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Selecting the names for the Astros’ Mount Rushmore


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.

The Obvious.

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.

Strong contenders.

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.

Under consideration.

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.

Don Wilson, Drayton McLane I, Bill Virdon, Bob Watson, Cesar Cedeno.

My choices:

  • Bagwell.
  • Biggio.
  • Dierker.
  • Hunsicker.
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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

33 comments on “Selecting the names for the Astros’ Mount Rushmore

  1. Dan P
    November 13, 2013

    Hey Chip – I have to throw a few other names into the consideration ring…
    Roger Clemens (I know – I am ducking as I type) – but he was a catalyst for them finally winning in the playoffs – just not sure what was pumping through his veins
    Lance Berkman (not ducking near that much) – who was a superb hitter and unlike Craig and Jeff did not forget how to hit in the post-season
    Roy Oswalt who was the best starting pitcher (in my book) in the history of the team.

    Dan’s picks for Mount Rushmore – Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman and Larry Dierker

    But I can respect other folks subs and snubs – but these are my picks.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 14, 2013

      A little more explanation – To me Bagwell, Biggio and Dierker are no brainers. Bagwell and Biggio have the best chance of representing us in the Hall of Fame and spent their whole careers here.
      Dierker was probably a top 5 all-time Astro pitcher and I thought he was the best manager we ever had. Cerebral, loved how he handled a pitching staff and stretched those starters out and had tremendous seasons with the team. His failure in the playoffs was a combination of hitting buzz saw pitching at the wrong time and frankly the failure of the other two heads on Mt. Rushmore to produce offense in the post-season. On top of that he was always an interesting broadcaster whether he was analyzing a game or doing one of his “This Day in Astros History” pieces.
      The fourth head was the toughest and I can easily see other choices than Berkman. I just felt like he was the most clutch long term Astro – as terrific in the playoffs as he was in the regular season. I don’t hold the end of his Astro career unpleasantness against him. I know folks did not think he kept himself in good enough shape – but my gosh the man produced and frankly he was the person I wanted to see up late in a close game (like when he hit the grand slam in the famous 18 inning playoff game against the Braves).

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    November 13, 2013

    Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio.
    Because of long, great careers as Astros players and then long associations with the team after their playing days were over.
    As a longtime Astros fan, I am very sorry that my team chose to rid itself of Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan, when they could have been so much the faces of the franchise. If you were not around then, but have Bags and Bigs on your list, these two players were as much loved in Houston by the fans as those two are today. Had Staub finished his career in Houston, Astros stuff would cover Louisiana, That’s how big Staub was.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      November 14, 2013

      I’m going to hit you with a statistic you will not believe: In his major league career, Rusty Staub had 1255 walks and 888 strikeouts. And he wasn’t a weak hitter. He had 2716 base hits including 292 homeruns.

      Like

  3. devin_
    November 13, 2013

    Joe Morgan, Mike Cuellar, Kenny Lofton, and Curt Schilling.

    Ok, if you’d asked me this question a couple years ago it would have been Dierker, Biggio, and Bagwell as no brainers. Today, however, I’m having trouble valuing offensive stats from the MMP era against those from thirty years ago. Likewise, should I consider what Roy Oswalt did to be superior to some of the guys who threw half their games in the Astrodome? Remember how effective Jose Lima was until they changed stadiums. It doesn’t feel right to me that the fourth bust would come from the last twenty years though. I’m picking Cesar Cedeno right now.

    Like

    • daveb
      November 14, 2013

      Cueller was 37 and 36 over his four seasons in Houston. Why him? Lofton played 20 games here. Shilling was an immature malcontent during his single season. . It’s too bad we traded Morgan, as he would have been deserving had he played a career here.

      But why all these other bit players in Houston history?

      I’ll go with Biggio, Bagwell, Dierker and Wynn, but I was tempted to give j.R. Richard a spot. Have never seen another pitcher since, so dominating and frightening to the hitter.

      Like

    • Dan P
      November 14, 2013

      Dave b
      I think you missed Devins joke – he really picked Bagwell Biggio Dierker and Cedeno

      Like

      • daveb
        November 14, 2013

        Ah yes Dan. Again, guilty as charged. I should not try to read this stuff before 6:00 AM without a cup of coffee in hand.

        Like

  4. Astro45
    November 14, 2013

    Realizing that Astros Mt. Rushmore would be constructed today, and chosen by the current management team, their choice would be Crane, Luhnow, Postolos, and the snow cone guy. (Sorry, Biggio, Bagwell, Dierker, Ryan)

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 14, 2013

      LMAO – Astro 45
      – I assume it would not be an actual mountain as that would cost too much but would be made up of a small scale model sitting on a back table at Larry’s Big Bamboo. Unless someone wants to donate $10 million to Crane for the cause.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        November 14, 2013

        No, actually those names would be on signs hanging out in left field for all ten thousand in paid attendance to read.

        Like

  5. rj1953
    November 14, 2013

    Bagwell, Biggio, Dierker, Cruz. all long term astros.
    but i think you at least have to have Ryan, Wynn, judge Roy, and Hunsicker looking over their shoulders

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    November 14, 2013

    Look, I loved watching Ryan pitch for the Astros, and Nolan was my son’s favorite baseball player, but he chose the Rangers for his team in Cooperstown, not Houston. I cannot put him on my Astros Mt. Rushmore. He chose his mountain.
    Of course we should have resigned him when his contract expired! But his Mt Rushmore baseball team just showed him the door and patted him on the butt as he walked out. That’s two Texas teams that gave him an awkward exit.
    So, Charles Krauthammer, I’m a simple man, tell me where I went wrong here.

    Like

  7. rj1953
    November 14, 2013

    did he pick the rangers or did the league? i have always been foggy on that process.

    Like

    • rj1953
      November 15, 2013

      turns out the Hall of Fame picks which team you go in under. so i’ll stick with Nolan

      Like

  8. BrianT
    November 14, 2013

    Bagwell and Biggio are the easy ones. Frankly, Dierker is fairly easy too. One of the best pitchers in team history. One of the best managers. A wonferful broadcaster. And a snappy dresser.

    Really it’s just down to that last spot. And that’s where I pick Jose Cruz. To me, it’s between him, Berkman, Ryan and Scott.

    Scott’s greatness was too short-lived. Ryan is too easily associated with other teams, particularly the Mets (spit) and Rangers. Oh, and the Angels, who I haven’t learned to hate yet. And Berkman, well, Cruz has years of coaching that break his tie with Lance.

    My other honorable mentions are The Judge, Hunsicker, The Toy Cannon and Oswalt.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 14, 2013

      You make a good point about Cruuuuuz! I picked Berkman as a better player – but you are totally right that Cheo gave us a lot of years in the coaching box and I think he waved less guys into outs than Dave Clark……

      Like

      • Astro45
        November 14, 2013

        All I can remember about Clark was it took a double or better to get a guy home with him coaching third. Ausmus must know something about Clark’s orders while he was here.

        Like

  9. Becky
    November 15, 2013

    Had back surgery yesterday, and I feel like I just got hit by a Mack truck, but my
    Mount Rushmore guys would be:
    Dierker
    Cruuuuuuuz
    Bagwell
    J.R. Richards, and Mike Scott as honorable mention.
    I’ve seen a couple of articles about Chris B. Young wanting to sign with the Astros.
    Would he cost a pick if he signed here? Right field would look a LOT better with
    a guy with his range, and bat out there!

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 15, 2013

      Becky – did Biggio ignore you at a autograph signing??
      I looked at one list that showed FAs requiring compensation and I did not see Young on it – though I often don’t understand all the intricacies of the systems.

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 15, 2013

        “an” autograph…..

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      November 15, 2013

      Hi Becky. Hope you feel better soon. Chris Young did not get a QO so he would not cost us a draft pick. I would just as soon see Young join us because he is from here, wants to be here, hits well here, will bring interest from the community to the team, and it would be great if he could rebound from a down year in a fun environment.
      The team has burst my bubble that we will spend good money for big time players. It is beyound me how they are gonna go from the $20 million they have committed to the figure of $50 mil they have said they are willing to have in player salaries if they refuse to go after players who want baseball money.
      Let’s hope if they sign Young he doesn’t turn into Ankiel’s ghost returning to haunt.

      Like

  10. Becky
    November 15, 2013

    No………I really like Biggio, I just think Bags was a better player. Sometimes I think Biggio thinks he is more “indispensable” than he really is. Chris Young strikes out a lot, and maybe I’m just basing my opinion on how well he hits against US, but if he comes cheap enough………I’d like to see him in right next year.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 15, 2013

      I can see Bags over Biggio – but Cruz?

      Like

  11. Sandy
    November 15, 2013

    Can’t leave Bidge out. He will be our first HOF inductee.
    Biggio, Dierker, Wynn, Bagwell. And I agree with the honorable mentions of Judge Roy, Ryan, and yes, Cruz.
    What ever happened to Bagwell after the Hand Dr. debacle?

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      November 15, 2013

      Wait…what debacle?

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      November 15, 2013

      It’s too bad the hand doctor couldn’t have been a miracle shoulder doctor, or the whole shabang might have turned out differently. Astros win 2005 World Series, Bagwell is first ballot HOF and dumb doctor ends up a hero.
      Oh well, back to reality. Wait! Was that the sky falling?

      Like

      • Becky
        November 16, 2013

        1oldpro………NOW ……*that’s* funny right there!!

        Like

  12. Steve Shepard
    November 16, 2013

    I don’t understand why Lance isn’t getting more love here. All time Astros leader in OBP, SLG and OPS, 2nd in home runs, 3rd in runs and batting average.

    Larry Dierker’s all time Astros stats are virtually indistinguishable from Roy Oswalt’s and Joe Niekro’s, and he gets a huge nod for non-playing contributions.

    I’ll go with Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman and Dierker.

    Like

  13. 1oldpro
    November 17, 2013

    Ther’s a big lull here. Let’s talk about Carlos Correa.
    Where do you think he begins the year? Where does he end the year?
    How long before he hits Houston and what will he mean to the team when he gets here?
    What’s your favorite Correa stat from 2013?

    Like

  14. Bo Weaver
    November 17, 2013

    Longevity and consistency are factors that’ll permanently cement Bidgewell mugs; but general badassedness is not to be smirked at.

    Therefore, Mike Scott, Billy Wagner and JR Richard belong on Astros’ Mount Rushmore. Those three, during their prime, were simply the best of the best.

    Like

  15. Bo Weaver
    November 17, 2013

    For shame no other Billy Wagner references. I remember some years he’d have a ridonculous K/9IP rate over 14! Whaat? His lefty slider-fastball combo was simply unhittable. He was the best at his craft in 99 and 03, for sure. And nary a mention…

    Like

  16. Bo Weaver
    November 17, 2013

    Assuming Astros Mount rushmore has enough room for 5 mugs, that is.

    Like

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This entry was posted on November 13, 2013 by in Astros, Uncategorized.
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