09/22/12 7:15 PM ET
Astros greats honored at Legends Luncheon
By Clark Goble / MLB.com
Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno, Craig Reynolds, Craig Biggio, J.R. Richard, Alan Ashby, Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Roger Clemens, Mike Hampton and Shane Reynolds took their seats and engaged with longtime Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton in a question and answer session after a barbecue lunch.
Most of them talked about missing the camaraderie that came with playing baseball together. Hampton revealed that he decided to play baseball instead of football because he was "Craig Biggio sized." Biggio, listed at 5-foot-11, then decided to walk over and measure himself against Hampton. They were the same height, drawing laughs.
All in all, it was an afternoon filled with stories about most of the critical moments in the first 50 years of the Astros.
Cedeno played his first 12 seasons with the Astros from 1970-81. He said that some fans in attendance at the luncheon told him about seeing some of his plays like they happened yesterday. In the Q&A session, one fan asked Cedeno about the time a ball hit a speaker near the roof of the Astrodome and fell in for a double.
"I guess it's one of the pleasures that you have being a player," Cedeno said. "Obviously, I did well enough that people still remember me. It's just a great thrill for me to be here."
Richard, who compiled a 3.15 ERA in 221 starts in an Astros uniform, said being named to the all-time roster last week was one of his most memorable honors since leaving the game.
"It makes you feel real good, because you get to remember being a part of a 25-man group, an elite company," Richard said.
He still gets excited when fans swarm him and talk about watching him dominate hitters.
"They still remember," Richard said, smiling. "It's good to be remembered."
Clemens was only with the Astros for three seasons, but he called those years in his hometown "special." He again refused to rule out a return to the mound and said he plans on helping the Astros in Spring Training in some capacity.
"I'm never going to shut the door on anything, because who knows what might happen? We had this opportunity [with the Sugar Land Skeeters] come up," Clemens said. "I'm not getting any younger and it's not getting any easier. Right now, I'm focused on a lot of other things."
Clemens said a couple of current Astros have texted him asking for tips on learning how to throw the split-finger fastball or the forkball.
"If I can pass some of that knowledge on to help them further their career, I'll do it," Clemens said.
Raffle tickets were sold for autographed cardboard cutouts of each of the 11 players on the stage. Proceeds from the raffle tickets and tickets for the luncheon will benefit the Astros in Action foundation.
The Astros also showed a 50th anniversary video highlighting the best moments from the 2012 season, including the back-to-back walkoff wins against the Brewers on Aug. 10-11.
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.