Astros induct 6 into club's Hall of Fame

August 8th, 2021

HOUSTON -- The Astros inducted six more members into the Hall of Fame in an on-field ceremony prior to Saturday’s game against the Twins at Minute Maid Park. The players’ plaques will be on display beginning Saturday in Hall of Fame Alley beyond the left-field wall.

Here’s a closer look at the six members of the Hall of Fame class of 2020 (there was no ceremony last year):

Lance Berkman (1999-2010)

Considered one of the top five offensive players in club history, the switch-hitting Berkman joined Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio to form the core of the Killer B’s that helped take the franchise to new heights in the 2000s. Drafted in the first round out of Rice University in 1997, Berkman blasted 326 home runs and drove in 1,090 runs in his 12 seasons with the Astros while playing first base and the outfield.

Berkman hit .331 with 55 doubles, 34 homers, and 126 RBIs in 2001, and he finished third in the National League Most Valuable Player voting in 2002 by hitting .292 with 42 homers and 128 RBIs. He hit 45 homers and set a club record for RBIs (136) in 2006 and earned his fifth All-Star honor with the Astros in 2008 by hitting .312 with 29 homers and 106 RBIs. In the playoffs, he was a career .317 hitter in 52 career playoff games, mostly with the Astros.

As a safety precaution, Berkman was unable to participate in the Hall of Fame ceremony after a member of his family tested positive for COVID-19.

Cesar Cedeno (1970-81)

If he had been able to stay healthy, Cedeno might have been the best Astro of them all. Signed by the Astros at 17 out of the Dominican Republic, Cedeno made his debut in 1970 at age 19. He was considered one of the best players in the NL by 1972 and won five Gold Gloves and appeared in the All-Star Game four times as a member of the Astros.

Cedeno, who is the only Astros player to hit for the cycle twice, was a true five-tool player during his early days with Houston, leading the team in batting average three times (1971-73), hits twice (1971-72), home runs twice (1974, 1976), and RBIs twice (1970, 1974). He still ranks first on the team’s all-time list with 487 stolen bases and was the team's MVP in 1972.

“It’s just an honor to know that people still remember you when you were in your prime,” Cedeno said. “I’m glad people still remember a little cocky young fellow that played center field for the Houston Astros.”

Roy Hofheinz (founder, owner 1962-76)

One of the most important historical figures in the history of Houston and one of the men responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston, Hofheinz, known as “The Judge,” left an unforgettable imprint on the city’s political and sports landscape. Hofheinz, who died in 1982, graduated from the University of Houston law school at 19, was a member of the Texas Legislature at 22, and served as a Harris County judge at 24.

Perhaps his biggest contribution to the city of Houston was the acquisition of the first NL franchise in the southern United States, which began play as the Colt .45s in 1962. Hofheinz, his partner R.E. “Bob” Smith and several other influential figures brought big league baseball to Houston and laid out plans for what would soon become the Astrodome, which opened in 1965. Known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the first air-conditioned domed stadium changed the way sports was played and viewed across the country.

“I’m just so grateful he’s taking his place in his forever Hall of Fame, in a place that he loved, a team that he loved, a sport that he loved, people that he loved,” said Dene Hofheinz, the daughter of Roy Hofheinz. “This is wonderful. I know that he’d be very happy.”

Roy Oswalt (2001-2010)

A hard-throwing right-hander who came from Mississippi with a devastating curveball and competitive fire, Oswalt won 143 games in 10 years with the Astros and finished just one win shy of Larry Dierker’s club record. His signature game came in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS when he held the Cardinals to one run in seven innings to send the Astros to the World Series.

Oswalt broke into the big leagues in 2001 and went 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA for the Astros. He won 19 games in 2002, beginning a seven-year run in which he was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Oswalt won 20 games in 2004 and 2005 in a rotation that included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, helping the Astros reach the playoffs.

“Coming from a small town [Weir, Miss.] where I grew up and getting to come to a town of this size and getting to compete at the level you compete at, it’s tremendous to be able to be associated with some of the names up there,” Oswalt said. “I remember coming into this stadium my first year in ’01 and seeing Nolan [Ryan] and Mike Scott and all the names that were in the rafters. There’s a chance you could be up there, but it’s so far away you never think you can get that far along. To be in the same category as those guys, it’s something you dream about as a kid.”

Billy Wagner (1995-2003)

Despite standing 5-foot-10, Wagner’s 100 mph fastball from the left side made him one of the most feared closers of his era. He saved a club-record 225 games in his nine years with the Astros, making three All-Star teams and finishing fourth in the 1999 NL Cy Young voting.

"Billy the Kid" went on to save another 197 games for the Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, and Braves and became an All-Star four more times. He retired having built a Hall of Fame resume that included a staggering 11.92 strikeouts-per-nine innings and a .187 opponents’ batting average, both of which are by far the best career totals of any pitcher in MLB history.

“I didn’t realize it could possibly happen,” Wagner said. “I don’t think the Hall of Fame was ever even spoken about when we were coming up. I think the thing that stands out is when you look up there on the walls and you see the names of Hall of Famers and substantial people like Nolan, it’s humbling. What it means to me is I’m very fortunate. I played at a time where I had a lot of good players behind me and a lot of guys in front of me that got me the ball and made the plays. I’m very lucky to be here.”

Bob Watson (1966-79)

Watson was an intimidating slugger who bashed 184 homers in his 19-year big league career, 14 years of which were spent in Houston. He was a two-time All-Star for the Astros who hit for the cycle, walloped two home runs in the World Series for the Yankees, and scored baseball’s 1 millionth run while playing for the Astros. He hit 139 homers and drove in 782 runs in an Astros uniform while hitting .297.

Following his career, Watson became the first African American general manager in MLB history when the Astros named him to the post in 1993, and three years later with the Yankees, he became the first African American GM to win a World Series. He died on May 14, 2020.

“It’s an honor to have spent so much time and our entire lives in the family of baseball,” Watson’s wife, Carol, said. “Bob Watson gave us an opportunity to understand what it means to lean into the pursuit of significance. Bob always wanted to be a person of principle. He thought highly of the game, he put his best into the game and paid a price as many of our Hall of Famers have done with their families and time. He would have been happy.”