Saturday, July 7, 2012

Don Wilson (#77)

Like Gary Nolan, Don Wilson was a notable rookie in 1967 that was not included in the 1967 Topps set.

Wilson was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, and pitched 3 seasons in the minors, making his big-league debut on September 29, 1966.

Don joined the Astros' starting rotation as a rookie in 1967, compiling a 10-9 record in 31 games. He was a top-4 starter in each of his seasons with the team (1967-74). Early on, Wilson was behind veterans Mike Cuellar, Dave Giusti, and Larry Dierker.

By the end of the 1960s, Cuellar and Giusti were gone, leaving Dierker and Wilson at the top of the rotation. 1971 was Don's best season, going 16-10 with 180 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA in 268 innings. He also made his only all-star appearance that season, pitching 2 innings. [Interesting note: both teams only used 4 pitchers in the '71 all-star game.]

Wilson tragically died in January 1975, at age 29 of carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident occurred at his home, and also claimed the life of his son. This was one of several deaths of current or former Astros players.

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