HOUSTON -- At a press conference at FanFest on Saturday that was open to both fans and media, the Astros revealed full details of their Hall of Fame, which will open in Home Run Alley when the 2019 season opens in March."In 57 years of the Houston Astros, we've amassed
HOUSTON -- At a press conference at FanFest on Saturday that was open to both fans and media, the Astros revealed full details of their Hall of Fame, which will open in Home Run Alley when the 2019 season opens in March.
"In 57 years of the Houston Astros, we've amassed some incredible players and some phenomenal traditions," president of business operations Reid Ryan said. "We've never really fully embraced our history -- until today."
Two soon-to-be Astros Hall of Fame inductees -- Jeff Bagwell and Larry Dierker -- participated in the press conference, which included a question and answer session with fans. Also on the stage was Ryan, emcee Bill Brown and team historian Mike Acosta, who is doing the majority of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting to turn the Hall of Fame from a concept into a real, concrete dwelling.
"I really think everybody is going to be very happy with the look, the legacy of these players and broadcasters that are going to be immortalized on these walls," Acosta said. "It's going to be something special for many, many years to come."
The Hall of Fame will be open and ready for fans to enjoy beginning with the Astros' exhibition games against the Pirates on March 25-26, and the first induction ceremony will take place Aug. 2-4, during which inductees will wear a unique, tailor-made orange Hall of Fame jacket bearing the Hall of Fame logo near the lapel.
The inaugural class will include every Astros player whose number has been retired, in addition to the members of the Astros Walk of Fame on Texas Ave. The 2019 class is: Bob Aspromonte, Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jose Cruz, Dierker, broadcasters Gene Elston and Milo Hamilton, Joe Morgan, Joe Niekro, Shane Reynolds, J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Jim Umbricht, Don Wilson and Jimmy Wynn.
Beyond 2019, the Astros envision inducting one or two per year. A committee consisting of local baseball historians, front-office staffers, media members and Astros Hall of Famers has been formed to determine future inductees.
"There's always something in us when we play for an organization -- especially for myself, playing for one organization -- to be a part of something," said Bagwell, a 2017 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "This is a way to keep guys that played a long time and did great things here to be a part of something. From when [Dierker] played in the '60s to now, in 2019, there's tons of people. And we want this to be a family."
The Astros Hall of Fame, presented by Houston Methodist, will be located in the Home Run Alley area of the ballpark, and it will be renamed Hall of Fame Alley.
The club's goal is to someday -- several years from now -- build a separate building to house the Hall of Fame, similar to what the Reds have in Cincinnati. Until then, the Astros will focus on growing the establishment in its designated area inside Minute Maid Park, with induction ceremonies taking place around the same time each season.
The 2019 induction will include 16 individuals -- among them, Dierker, who pitched 13 years and remained with the club post-retirement, serving as a broadcaster, front-office staffer and manager. Dierker's No. 49 was retired in 2002.
"There have been a lot of great players -- maybe not in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame category -- but people that everyone who has been an Astros fan remembers fondly," Dierker said. "In my personal situation, with 139 wins, I'm not going to Cooperstown. And Roy Oswalt, who won more games than I did, and his number's not retired. Same with Joe Niekro. I think this gives us a chance to honor a lot of people with something that they can be really proud of."
The Astros are eager to honor not only the best players who impacted the organization, but also coaches, managers, broadcasters and support staff who left an imprint on the club's history.
"The organization goes back a long way," Bagwell said. "What Reid and Mike are doing -- You show this organization as a whole, not just separate little pieces. And they're all important to where we are today. A lot of what we have today wouldn't have happened if we hadn't started back at the Astrodome back in the '60s. And I think that's important for people to see."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.