With the announcement on Monday that Drayton McLane had reached an agreement to sell the club to Houston businessman Jim Crane, the Astros will, pending approval by MLB owners, have their fifth steward since entering the Major Leagues as an expansion team in 1962.
1962-75, Judge Roy Hofheinz
The former Houston mayor and state politician brought big league baseball to Houston, with the original Colt .45s, and by overseeing the building of the Harris County Domed Stadium in 1965 -- later known as the Astrodome, which led to the club's new nickname. The dome was world-class and the first of its kind, taking its moniker in honor of the city's contribution to the country's space program. On April 8, 1966, more than 50,000 people saw Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers down the Astros, setting an attendance mark that stood for 22 years. In '67, three years after Ken Johnson fired a no-hitter in a losing effort, Houston righty Don Wilson pitched a no-no against Hank Aaron and the Braves. The era also became known for the '71 trade that sent five players -- including up-and-coming second baseman Joe Morgan -- to the Reds. In 1972, the Astros finished in second place -- behind those Reds -- putting up the club's best record to date, 84-69, with Jerry Reuss hurling a no-hitter during the campaign.
1975-79, GE Credit and Ford Motor Credit
With the club facing debt troubles related to the construction of the Astrodome, control of the team and the facility were passed to creditors interested in preserving the assets. Soon thereafter, Houston saw its first 20-game winner (J.R. Richard) and a new stolen-base leader (Cesar Cedeno, with 58) in 1976. Richard went on to strike out 303 in '78, becoming the first right-handed National Leaguer to reach the 300-strikeout plateau.
1979-93, John McMullen
The former naval architect and engineer helped lead the Astros to a strong campaign right off the bat, as they finished in second place in the NL West in '79, just half a game back of the Reds, as skipper Bill Virdon was named Manager of the Year. McMullen helped lead the franchise into a new era of winning -- the club captured the NL West crown in 1980 and '86. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan tossed his Major League record fifth no-hitter in '81, while posting a 1.69 ERA. In 1983, the team sputtered to an 0-9 start before rebounding for an 85-77 season, the third-highest win total in club history. Ryan continued to rewrite the record books for wins and strikeouts in Houston through the 1980s, while Mike Scott put together a sturdy career of his own, winning the club's first Cy Young Award in '86. By the end of McMullen's tenure, the team was saying hello to future stars Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.
1993-present, Drayton McLane
With chatter of the team relocating due to discontent with the Astrodome, the organization changed hands, and McLane was intent on keeping baseball in Houston. After taking home the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1991, Bagwell became the first Astros player to win MVP honors in '94. Houston fell just short of the playoffs in '95 and '96, and things got even better soon after, as the club won NL Central division titles the following three years to bid farewell to the Astrodome in style. McLane helped usher the club into Minute Maid Park (then Enron Field) in 2000, where a club record 3,056,139 fans saw baseball that year. Houston clinched its fourth division title in five years in 2001 before breaking through to the World Series in '05. Bagwell retired after that storybook season, never having donned another uniform, and Biggio followed suit in 2007.
McLane announced that he had reached a definitive agreement with a group headed by Crane for the sale of the Astros club and its share in Comcast Sports Net Houston. McLane and Crane officially signed the agreement at Minute Maid Park. The sale of the ballclub will be finalized once it is approved by Major League Baseball ownership.