The Houston Astros is a baseball team based in Houston, Texas, and they competed in Major League Baseball as a member of the American League West division. From 1969 to 1993, they played in the NL West division. From 1994-2012, they played in the Central Division before moving to the AL West to become a part of a minor realignment that happened in 2013. The Houston Astros plays their home games at the Minute Maid Park in Downton Houston, Texas, and the team is owned by a man named Jim Crane. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of the Houston Astros.
History of Houston Astros
The Houston Astros was founded in 1962, and they were initially known as the Houston Colt .45s, which is taken from the famous sidearm used in the west. At first, the team performed relatively weak. They always finished among the bottom three positions in the NL during their first seven seasons. The most notable happening during this period was the opening of their new home stadium, which is the Astrodome, and it was in 1965. The Astrodome was considered the world’s first multi-purpose domed sports stadium. It was even billed to be the ballpark of the future. The stadium’s opening became a national media sensation. That is why the Houston Colt .45s decided to change their name to become more identified with the newly opened stadium, that is why they are renamed as the Houston Astros.
In 1970, the Astros added outfielder Cesar Cedeno who achieved four All-Stars honors and became the team’s first superstar player. Aside from Cedeno, the team also recruited by another All-Star outfielder Jose Cruz in 1975. However, the team still remained relatively unsuccessful during the ‘70s.
In 1980, the Astros added pitching ace Nolan Ryan who helped them enter their first postseason. However, they got eliminated that year by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Houston Astros returned to the playoffs in 1981, but they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1983, the team acquired Mike Scott who teamed with Nolan Ryan to give the Astros one of the most daunting pair of starting pitchers in the NL. Three years later, the Astros gained another berth in the NLCS, but they lost against the New York Mets in six games.
In the remainder of the 1980s throughout the early 1990s, the Houston Astros became the middle-of-the-pack team. But in 1993, the team posted seven consecutive winning seasons. They also made three postseason appearances where the team was led by catcher-second baseman Craig Biggio. First, baseman Jeff Bagwell and the duo was known as the “Killer B’s.” The Astros’ got eliminated during their three playoff appearances in 1997 to 1990, even if they added the third “B” in their all-star line-up in 1999, Lance Berkman. The team was unable to progress any farther until the middle of the next decade.
In 2000, the Houston Astros left the Astrodome and began playing in Enron Field, which is later renamed as the Minute Maid Park. In 2004, the Astros managed to advance to the NLCS, but they lost to a seven-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The team finally had a modest amount of playoff luck after a year when they defeated the Cardinals in an NLCS rematch. The Astros earned a place in the First World Series. However, the team’s play soon fell off, and they entered a prolonged postseason drought. The Houston Astros had a series of low points when they set single-season franchise records for losses in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
In 2013, the Astros franchise was moved from NL Central to the AL West to create two 15-team North American major baseball leagues. After two years, the Astros was able to rebuild a squad that surprised the baseball world. They managed to add 16 wins to their total, and they managed to advance to the playoffs. The Houston Astros had built a young team that famously landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in 2014.
During the 2017 season, the Houston Astros made a laughable prediction by reeling off 101 wins and winning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series and bagged their very first championship. In 2019, the team set a new record with 107 wins, followed in the postseason, where they managed to capture another AL title and enter their third World Series appearance. However, they lost dramatically to the Washington Nationals.
Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal
In November 2019, The Athletic published an article saying how the Houston Astros electronically stole signs during the 2017 World Series championship season. Not long after the article was published, MLB launched an investigation. Commissioner Rob Manfred released his findings, and the MLB punished the Houston Astros for electronically stealing signs. The club fined $5million, and they also lost their first, and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. The team’s manager, A.J. Hinch, and GM Jeff Luhnow, were both given one-year suspensions from the league before they eventually got fired by the Astros.
What Did the Astros Do and What is Sign-Stealing?
The Astros used a camera and positioned it in the center field in order to steal signs during games. They had team personnel that would keep an eye on the feed, and he is posted in a hallway between the clubhouse and dugout. The personnel would relay what was coming to the hitter by hitting a garbage can.
According to the MLB investigation, the Astros first developed a system using illegal electronics to help them decode signs so the runner on second base would be able to relay the sign to the hitter. At first, the team tried clapping and whistling to send signs from the dugout before they settle on banging a garbage can. The MLB report says that the Astros has been doing this throughout the 2017 regular and post-season. They also done this early in 2018 as well.