Houston Astros

Dickie Thon described it this way: “It was like a boom … a dead sound. Like a thud.”

Today, the boxscore reads HBP (hit by pitch) but, for Thon, it was more than that. The Astros All-Star shortstop had been hit by a pitch major league pitches four times prior to April 8, 1984. No. 5 — a fastball by New York Mets pitcher Mike Torrez — fractured Thon’s orbital bone around his left eye, changing his life and career.

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Ben ReiterSports Illustrated isn’t about to say, “I told ya’ so!” so I will …

Sports Illustrated told us so.

On June 30, 2014, SI published a cover story on the Houston Astros featuring the headline, “Your 2017 World Series Champs.”

At the time, the Astros were 36-48 in last place in the American League Western division. One year earlier, in 2013, the team finished 51-111. Considering the context, most baseball people thought the prediction was more than just bold, it was down right wacky.

So, what did Ben Reiter know that we didn’t? I sit down with Reiter to reflect on his 2014 Sports Illustrated cover story, that headline and how the Astros have evolved over the past three seasons.

Disclaimer: I had a couple hiccups with my recording equipment this week. You will hear that in Ben’s first two replies, but it quickly clears up. My apologies for the inconvenience. I hope you enjoy the podcast and I’d love your feedback. Thanks for listening!

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Dwight Gooden arrived at the Houston Astrodome long before his scheduled start — so early that he had to jump a fence to get into the ballpark. That’s what happens when you’re a teenager (19) on the day of your MLB debut.

Gooden wasn’t the only one excited about his first start. Davey Johnson was anxious too. From the first time he laid eyes on Gooden, at age 17 in Kingsport, Johnson was struck by his control and poise.

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Former New York Mets catcher Ed Hearn says he has a bag of baseballs in his cellar. They are all from 1986; all from the National League Championship Series; all evidence that Michael Warren Scott cheated.

The rumors started long before the NLCS. In May 1985, during one of Scott’s starts at Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs first baseman Leon Durham found a piece of sandpaper near the mound, “brand new, cut in a circle, big enough to hide in his glove,” Durham told the Chicago Tribune.

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