Originally created 12/16/06

'Heartbeat' of Astros retires



HOUSTON - Jeff Bagwell retired Friday after 15 years with the Houston Astros, ending a career in which he hit 449 home runs but was forced from the field after the 2005 season because of a shoulder injury.

Along with Craig Biggio, Bagwell led the Astros to four division titles and the team's first NL pennant in 2005. The 38-year-old Bagwell retires as Houston's leader in homers, RBI (1,529), walks (1,401) and extra-base hits (969). He finished with a .297 career batting average.

The four-time All Star and winner of the 1994 NL MVP award will remain with the Astros as part of a personal-services agreement he struck with the team this week. Bagwell is expected to work with hitters, assist in the front office and make appearances for the team.

"I had a tough time in those last four or five years in my shoulder. It took a lot out of me both on the field and off the field," he said. "This is a day that I knew was coming. I'm OK with it. I feel blessed to have known all of you."

Astros owner Drayton McLane praised Bagwell's contributions to the team on and off the field.

"Jeff has been the heartbeat of the Houston Astros," McLane said.

With a unique and unorthodox batting stance, Bagwell had remarkable power at the plate, ranking among the top 15 players in home runs and RBI throughout the 1990s. His career home run total was three behind his childhood idol, Carl Yastrzemski.

Former teammates and colleagues routinely described Bagwell as a "blue-collar guy" who accepted the fame and celebrity of his career only reluctantly.

"For as great a player as he was, he was also one of the most humble people I've ever been around," former Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "He really let his play do his talking for him."

A native of Boston, Bagwell was traded by the Red Sox to Houston in August 1990 for pitcher Larry Andersen.

STELLAR CAREER COMES TO AN END


Jeff Bagwell, considered the greatest hitter in Houston Astros history and the club's all-time leader in home runs and RBI, retired after 15 seasons.

Highlights


- Only first baseman in history with more than 400 HRs and 200 SBs


- One of six players to have 30 HRs, 100 RBI and 100 runs in six consecutive seasons.


- Four-time All-Star (1994, 1996, 1997, 1999)

Source: Major League Baseball associated press