Monday, December 19, 2011

DAHOF Top 100 -- #84 Jimmy Wynn

I saw Jimmy Wynn last summer during a pregame event in Houston. It is sad to see the powerful "Toy Cannon" walking with canes, but he was a great ballplayer.

His 15 year major league career started in 1962 when the Cincinnati Reds signed him as an amateur free agent. Shortly thereafter, he was selected by the then Houston Colt .45s in the 1962 expansion draft. Originally an infielder and made his big league debut in 1963, starting 13 games at short. However, he struggled defensively in the infield and was moved to center field, where he played most of the rest of his career.

For eleven years, he was a fixture in the Astros' outfield. A power hitter, he certainly lost a substantial number of home runs to the unfriendly confines of the Astrodome. In 1967, his 37 home runs fell just short of leading the league and stood as the club record for 27 years. He was traded to the Dodgers for Claude Osteen before the 1974 season. In Los Angeles, Wynn became an instant hit. His season started under the bright lights of Hank Aaron's chase for home run #715, and Wynn was playing center field when that historic blast was launched off of Al Downing. After a hot start, Wynn was named to the All-Star team he helped lead the Dodgers win the pennant by batting .271 with 32 home runs and 108 RBI.

For his career, Wynn batted .250 with 291 homers and 225 steals - and is considered by some the best center-fielder not in the hall of fame.

In 2005, his number 24 was retired by the Astros. Outfielder Jason Lane, who wore Wynn's 24 before the ceremony, changed his number to 16 in honor of Wynn.


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