Retirement Of Former Astros Number Joe Morgan, J. R. Richard Long Overdue

By Joe Booker
Updated: July 14, 2005

HOUSTON, TX.—It was a good gesture for the Houston Astros to retire Jim Wynn’s No. 24. It should have been done earlier by the previous Astros organization before Drayton McLane bought the team.

Jimmy is not the only former Astros player whose number should have been retired long before Drayton McLane bought the team. Drayton is doing what other former Astros owners and staff should have done long before.

Jimmy’s number is not the only one that should have been retired long ago. Joe Morgan’s and J.R. Richard’s numbers should have been retired long ago.

It’s like first fired and last hired.

Drayton McLane must be commended for what he had done. He knows that he must clean up the mistakes that previous owners and staff did by over-looking Morgan and Richards as he did for Wynn and there should not be a campaign to do it.

Drayton should not have to be reminded to retire the numbers of Wynn, Morgan and Richard. There were no campaigns to retire Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Jose Cruz and Larry Dierker’s number. No one will have to campaign to retire Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio’s number.

It is embarrassing for previous Astros owners and front office personnel to over-look Wynn, Morgan and Richard.

This story is not about persuading the Astros to retire Morgan and Richard number. It should come from the heart as it was for any former Astros.

Morgan and Wynn should have been among the first to have their number retired.

Morgan was the first Astros to be voted NL Rookie of the Year (1965) and voted to the NL All-Star Game (1966). Prior to the time he was traded he was developing into one of the best second basemen the game has ever seen. He proved that the Astros made a big mistake when they traded him. He was the catalysis behind the Cincinnati Red’s Big Red Machine that dominated baseball in the mid and late 70s.

“I learned everything I knew about baseball as an Astro,” said Morgan when he was in Houston for the recognition of the 1980 Astros team and to pay tribute to his former teammate Jim Wynn’s number retirement ceremony.When I got to Cincinnati I knew how to play the game. I reminded my teammates at Cincinnati that I had done everything as an Astro that I did here. I was an All-Star and I stole bases.”

Morgan was slighted at the 1986 All-Star Game in Houston when former Astro Rusty Staub was named Honorary All-Star Captain over him. Staub never made the All-Star team as an Astro and Morgan made it twice before going to Cincinnati and dominating the All-Star Game as a second baseman.

During the time that Morgan played for the Astros he was outspoken and sometimes it rubbed some Astros staff the wrong way, especially manager Harry Walker, who allegedly had a reputation of not getting along with blacks. It was also alleged that his being outspoken is the reason he was traded. Morgan became a Hall of Fame player and Walker became a Hall of Shame Astros manager.


  • First Astro to be voted NL Rookie of the Year (1965)
  • First Astro to be voted to the NL All-Star Team ( 1966)
  • Holds the record for seven consecutive hits in a game ( 1969)
  • First former Astro to be voted into Baseballfs Hall of Fame
  • First former Astro to have his number retired(Reds)
  • One of three players to hit safely in 7 consecutive All-Star Games.
  • Only former Astros to be voted NL MVP
  • Only former or current Astro to be voted All-Star Game MVP ( 1972)

James (J.R.) Richard was one of the most dominating pitchers the game has ever known. At 6-8, 250 pound J.R. intimidated would be hitters with his 100-miles an hour fast balls before a stroke ended a sure Hall of Fame career in 1980. He was the Astros top pick in the draft in 1969, and the second pick overall. Only two other Astros have been drafted higher.

“That’s all in the past,” said J.R.We can only look toward the future. You can’t control what happened in the past.”

The future for J.R. should be seeing his famous number 50 hanging in the rafter at Minute Maid Park. There have been several players who were with the team for a short period of time that have had their numbers retired that did not perform up to the standards as J.R

No Astro has ever struck out 303 batters in a season. No former Astro has more shutouts (14) in a season than J.R. He did it twice.

J.R. would probably still hold almost every individual pitching record if his career had not ended so soon. Even though his career was shorten, he continues to rank among the top pitchers statistically in team history.

One of the biggest highlights of his career was in 1978,when he became the first righhand pitcher in the National League to strikeout 300 batters when he struckout,303.


  • Holds Astros single season strikeout record with 313, 1979
  • Was first NL right-handed pitcher to strikeout 300 or more batters in a season in 1978 when he struck out, 303
  • Voted team MVP in 1976
  • Most shutout games in a season (14, twice) by an Astro.
  • Second behind Jerry Reuss (40) with 39 starts in a season.
  • Second behind Larry Dierker (20) with 19 complete games in a season.
  • Second behind Dierker (305) with 291 innings pitched in a season.
  • He is among 7 former Astros to win 20-games in a season.
  • He is number two with 1493 career strikeouts.