'Toy Cannon' Launched Rockets for the Astros

Jimmy Wynn was known for hitting long, long home runs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2020 8:30 PM CDT
'Toy Cannon' Launched Rockets for the Astros
Jimmy Wynn is joined by current players as he prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch after his jersey number was retired in Houston in 2005.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

Jimmy Wynn, the diminutive Houston slugger whose monster shots in the 1960s and '70s earned him the popular nickname “The Toy Cannon," has died. He was 78. The Astros said the three-time All-Star outfielder died Thursday in Houston, per the AP, but did not provide further details. Just 5-foot-9, Wynn was packed with power. He hit more than 30 homers twice with Houston, including a career-high 37 in 1967 at the pitcher-friendly Astrodome. "Jimmy’s success on the field helped build our franchise from its beginnings," the Astros said in a statement. "After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond." At the time of his death, Wynn worked in the Astros' front office as a community outreach executive. The popular Wynn often was seen around the ballpark interacting with players and fans alike.

Two long home runs became particularly famous. In 1967, he knocked one out of Cincinnati's Crosley Field, over the scoreboard in left-center and onto the highway outside the stadium. Three years later, he became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck of the cavernous Astrodome when he sent a pitch from Phil Niekro more than 500 feet down the left field line. Wynn spent his first 11 seasons in Houston, first with the Colt .45s and then the Astros before playing for the Dodgers, Braves, Brewers, and Yankees over his 15 years. Wynn left the Astros as the franchise leader in hits, home runs, RBI, and walks. Overall, he finished with 291 homers, 964 RBI, and 225 stolen bases in his career. His No. 24 jersey was retired by the Astros in 2005, and he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Astros Hall of Fame last year. In 2011, he was honored by the franchise when a modern baseball facility at the Astros Youth Academy was dubbed the Jimmy Wynn Training Center.

(More obituary stories.)

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