For 50 years Houston baseball fans have been treated to great memories at the hands of many great players. Astros legends Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn and Jose Cruz continue to represent the Astros organization in the Greater Houston community.
The 2015 season is Jose Cruz' 32nd with the Houston Astros, having spent five years as a special assistant to the general manager and the previous 13 seasons (1997-2009) as a coach for the Major League club. In his second year as a community outreach executive, Jose makes public appearances on behalf of the team and acts as an ambassador for the organization.
As an outfielder, the two-time All-Star had an 18-year Major League career, playing for the Cardinals (1970-74), Astros (1975-87) and Yankees (1988). Nicknamed "Cheo", Jose is an Astros icon and held franchise records in games, at-bats, hits, total bases and triples at the time of his retirement after the 1988 season. His 80 career triples remain the franchise record.
Jose holds the distinction of being involved with all nine of the Astros postseason appearances, three as a player (1980, '81 and '86) and six as a coach (1997-99, '01, '04-05). He was the Astros Team MVP four times and hit .300 six times in his career while stealing 317 bases.
Jose's uniform No. 25 was retired by the Astros on Oct. 3, 1992, along with former teammate Mike Scott's No. 33. They were the third and fourth numbers retired by the team. In 1999, Jose was selected by a panel of experts as one of the three outfielders on the franchise's All-Astrodome team. In 2003, he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jose and his wife, Zoraida, make their home in Houston and have four children: Jose Javier, Jose Cheito, Shakira and Jose Enrique. His son, Jose Jr., was the first-round selection (third player overall) of the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 June free agent draft. Jose Jr. graduated from Bellaire (TX) High School and attended Rice University. He led Bellaire to the number one national ranking by USA Today and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award while at Rice.
On May 19, 2002, the Astros retired the number 49 of franchise icon Larry Dierker. During more than 38 years of service to the organization, Dierker has served as a player, front office member, broadcaster and manager.
In 13 seasons on the mound with Houston from 1964-77, he won 137 games, second only to Joe Niekro in team history. He owns the franchise records for innings pitched, starts, complete games and shutouts. A two-time All-Star, Dierker pitched the fifth no-hitter in franchise history on July 9, 1976.
After one season in the front office and 18 as a broadcaster, Dierker became only the sixth manager in major league history to win a division crown in his first season. In five seasons as the club's skipper from 1997-2001, he won four division titles (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001), and the 1998 team won a franchise-record 102 games, allowing Dierker to earn NL Manager of the Year honors.
Jimmy Wynn spent the first 11 years of his 15-year Major League career with the Houston franchise from 1963-1973, the first two as a member of the Colt .45's. Despite his small frame (5'9"), Wynn boasted enormous power and a strong throwing arm, earning him the nickname "The Toy Cannon." He ranks among the Top 10 in almost every significant Astros career hitting category and led the franchise in hits (1,291), home runs (223), and RBI (719) when he left the club after the 1973 season.
In 1967, the slugging center fielder finished second in the National League in home runs (37) while posting 107 RBI. He also became the first Astros player to hit three home runs in a game. As a member of the 1974 Dodgers, Wynn smashed 32 home runs with 108 RBI, finishing in fifth place for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Wynn remains an active member of the Houston community and works closely with the Astros Community Relations Department and Astros in Action Foundation. His number, 24, was officially retired on June 25, 2005.