Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy Birthday - 11/7

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Joe Niekro (died October 27, 2006 at 61)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the third round in 1966, Niekro was purchased by Houston from the Braves in April 1975 for $35,000. He played for Houston from 1975 until his trade to the Yankees for Jim Deshaies in September 1985.

Joe Niekro played in 22 seasons, from 1967 to 1988, for a total of seven different teams.  For his career, Niekro was 221-204 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.319 WHIP over 702 games and 3584.1 innings pitched.  In 11 seasons for Houston, he was 144-116 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.264 WHIP over 397 games and 2270 innings pitched.  His most successful season was in 1979 when he was 21-11 and led the National League in wins.  1979 was an All-Star year for Niekro and he also placed second in NL Cy Young voting that year, behind Bruce Sutter and in front of 3rd place finisher J.R. Richard and his brother Phil in 6th place.

Niekro simply dominated in post-season pitching.  In the 1980 NLCS, he pitched 10 innings of shut-out ball in a game against Philadelphia which the Astros ultimately won 1-0 in 11 innings.  In the 1981 NLDS, he pitched eight innings of shut-out ball against the Dodgers in another 11-inning 1-0 win for the Astros.  In 1987, Niekro finally got his shot at a ring and pitched two innings for Minnesota in the World Series.  The Twins won the series and Joe got his ring.  For the post-season, Niekro had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.950.

Joe is probably as well-known for the emory board incident as anything else in his career.  For more on Joe, here is his Wikipedia page.  He died in 2006 of a brain aneurysm, and his daughter has established a foundation in his name to raise money for aneurysm treatment and research.

RHP Russ Springer (44)
A seventh round pick by the Yankees in 1989, Springer first came to Houston as a free agent in December 1996 and pitched in 54 games for the Astros in 1997 before being selected by Arizona in the 1997 expansion draft. He then came back to Houston as a free agent in June 2004 and pitched three additional seasons for Houston from 2004 through 2006. In 204 total games with Houston, he had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP. Springer pitched in a total of 18 seasons for 10 different teams.

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