NORMAN — The Houston Astros, parent club of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, will visit Oklahoma City Monday, as part of the eight-day, 13-city Astros CAREavan tour.
Astros representatives scheduled to visit Oklahoma City include new owner and chairman Jim Crane, former pitcher and manager Larry Dierker and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton. Three of the top young Astros stars are scheduled to attend, including infielder Jose Altuve, pitcher David Carpenter and outfielder J.D. Martinez.
The Astros visit will include two private events at RedHawks Field at Bricktown, a VIP luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and an Invitation Reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
In addition, the Astros will visit the Mercy Health Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Tinker Air Force Base during the day. The final event of the day is an autograph signing at Academy Sports and Outdoors at 7700 South Walker Avenue from 7:15 - 8:15 p.m. The visit to Academy Sports and Outdoors is open to the public.
Jim Crane was unanimously approved by Major League Baseball owners as the new Astros owner on November 17, 2011. Crane is the CEO and President of Crane Capital Group, Inc., and works with the Crane Foundation, which contributes to local and national charities. In August of 2008, Crane formed Crane Worldwide Logistics (CWW), a premier global provider of customized transportation and logistics services. In March 1984, at the age of 30, Crane founded Eagle USA Airfreight (ECL, Inc.). The company grew from one employee to 10,000 employees with 400-plus facilities in 139 countries before the company was acquired in an LBO transaction in August 2007. Crane played college baseball at Central Missouri State University, posting a four-year record of 21-8 with a 2.42 ERA with the Mules. He is a native of St. Louis, Mo., but has lived in the Houston area since 1982.
Larry Dierker has over 40 years of service with the Astros organization as a pitcher, front office member, broadcaster and successful on-field manager. In 13 seasons on the mound with Houston from 1964-77, Dierker won 137 games, third-most in franchise history. He also dealt the fifth no-hitter in franchise history on July 9, 1976. After spending one season in the front office and 18 as a broadcaster, Dierker became only the sixth manager in Major League history to win a division crown in his first season. In five seasons as Astros manager from 1997-2001, the Astros won four division titles (’97, ’98, ’99, ’01). His 1998 team won a franchise-record 102 games, earning Dierker NL Manager of the Year honors. Dierker’s jersey No. 49 is retired by the Astros.
Milo Hamilton began his broadcasting career in the Three-I League in Davenport, Iowa in 1950, and now enters his 28th season as the radio voice of the Astros and his 58th season in the Major Leagues. He is the recipient of the 1992 Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and is also enshrined in four other halls of fame. Hamilton has been at the microphone for 11 no-hitters, Roger Maris’ 61st home run in 1961 and Henry Aaron’s historic 715th home run in 1974. Since joining the Astros, Hamilton called Nolan Ryan’s 4,000th career strikeout in 1985, Barry Bonds’ Major League record-tying 70th home run in 2001, and Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit in 2007.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was rated the No. 28 prospect in the Astros system prior to 2011 (Baseball America), but enjoyed a breakout season that included his Major League debut. After starting the season with Class-A Advanced Lancaster (52 G, .408, 5 HR, 34 RBI), Altuve moved on to Double-A Corpus Christi (35 G, .361, 5 HR, 25 RBI) before a promotion to Houston in mid-July. He stayed with Houston as the regular second baseman the remainder of the season, batting .276 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 57 games. Standing five-feet, seven-inches tall, Altuve was the shortest player on an active Major League roster in 2011. He is a native of Maracay, Venezuela.
Astros relief pitcher David Carpenter made his Major League debut with Houston June 30, posting a 1-3 record and 2.93 ERA in 34 appearances. Carpenter started 2011 with Double-A Corpus Christi, and following 14 appearances was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. With the RedHawks, Carpenter pitched 19 scoreless innings over 19 appearances with six walks and 21 strikeouts before the promotion to Houston. Carpenter started his career as a catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization before converting to the mound. He joined the Astros in a trade with St. Louis in August of 2010. Carpenter is a native of Fairmont, W.Va.
Among the organization’s top prospects entering 2011, Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez made his Major League debut with Houston July 30, batting .274 with 6 home runs and 35 RBI in 53 games. Martinez started the 2011 season with Double-A Corpus Christi, batting .338 with 13 home runs and 72 RBI in 88 games before the call to Houston. He entered the 2011 season as the No. 6 prospect in the Astros organization (Baseball America). Martinez played collegiately at Nova Southeastern University, and is a native of Miami, Fla.
The Oklahoma City RedHawks open the 2012 Pacific Coast League season Thursday, April 5 at 7:05 p.m. against the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) at RedHawks Field at Bricktown. Season tickets are on sale by phone at (405) 218-1000 or by visiting www.okcredhawks.com.