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Like the turbulent decade, this year was a tough read. It featured some of the top performances in club history and marks that would last more than 20 years but the Astros had to rally past the Mets to avoid finishing in last place. For the record, Houston finished in their now customary ninth place with a 69-93 mark. It was their sixth straight season with a winning percentage below .450.

From the beginning, the team had never really settled on a first baseman and wouldn't until 1972. On New Year's Eve, the Astros traded for third baseman Eddie Mathews, a great slugger with the Braves while in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Mathews wound up as the next Houston first baseman. He paid dividends on Opening Day as he helped the Astros beat his old teammates, 6-1, with two hits. On July 14th, Mathews would slam a three-run homer off Juan Marichal in San Francisco for the 500th homer of his major league career. At the time, only six others in baseball history had reached that milestone.

On June 7th, the Astros erupted for a 17-1 victory over St. Louis that has never been surpassed as the most lopsided win in club history. Houston banged out 23 hits, four by catcher Ron Brand.

Rookie Don Wilson, who had just one big league appearance before the season began, won ten games. None was more meaningful than the no-hitter he pitched on Father's Day against the Atlanta Braves. His feat on June 18th was the first no-hitter in team history to also be a shutout and the first to be pitched at the Astrodome.

Jim Wynn had his best season. The 5'-9" outfielder was noted not only for the frequency of his home runs but also for the distances. He blasted a homer out of the deepest part of Pittsburgh's Forbes Field on July 23rd, reaching a Little League diamond beyond the fence. In his native Cincinnati, "The Toy Cannon" launched a bomb at Crosley Field on June 11th that could have literally stopped traffic. The clip of that highlight has made its way into at least two Hollywood films.

Wynn delivered in the 1967 All-Star Game too with a pinch-hit single that was the first hit by a Houston player in the star-studded series. He set club records with 37 homers (2nd in the league) and 107 runs batted in (4th in the league), becoming the first in the young team's history to exceed 30 homers or 100 RBIs. Rusty Staub set a team mark for batting average at .333 (5th in the league) while leading the circuit in doubles with 44. Staub also singled at the All-Star Game.

Cuban-born Mike Cuellar became the ace of the pitching staff, winning 16 games. The lefthander threw two shutout innings at the Midsummer Classic. It was the first time in franchise history that the team had more than one All-Star.

After Mathews was traded late in the season, the Astros called up from the minors a fiery young redhead named Doug Rader who hit .333 in 47 games and picked up a hit in his first major league at-bat. The ballclub featured a lot of star material, but it was a case where the whole didn't equal the sum of their parts.

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
Crosley Field, Don Wilson, Eddie Mathews, Forbes Field, Houston Astros, Jim Wynn, Members of the 500 Home Run Club, No-hitter, Ron Brand, Rusty Staub

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