History and nostalgia will be front and center for the Houston Astros in 2012, so it's only fitting that four of their most famous players from yesteryear were on hand Thursday to ring in the club's 50th anniversary celebration.
A large gathering of Houston media watched and listened as Jimmy Wynn (1963-73), Larry Dierker (1964-76), Jose Cruz (1975-87) and Craig Biggio (1988-2007) shared memories of their favorite moments during their tenure with the franchise.
Not surprisingly, the 2005 World Series was mentioned more than once. Biggio's 3,000th hit in June 2007 ranked high on many lists as well.
"We were the first Texas team to go to the World Series," Biggio said. "That was something to be proud of. And the 3,000-hit night -- it was a magical night."
Cruz, who was part of three playoff teams as a player and six as a coach, said, "I enjoyed my first playoffs in 1980. It was nice. But 2005 was the most important year for me."
Popular television announcers Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies hosted the question-and-answer session with the Astros icons in the FiveSeven Grille, which was decorated with images of the 50th anniversary logo and the jerseys from the past. Deshaies also interviewed several key Astros figures sitting in the crowd, including president of baseball operations Tal Smith, Spanish broadcaster Rene Cardenas, former radio announcer Gene Elston and current radio announcer Milo Hamilton.
In addition to Biggio's 3,000th hit and the Astros' World Series, Hamilton cited the 2003 club's six-pitcher no-hitter at Yankee Stadium as a highlight of his career.
"It had never been done before, and I don't think it will ever happen again," Hamilton said.
It was only fitting that Dierker, the Astros' manager during their run of four postseason appearances in five years from 1997-2001, was part of Thursday's news conference, considering it was the 47-year anniversary of his big league debut on Sept. 22, 1964. He turned 18 years old that day.
"I was 50 pounds lighter and a lot more nervous," Dierker joked.
In addition to interviewing franchise icons and revealing the 50th anniversary logo, the Astros also shared their plans for their season-long celebration of their golden anniversary.
Next season will feature commemorative 50th anniversary promotional items, and this weekend, fans will have a preview, as giveaway items for the Colorado Rockies series incorporate the 50th anniversary logo.
On Friday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a 50th anniversary cap, presented by Conn's. The first 10,000 fans on Saturday will receive a 50th anniversary blanket from AT&T, and a 50th anniversary T-shirt will be presented to the first 10,000 fans on Sunday, courtesy of BullShirts.
During Friday home games next year, the Astros will wear a throwback jersey that represents a certain era in the Houston franchise. Each month will highlight a jersey from a different era, beginning with the Colt .45s uniforms from 1964.
"We are especially excited to wear the old Colt .45s uniforms in April," promotions and special events coordinator Christie Miller said. "We believe it will be the first time we've played in this uniform since 1964."
"Flashback Fridays" will also include special ticket pricing, as well as pregame ceremonies, in-game entertainment and specially-themed Friday Night Fireworks, presented by Marathon Oil Corporation.
During all Astros home games in 2012, the official lineup cards, base jewels and official game baseballs will each feature the 50th anniversary logo.
Official 50th anniversary merchandise -- including a cap, polo shirt and T-shirt -- will be on sale at the Astros Team Store beginning in December.
The Astros, along with Major League Baseball Productions and A&E Entertainment, are producing a documentary program on the 50 seasons of Astros baseball with a DVD scheduled for release next spring. The film will highlight great moments in Astros history, including never-before-seen footage of historic milestones, and exclusive interviews with players that were key to the franchise's success.
In a tribute to all players in franchise history, the Astros will be inviting various former Astros and Colt .45s players to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to select home games throughout the 2012 season.
In 2012, fans and a panel of experts will vote each month on an all-decade roster that will include a roster from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000s. From each decade's roster, an Astros all-time 25-man roster will be determined by online fan voting at astros.com.
The Astros' all-time 25-man roster will be revealed the final home weekend of the 2012 season as part of Legends Weekend from Sept. 22-24, 2012. Members of the Astros' all-time 25-man roster will be invited to Houston to take part in a pregame ceremony and other honorary activities. Specific details on the events will be announced at a later date.
Alyson Footer is the senior director of social media for the Houston Astros. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.