Why Aren't There Any Books About the Astros?
Esquire recently published a list of the 20 best nonfiction baseball books. I have read most of these books, as well as lots of baseball books not listed. But the list got me to thinking. I've yet to come across a really good baseball book devoted to the Houston Astros. There are libraries full of books on the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Red Sox. There's a book about the Rays. Even the Rangers have a semi-decent book. But nothing's really been written specifically about the Astros.
There's a book about the Texas Rangers? Really?
There's Larry Dierker's memoir, but that's more about Dierker than the Astros. Portions of Jim Bouton's Ball Four detail his time with the Astros. There's a book about the 1986 Mets/Astros playoff series. Bill Brown has written a book about the history of the team, and various biographies touch on the stays of various players with the Astros. But otherwise, the literature devoted to the Astros is sorely lacking.
So I got to thinking on the topic and came up with these three books I'd like to see written about the Astros.
J.R. RICHARD AND THE 1980 HOUSTON ASTROS
The 1980 Houston Astros had a pitching staff for the ages. Hall-of-Famer and big-money free agent acquisition Nolan Ryan was only the number three starter. The ace and most dominant pitcher in the National League was the towering right-handed fastballer Richard. And this pitching staff was going to lead the Astros to the promised land, the National League playoffs, a place the Astros had never been.
The 1979 Astros had surprised the baseball world and led the NL West for most of the season before fading down the stretch. The 1980 squad added Ryan and former Astro Joe Morgan to the squad and looked to dominate. Instead, the squad battled the Los Angeles Dodgers for the entire season. But along with aiming for the playoffs, the team had to deal with adversity when Richard, dealing with an injury, suffered a stroke and nearly died.
Richard never returned to the squad, but the team regrouped and defeated the Dodgers in a one-game playoff to win the NL West. The Astros then took on the Phillies in a gripping five-game series that saw four of the games go into extra innings and featured controversial umpiring calls. The Astros led the series 2-1, and were ahead in the late innings of the fifth and deciding game with the great Ryan on the mound before falling to the Phillies.