Homer Happy – Jim Wynn
The early Houston teams (first the Colts, then the Astros) were easy to overlook. They weren’t the worst of the expansion teams (the Mets owned that brand). And for most of the 1960s, they were best known for their domed stadium (baseball’s first).
While the early Colts/Astros featured a handful of outstanding pitchers, their best-known player was an outfielder nicknamed “The Toy Cannon.” Jimmy Wynn was a compact power-hitting center fielder playing in a stadium that was not power friendly.
A Cincinnati native, Wynn was signed by the Reds out of Central State University in 1962. He batted .290 with 14 home runs and 81 RBIs in his first season of minor league ball, and then was selected by the Houston Colt .45s in the 1962 first-year draft. He spent the first half of the 1963 season with San Antonio, batting .288 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs, and then was promoted to Houston, where he batted .244 with four home runs and 27 runs batted in over the rest of the season. He split the 1964 season between the minor leagues and the Colts, batting .224 with five home runs and 18 RBIs against major league pitching.
By 1965, Wynn was ready for full-time major league duty, and he responded by leading the team in hitting (.275), home runs (22), RBIs (73) and stolen bases (43). He was Houston’s leading home run hitter for six straight seasons from 1965 to 1970.
Wynn’s best season was 1967, when he finished second in the league in home runs (37) and fourth in RBIs (107). Both totals would be career highs while he played for Houston. He hit 26 home runs in 1968, 33 in 1969, and 27 in 1970.
Wynn slumped to seven home runs in 1971, but bounced back with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs in 1972. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973 for pitcher Claude Osteen, and had his last big season in 1974, hitting 32 home runs for the Dodgers with a career-best 108 RBIs.
Wynn hung on until 1977 and finished with 291 career home runs. He ranked among the top ten in home runs five times, and twice led the National League in bases on balls.
Wynn remains third all-time in home runs (223) and RBIs (719) among Houston hitters. He was an All-Star three times.