Response to The Tragic Death of Don Wilson
In the interest of fairness, an article about the death of Don Wilson was written that showed him in an unflattering light. A few readers thought that it was an unfair analysis of Wilson. Many different opinions were presented, but the following is the best of them.
Wilson loved Preston Gomez. The only time he was upset with Preston was when Preston pulled him from a game he was pitching a no-no, because the team was behind 1-0, and Gomez wanted to use a pinch hitter. When you think about, Wilson was on the verge of making history. He would have been the 2nd NL hurler to throw 3 no hitters up until that point. Didn't happen. Wilson cooled off in the trainers room, got his wits about him, and then came out and talked to the press, saying how much he loved and respected Gomez and his decision.
By the time Leo joined the club he was no longer the great managerial genius he once was. The players couldn't stand him. Larry Dierker despised him. The one incident with Leo that might have any significance was the time Leo fined him $300 and threatened suspension for calling Leo an "unflattering" name. You see, Leo wasn't sure he heard it correctly and asked Wilson to repeat it and Wilson repeated it numerous times to make sure he heard it. Wilson usually shot from the hip and told you what he thought. That's how he was.
Astros players from that era thought highly of Don, and thought he was a wonderful and kind man. What happened that night in January of 1975 was a tremendous tragedy. I remember it like it was yesterday. The police investigated it thoroughly but could not prove it was anything more than an accident.
The Astros waited a few months and gauged fans opinions before retiring his number in '75. It should be noted that didn't receive one peep of an objection from anyone. Houston fans wanted to remember how he lived, not how he died. I know. I was here in '75.
I leave you this quote from Doug Rader. Someone who knew Don well: “The most heartbreaking thing to me, the shame of it all,” said Doug Rader, “is that he had overcome his bitterness, and he was now again the man he used to be, the one I knew at first…I’ve heard all kinds of crazy things, rumors, about how Don Wilson died. I don’t care what anyone says, I’ll never believe he killed himself. He loved life too much. His death simply had to be an accident. I’d stake my life on that.”
So there you have it folks. We want to hear from you. If we get something wrong, or you just disagree with something, write to us. It is the goal of this website to represent the viewpoints of Astros fans as a whole and we hope that this will help everyone make an informed decision about which side of the story they believe.