HOUSTON -- What’s in a number? Well, quite a lot when they’re worn by baseball players. The wearing of a particular jersey number is something most players take very seriously, while some are just glad to have any kind of number below their name on a big league uniform.
The Astros have 10 retired jersey numbers, including Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 that was retired around baseball prior to the 1997 season. The last number retired by the Astros was the No. 7 worn by Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who actually broke into the Major Leagues wearing No. 4. And did you know 14 players wore No. 24 after Jimmy Wynn before the Astros decided to retire it in 2005?
So there’s little doubt who’s the greatest Astros player to wear No. 5 (Jeff Bagwell), No. 34 (Nolan Ryan) or No. 25 (Jose Cruz). But who’s the best to wear No. 10? Rusty Staub, Dickie Thon or Mike Hampton? How about No. 18? Joe Morgan, Art Howe or Moises Alou? And then there’s the No. 14 worn by Bob Aspromonte, Roger Metzger, Alan Ashby and Morgan Ensberg (sorry, AJ Hinch, managers aren’t included).
So let’s take a look at the best player to wear each jersey number in Colt .45s/Astros history (years each player wore the listed number in parentheses):
0 -- L.J. Hoes (2014-15): Following a trade in which he simply had to switch clubhouses while the Astros were in Baltimore in July 2013, Hoes hit .240 in 109 games and was traded back to the Orioles as the only player in Houston’s history to wear 0 (switching from 28) until Chase De Jong in 2020.
00 -- John Mayberry (1968): Taken with the sixth overall pick in the 1967 Draft, Mayberry wore 00 for four games in his MLB debut season and played in 105 games with the Astros (switching to No. 33) at the start of a 15-year career in which he made two All-Star teams with the Royals and hit 255 career homers.
1 -- Carlos Correa (2015-present): The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Correa was the 2015 Rookie of the Year and became entrenched as the star shortstop on a club that made the ALCS four years in a row, winning the World Series in 2017.
2 -- Alex Bregman (2016-present): Taken No. 2 overall in the 2015 MLB Draft (a pick the Astros received for not signing 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken), the third baseman was a key member of the ’17 World Series championship club and finished second in the ’19 AL MVP race.
3 -- Phil Garner (1981-87): Before becoming the first manager to lead the Astros to the World Series (in 2005), Garner played 753 games for the Astros in the 1980s, mostly at third base.
4 -- George Springer (2014-20): Springer, the team’s first-round choice in 2011, blossomed into the one of the most popular outfielders in club history, hitting 174 regular-season homers and a club-record 19 in the playoffs -- including five in a 2017 World Series in which he was named MVP.
5 -- Jeff Bagwell (1991-2015): Bagwell, who played his entire 15-year career at first base with the Astros, is the only player in club history to win the Rookie of the Year (1991) and MVP (’94) during a Hall of Fame career in which he hit a club-record 449 homers with 1,529 RBIs.
6 -- Cliff Johnson (1972-77): Johnson broke into the Majors with the Astros and hit .256 with 52 homers in 376 games at the start of a 15-year career which included World Series championships with the Yankees in 1977 and ’78.
7 -- Craig Biggio (1989-2007): A 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, Biggio -- who wore No. 4 when he broke into MLB as a catcher in 1988 -- holds club records in several categories, including games played (2,850), at-bats (10,876), runs (1,844) and hits (3,060) while ranking second in steals (414), RBIs (1,175) and walks (1,160) and third in homers (291).
8 -- Joe Morgan (1980): The Hall of Fame second baseman wore Nos. 12 and 35 when he broke into the big leagues with the Colt .45s, before switching to No. 18 in 1965 for the rest of his first stint in Houston, which included two All-Star selections. He switched to No. 8 -- Art Howe was wearing No. 18 -- when he made his return to Houston and helped the Astros win the NL West in ‘80.
9 -- Hunter Pence (2007-11): Before he won two World Series with the Giants, the outfielder was drafted and developed by the Astros, who traded him to the Phillies in July 2011 for four players as part of their rebuilding efforts.
10 -- Mike Hampton (1995-99): The bulldog competitor was the first Astros’ lefty to win 20 games (1999) and spent seven years in Houston, going 76–50 with a 3.59 ERA. (Hampton wore No. 38 in 1994 and No. 11 when he returned to Houston for one year in 2009.)
11 -- Ken Caminiti (1987-94, 1999-2000): A fan favorite, Caminiti’s solid play at third prompted the Astros to move Bagwell to first base. Caminiti hit 103 homers in 10 years in Houston, but is best known for winning the 1996 NL MVP with the Padres.
12 -- Doug Rader (1967-75): “The Red Rooster” won five consecutive Gold Gloves at third base (1970-74) and was the second person to hit an upper-deck homer in the Astrodome, in 1970.
13 -- Billy Wagner (1995-2003): A first-round pick out of Ferrum College in Virginia in 1993, the hard-throwing lefty saved a club-record 225 games in his nine years with the Astros, making three All-Star teams and finishing fourth for the 1999 NL Cy Young Award.
14 -- Alan Ashby (1979-89): In 11 seasons in Houston, the switch-hitter caught the second-most games in club history (behind Brad Ausmus), including three no-hitters, and he was released by the team in 1989 to make room for Biggio behind the plate.
15 -- Richard Hidalgo (1997-04): Hidalgo, whom the Astros chose to protect in the expansion draft over Bobby Abreu, slugged 134 homers in eight seasons in Houston, including a terrific 2000 season in which he hit .314 with 44 homers and 122 RBIs and a 2003 season in which he was team MVP.
16 -- Jason Lane (2005-07): Lane, who hit 26 homers and drove in 78 runs while helping the Astros to the World Series in 2005, was forced to change from the No. 24 he wore his first couple of years in the big leagues to No. 16 during the ’05 season after the Astros decided to retire Wynn’s 24.
17 -- Lance Berkman (2000-10): Perhaps the best offensive player in team history not named Bagwell or Biggio, Berkman’s No. 17 hasn’t been worn since he hit .296 with 326 homers and 1,090 RBIs and made five All-Star Games in a Houston uniform.
18 -- Art Howe (1976-82): Howe hit .269 with 39 homers and 266 RBIs in seven seasons with the Astros, bashing a key homer in a one-game playoff for the NL West title in 1980 at Dodger Stadium, and he later managed the club from 1989-93.
19 -- Bill Doran (1982-90): A steady, dependable and popular player for the Astros for nine seasons, he was named the team’s MVP in 1985 and ‘87 and posted a .729 OPS while manning second base for Houston throughout the ‘80s.
20 -- Tony Eusebio (1994-01): The stocky Dominican catcher hit .275 with 30 homers and 241 RBIs in nine MLB seasons, all with the Astros, along with a .375 average in four postseasons (he wore No. 10 in 1991) and a then-team record 24-game hitting streak (2000).
21 -- Terry Puhl (1977-90): The popular outfielder played 14 of his 15 Major League seasons in Houston, hitting .281 with 62 homers and 435 RBIs, and he had one of the greatest postseason performances at the plate in the 1980 NLCS, when he hit .526.
22 -- Roger Clemens (2004-06): “The Rocket” took the Astros to new heights when he followed Andy Pettitte to his hometown Astros, winning the NL Cy Young in 2004 and leading the league in ERA in ’05.
23 -- Enos Cabell (1975-80, ’84-85): A versatile utility player who was named the team’s MVP when he set a then-club record with 195 hits in 1978, Cabell batted .281 with 1,124 hits, 45 homers, 405 RBIs and 191 steals during his time in Houston.
24 -- Jimmy Wynn (1964-73): Dubbed “The Toy Cannon” because of his prodigious power for such a small frame -- he stood 5-foot-9 -- Wynn was the club’s first true slugger, hitting 223 homers in 11 years with the Astros, who retired his number in 2005.
25 -- Jose Cruz (1975-87): Cruz, regularly introduced by Astrodome PA announcer J. Fred Duckett as “Cruuuuuuz,” played 19 seasons in the big leagues, hitting .292 with 138 homers, 942 RBIs and a club-record 80 triples during his 13 seasons in Houston. His number was retired in 1992.
26 -- Luis Gonzalez (1990-95, ’97): Before he was putting up huge home run numbers with the D-backs in the early 2000s, Gonzalez began his career with the Astros and formed an up-and-coming nucleus with future Hall of Famers Biggio and Bagwell.
27 -- Jose Altuve (2011-present): There’s a strong track record, with sluggers Bob Watson and Glenn Davis having worn this number in Houston, but no one has done it with more distinction than the 2017 AL MVP, three-time batting champ and six-time All-Star.
28 -- Cesar Cedeño (1970-81): The team’s MVP in 1972, the five-tool outfielder played 12 seasons with the Astros and won five consecutive Gold Gloves, made four All-Star teams and holds the club record with 487 stolen bases.
29 -- Denny Walling (1977-88): One of the best utility players in club history, Walling played in more than 1,000 games with the Astros and hit .277 with 47 homers. He was the last Astros player to wear No. 25 when he finished his career with three games in Houston in 1992.
30 -- Luke Scott (2005-07): Kyle Tucker may find himself in this spot sooner than later, but Scott’s .881 OPS in three seasons in Houston gives him the nod.
31 -- Collin McHugh (2014-19): Picked up off waivers from the Rockies, McHugh went 58-35 with a 3.63 ERA in six seasons in Houston, winning 19 games in ’15 and posting a 1.99 ERA in relief in ’18.
32 -- Jim Umbricht (1962-63): The relief pitcher appeared in 69 games for the Astros before dying of cancer at the age of 33 in 1964. The Astros retired his number in ‘65.
33 -- Mike Scott (1983-91): Scott won 110 games in nine seasons with the Astros, winning the NL Cy Young and clinching the NL West with a no-hitter in 1986. He added 20 wins and a second-place Cy Young finish in 1989. The Astros retired his No. 33 in ‘92.
34 -- Nolan Ryan (1980-88): Ryan played nine of his 27 seasons with the Astros, going 106-94 with a 3.13 ERA and 1,866 strikeouts, while notching his fifth no-hitter and 4,000th strikeout in Houston. The Astros retired his number in 1996.
35 -- Justin Verlander (2017-present): Acquired in a last-minute trade at the deadline on Aug. 31, 2017, Verlander helped the Astros win the World Series that year, captured his second Cy Young in ‘19, reached 3,000 strikeouts and threw his third career no-hitter in Houston.
36 -- Joe Niekro (1975-85): The knuckleballer pitched half of his 22 years in the big leagues in Houston, anchoring their rotation from 1975-85. He won 144 games for the Astros, still a club record more than 35 years after he last appeared in a game in a Houston uniform.
37 -- Shane Reynolds (1993-02): Reynolds, who wore 38 when he broke into the big leagues in 1992, went 103-86 with a 3.95 ERA and 1,309 strikeouts in 274 games with the Astros.
38 -- Tom Griffin (1969-76): The fourth overall pick in the 1966 Draft, Griffin won 45 games in eight years in Houston and also walloped six homers, the second-highest total for an Astros pitcher behind J.R. Richard (10).
39 -- Bob Knepper (1981-89): The lefty went 93-100 in nine seasons with the Astros, making All-Star Game appearances in 1981 and ’88.
40 -- Don Wilson (1967-74): Wilson, who wore 23 when he broke into the Majors in 1966, went 104-92 over nine seasons in Houston with 78 complete games, 20 shutouts and two no-hitters. His number was retired following his death in ’75.
41 -- Brad Peacock (2014-20): Peacock, who wore No. 43 when he was traded to the Astros in 2013, spent eight years bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, going 32-30 with a 4.08 ERA plus a World Series save in 2017.
42 -- Jose Lima (1997-01): A fan favorite, Lima had two unforgettable years in Houston, going 16–8 with a 3.70 ERA in 1998 and 21–10 in ‘99 while making the NL All-Star team.
43 -- Jim Deshaies (1985-91): Before his broadcasting career, the lefty went 61-59 with a 3.67 ERA in seven seasons in Houston and tied a Major League record when he struck out the first eight batters he faced in a game on Sept. 23, 1986, against the Dodgers.
44 -- Roy Oswalt (2001-10): Oswalt had five top-five finishes in NL Cy Young voting, including back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2004-05 and an NL ERA title (2.98) in ’06. He won 143 games in 10 seasons with the Astros, finishing one behind Joe Niekro for the club record in wins.
45 -- Dave Smith (1980-90): Gerrit Cole had two stellar seasons, but Smith saved 199 games in 11 seasons for the Astros -- a club record until Wagner eclipsed him -- including a then-club-record 33 during his All-Star season in 1986.
46 -- Bill Dawley (1983-85): A reliever who went 22-13 with a 2.71 ERA and 21 saves in three years with the Astros, making the 1983 All-Star team as a rookie.
47 -- Larry Andersen (1986-90): A reliever who posted a 2.57 ERA and had 22 wins and 20 saves in his five years with the Astros, Anderson is best known for being the man traded to the Red Sox for Bagwell in 1990 in one of the most lopsided deals in history.
48 -- Vern Ruhle (1978-84): Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen, Ruhle went 39-46 with a 3.35 ERA in seven years with the Astros.
49 -- Larry Dierker (1964-76): Dierker made his Major League debut on his 18th birthday and won 137 games in 13 seasons with the Astros, making two All-Star teams and throwing a no-hitter while establishing franchise records for innings pitched, starts, complete games and shutouts. After leading the Astros to four NL Central division titles in five seasons as a manager (1997-99, ’01), his number was retired in 2002.
50 -- J.R. Richard (1971-80): One of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball for his era, the 6-foot-8 Richard won 107 games with a 3.15 ERA, 76 complete games, 19 shutouts and 1,493 strikeouts -- including 303 in ’78 and 313 in ’79 -- before his career was cut short by a stroke halfway through the 1980 season.
51 -- Wandy Rodriguez (2005-12): The steady lefty starter won at least nine games in each of his seven full seasons in Houston, finishing with 80 wins, second in club history among southpaws (Knepper had 93).
52 -- Wade Miller (1999-04): The starting pitcher won 58 games for the Astros, including a three-year stretch (2001-03) when he went 45-25 with a 3.61 ERA.
53 -- Cristian Javier (2020): Javier finished third in 2020 AL Rookie of the Year voting after going 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA and .188 opponents’ batting average in 12 games (10 starts).
54 -- Brad Lidge (2002-07): “Lights Out Lidge” ranks third on the Astros’ all-time saves list with 123, trailing only Billy Wagner and Dave Smith.
55 -- Ryan Pressly (2018-present): Pressly has posted a 2.19 ERA and 17 saves in his three seasons with the Astros, including an All-Star nod in 2019.
56 -- Joe Thatcher (2015): The reliever finished his nine-year career by appearing in 43 games for the Astros, posting a 3.18 ERA.
57 -- Darryl Kile (1991-97): No player has worn No. 57 since Kile, who went 71-65 with a 3.79 ERA for the Astros, including All-Star appearances in 1993 and ‘97 and a no-hitter in ‘93.
58 -- Dan Miceli (2003-04): Well-traveled reliever played for 10 teams, going 7-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 97 games for Houston.
59 -- Todd Jones (1993-96): Taken in the first round of the 1989 Draft -- a pick the Astros received for losing Ryan in free agency -- Jones spent four years in Houston and was 18-12 with 39 saves and a 3.27 ERA.
60 -- Dallas Keuchel (2012-18): A late-bloomer, the lefty wound up winning 76 games in seven years with the Astros, highlighted by his Cy Young Award 2015 season in which he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA, won a Gold Glove and started the All-Star Game.
61 -- Jandel Gustave (2016-17): Only three players have worn this number for Houston, including Gustave for 20 games.
62 -- Jeriome Robertson (2003): The lefty won 15 games in 2003 rookie season despite posting a 5.10 ERA and was traded prior to the ’04 season to the Indians for Luke Scott, winning only one more game in his career (he wore 60 for the Astros in ’02).
63 -- Josh James (2018): James get the nod for the 179 ERA+ he posted in six games in his MLB debut, plus points for appearing in two games in the ALCS (he switched to 39 in 2019).
64 -- Lucas Harrell (2011-14): Harrell went 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts in 2012 on an Astros team that won just 55 games.
65 -- Jose Urquidy (2019-present): Urquidy is best known for throwing five scoreless innings in a start in Game 4 of the 2019 World Series.
66 -- Kevin Chapman (2013-15): Only three Astros players have worn 66, including lefty reliever Chapman (58 games).
67 -- Vince Velasquez (2015): A second-round pick of the Astros in 2010, Velasquez appeared in 19 games for the Astros (seven starts) and had a 4.37 ERA before being sent to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade.
68 -- Jose Ciserno (2013-14): One of only four players to wear No. 68, the reliever had a 4.66 ERA in 33 games for the Astros.
69 -- Chase De Jong (2020): De Jong was the first Astros player to wear 69 when he wore it for three games.
70 -- Andre Scrubb (2020): Became the first Astros player to don No. 70 and posted a 1.90 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
71 -- Juan Gutierrez (2007): The only player to wear No. 71 before reliever Carlos Sanabria in 2020.
72 -- Humberto Castellenos (2020): Reliever made his debut in 2020 as the first to wear No. 72.
73 -- Gustavo Chacin (2010): In addition to being the only player to wear No. 73, Chacin -- who finished his career with 44 appearances with Houston -- is also the last relief pitcher in club history to homer, which accounted for his only Astros hit.
77 -- Ivan Rodriguez (2009): With his familiar No. 7 retired for Biggio, the Hall of Famer catcher initially opted for No. 12 and then switched to doubled 7s when he played 93 games with Houston.
99 -- Mitch Williams (1994): One of only two players (Rudy Owens) to wear No. 99 for the Astros, the “Wild Thing” posted a 7.65 ERA in in 25 games.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.