hall of Fame was built for guys like this. Author of seven no-hitters and 5714 strikeouts (both unmatched in baseball history), Ryan notched 106 of his 324 career wins for Houston as well as tossing his record fifth no-hitter and topping Walter Johnson's career record for strikeouts. Ryan signed baseball's first million-dollar-per-year contract when he came to Houston in 1980 as a free agent and left in just as controversial fashion, lured away by the cross-state Texas Rangers after the 1988 season.
1981: Ryan closes out his fifth no-hitter.

(c) Houston Astros
Craig Biggio - Elected, 2015, by BBWAA (83%)
Two numbers clinched Biggio's candidacy for enshrinement: 3060 hits (20th all-time at the time of his retirement) and 668 doubles (fifth all-time). A few critics sniped about a lack of big moments on the big stage but they will be drowned out by supporters of this catcher-turned-infielder-turned-outfielder who demonstrated power, speed, hustle and a team attitude to become one of the top players of his generation. He's also known for his off-field charity work and his teaching younger teammates to play the game "the right way". Many consider him the first "true" Astro enshrined because he spent his entire career in Houston and is the first inducted with an Astros cap on his plaque.
2007: Biggio spanks his 3,000th hit.

(c) Houston Astros
Randy Johnson - Elected in 2015, BBWAA (97%)
Although his time in Houston was brief (just over two months), his 22-year career is induction-worthy. He topped 300 wins, ranked second overall in strikeouts, tossed two no-hitters (one a perfect game), was a ten-time All-Star, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, a World Series co-MVP, four-time ERA titleist and a nine-time strikeout champion.
1998: Johnson's Houston debut was a memorable one.

(c) Houston Astros
Jeff Bagwell - Elected in 2017, BBWAA (86%)
Unproven whispers of performance enhancing drugs and a crowded field were the only two things holding Bagwell back from induction. He was finally voted in on his seventh try. The resume speaks for itself. National League Rookie Of The Year (1991), National League Most Valuable Player (1994) and four-time All-Star in an era of powerful first-sackers. Jeff retired with many of the franchise's power records. For his career, he hit .297 with 449 home runs, 1529 RBIs and an OPS 0f .948. He had a string of eight straight seasons with 30 or more homers.
2004: Bagwell launches a grand slam after banging a double earlier in the inning.

(c) Houston Astros
Ivan Rodriguez - Elected in 2017, BBWAA (76%)
"Pudge" did not play long in Houston and hit a pedestrian .251 as an Astro in 2009 but that takes nothing away from a long career which has featured more games caught than any catcher in big league history and 300+ home runs. Known also for his stellar defense and his quick arm to throw out runners, the Puerto Rican backstop had the additional honor of being elected to the Hall on his first time on the ballot.
2009: Rodriguez reaches a personal milestone with his 300th homer.

The Astros were shut out of any further Hall-of-Fame inductions during the first decade of the 21st Century, but the next decade ought to be kinder, with several former Astros existing as good candidates for enshrinement after the five-year waiting period from their last big league season. Here are listed those I'd rate with at least a 50% chance of being voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America during their window of eligibility:

(c) Houston Astros
Roger Clemens - Eligible in 2013
On numbers alone, Clemens ought to be a certainty for the Hall. He's ninth all-time in victories (354), third in strikeouts (4672), an 11-time All-Star, 7-time Cy Young Award winner with an MVP Award to boot. What might keep him out is his name showing up in the Mitchell Report as a user of performance enhancing drugs and his hamhanded denials of it. He was also not among the friendliest with the media. It may take a couple of years but I think he'll eventually get in.
Odds of enshrinement: 65%.

(c) Houston Astros
Jeff Kent - Eligible in 2014
Kent is the sort of player that may be hard to vote in but hard to vote out, staying on the ballot for years. His primary calling card is hitting more homers and driving in more runs than any second baseman in history. Plus, he won an MVP Award in San Francisco. His game-winning homer in the 2004 NLCS with Houston also burnishes his credentials. Like Clemens, he was prickly with the media but, unlike Clemens, nobody has tied the policeman's son into any drug accusations.
Odds of enshrinement: 40%.

(c) Houston Astros
Curt Schilling - Eligible in 2013
Few pitchers can say they reached the World Series with three different organizations the way Curt Schilling can. He was the ace of the 1993 Phillies and co-ace of the 2001 Diamondbacks and 2004 Red Sox. A six-time All-Star, Schilling had 216 wins in a time of five-man rotations and relief specialists. The "bloody sock" of 2004 ALCS lore is the type of nugget that may put him over the top but his open politicking for George W. Bush may be held against him by left-leaning sportswriters. In 2021, he fell just 16 votes short of enshrinement but, like Clemens and Kent, he is running out of years eligible on the ballot.
Odds of enshrinement: 65%.

(c) Houston Astros
Billy Wagner - Eligible in 2016
Few could bring the heat like lefty closer Billy Wagner, who came up with the Astros in 1995 and stayed through the 2003 season, setting the franchise record for saves (225). Playing on the East Coast for the Phillies and Mets may help his chances but he was never a media favorite, despite 422 career saves and an eye-popping 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Odds of enshrinement: 45%.

(c) Houston Astros
Jose Altuve - Eligible in 20??
What?? You must be crazy!! Altuve isn't even past 35 years old and you already have a plaque ready for him?

Many things can happen but the Venezuelan mite is on a career path for 3,000 hits before his 40th birthday. Out of five metrics to project future Hall-of-Famers at, Jose has already reached the probable induction line on two of them. What could kill his chances are being branded with the 2017 sign-stealing scandal despite being opposed to it and refusing to participate in it. The same East Coast media that unfairly branded Bagwell despite having no proof, may do the same for Altuve.
Odds of enshrinement: Too Soon To Call.

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