Every sports organization has its icons, the faces of the franchise so to speak. When you think of the Yankees, you think Ruth, Gehrig and Rivera. Talk of the Dodgers and the conversation immediately goes to Koufax, Drysdale, Robinson, Vin Scully and others.
For the Green Bay Packers, it’s Favre, Nitschke, White and Starr.
So, when you think of the Astros, who comes to mind? Who are the faces of the franchise? There are some no-brainers and some near-obvious names that pop into your head.
But here’s today’s question: If you had to pick four names to be carved onto an Astros’ Mount Rushmore, which four would it be? No equivocating and splitting allegiances. We need four names, and just four names. Here are some options for you to consider, though you may have others you’d like to suggest.
Jeff Bagwell. This one is a no brainer. He leads the franchise in HRs (449) and RBI (1,529). He’s also the only Astro to ever win the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.
Craig Biggio. The only Astros’ player to ever reach the 3,000-hit plateau, finishing his career with 3,060. He played a franchise-record 20 seasons in an Astros’ uniform. Seven-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.
Nolan Ryan. Yes, he left the Astros after nine seasons and went into the Hall of Fame as a Texas Ranger. Recorded his fifth no-hitter as a member of the Astros. He leads the franchise in strikeouts (1,866).
Mike Scott. Any true Astros’ fan remembers that September no-hitter that made history for Houston. Who could forget. A couple of big seasons may not be enough, but his #33 has been retired, which also puts him in the equation.
Larry Dierker. You might argue that he should be in the “obvious” category, but there has to be some suspense, right? Perhaps no one else has had as much of an impact on the organization. First, as a player, then a broadcaster and finally, as a manager who still has the best winning percentage (.556) of anyone who has sat in the chair.
Judge Roy Hofheinz. He was one of the main forces behind bringing baseball to Houston and also led a group that built the Harris County Domed Stadium, also known as The Astrodome.
Jose Cruz. He was Astros’ MVP four times and hit .300+ six times in his career, but his contributions to the organization probably don’t rise to statue status.
Jimmy Wynn. The Toy Cannon will get some consideration and probably even a few votes, especially since many of his 224 career home runs came in the cavernous Astrodome.
Gerry Hunsicker. Arguably, the best general manager in franchise history. No other Astros’ era was better than 1995-2004, when Hunsicker built an incredible decade of success. His inability to mesh with owner Drayton McLane was his downfall and his departure coincides with the downward spiral the Astros are digging out of now.
Others worth mentioning.