Game to Remember: Jimmy Wynn

Game to Remember: Jimmy Wynn

Game to Remember: Jimmy Wynn
Astros outfielder Jimmy Wynn was in his prime in 1967.

The man known better at the "Toy Cannon" for his ability to generate incredible power, as well as strong and accurate throws, from his 5-foot-9 frame -- finished second to Hank Aaron in the National League home run race that season by setting a club record with 37 homers.

He hit three of those homers in one memorable game: June 15 against the San Francisco Giants in the Astrodome. When Wynn was recently asked what he remembered the most about that game, he had to pause for a minute.

"We won," he said.

Indeed, the Astros rode Wynn's power clouts to a 6-2 win before 21,264 at the Astrodome, which was in its third season of existence. The only other Astros player to hit three homers in one game in the Astrodome was Jeff Bagwell, who did it in 1994.

Game to Remember
Outfielder Jimmy Wynn was one of the early great Astros/Colt .45s.
Jimmy Wynn Facts and Figures
  1. Full name: James Sherman Wynn
  2. Game to Remember: June 15, 1967 (Houston 6, San Francisco Giants 2)
  3. Nickname: Toy Cannon
  4. Jersey number: 24
  5. Primary Position: CF
  6. Bats/Throws: Right/Right
  7. Born: March 12, 1942 (70 years old)
  8. Birthplace: Hamilton, Ohio
  9. Major League debut: July 10, 1963
  10. Years in Major Leagues: 15 (1963-77)
  11. Years with Astros/Colt .45s: 11 (1963-73)
  12. Other teams: Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Brewers
  13. Key stats with Houston: .255 batting average, 362 on-base percentage, 223 homers and 719 RBIs in 1,426 games
  14. Claim to fame: The 37 home runs Wynn hit in 1967 were not only second-most in the NL that year behind Hank Aaron's 39, but the total stood as a club record for 27 years. Jeff Bagwell surpassed the record record by hitting 39 in his 1994 MVP season.
  15. Did you know? Wynn hit one of the longest homers in Astrodome history in 1970. In fact, the mammoth shot he hit off Phil Niekro struck a chair in the upper deck, where few Astros ever hit a ball. The chair was painted in commemoration of the homer, with a picture of a small cannon.
  16. What's he doing now? Wynn is retired and living in Houston and is still active in the community. He serves as an Astros community outreach executive.

Wynn went 3-for-4 with three solo homers against the Giants, hitting his homers in consecutive at-bats in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings. He homered to left in the fourth and to left-center in the sixth off Bobby Bolin, and to left field in the eighth against Bill Henry. He grounded out in the first.

"You never think you're going to hit three homers in a game," Wynn said.

In its original configuration, the Astrodome was an extremely difficult ballpark in which to hit home runs. It was 340 feet down the foul lines, 375 to the power alleys and 406 feet to center field, and there was never a wind to help the ball fly out. Still, Wynn hit 97 homers in 678 career games in the Astrodome.

"When they built the dome, they built it like that because of the pitching staff we had at the Major League level and Minor League level and they didn't have many power hitters," Wynn said. "They built that ballpark for defense and speed. For me to hit a home run in the dome, it was a Godsend."

Wynn can only speculate how many home runs he might have hit if he played the majority of his career at Minute Maid Park.

"If I would have been in my prime like I was in '67 and had 37 homers and ballparks like Minute Maid Park, probably anywhere between 50 and 55," he said.

Wynn hit 15 homers at home and 22 on the road that year. He and Aaron were tied with 37 homers each with about 10 games left in the season, but Aaron wound up hitting 39.

"I remember [Willie] Mays, [Willie] McCovey and Richie Allen asking me, 'Jimmy, how in the world can you hit a home run out of that ballpark and we can't do it in batting practice?'" Wynn said. "I told them, 'If I knew, I would sell it to you.'"

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.