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.
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. Celebrated everywhere he went, Wynn often was seen around the ballpark interacting with players and fans alike.
Wynn became known for his long home runs and two became particularly famous.
The first came on June 10, 1967, when he knocked one out of Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, over the scoreboard in left-center and onto the highway outside of the stadium.
Almost three years later, on April 12, 1970, 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 with the Astros before making stops with the Dodgers, Braves, Brewers and Yankees in a 15-year major league career.
Wynn left the team as the franchise leader in hits, home runs, RBIs and walks. Overall, he finished with 291 homers with 964 RBIs and 225 stolen bases in his career.
He led the majors with 148 walks in 1969 and stole a career-high 43 bases in 1965. Wynn scored 100 runs or more three times with Houston.
Wynn’s No. 24 jersey was retired by the Astros on June 25, 2005, and he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Astros Hall of Fame on Aug. 3, 2019.
In June 2011, he was honored by the franchise when the Astros and Minute Maid dedicated the Jimmy Wynn Training Center, a state-of-the-art baseball facility at the Astros Youth Academy.
Born in Cincinnati on March 12, 1942, Wynn grew up there before attending Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He made his MLB debut on July 10, 1963, at 21 and hit four homers with 27 RBIs in 70 games that season.
Wynn had the first of his eight 20-HR seasons in 1965 when he hit 22. He hit 33 homers in 1969 with Houston and his last 30-home run season came in 1972 when he slugged 32 and had a career-high 108 RBIs for the Dodgers.
Wynn played in his only World Series in 1974 and homered for the Dodgers in a five-game loss to Oakland.