Former Houston Astros players Lance Berkman, left, and Roy Oswalt, right, sign one-day service contracts as club president Reid Ryan looks on during a news conference before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Houston. Berkman and Oswalt signed the contracts so they could retire as Astros. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
HOUSTON— Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signed one-day contracts and officially retired as Astros on Saturday.
Berkman and Oswalt were drafted by the Astros a year apart and came up through the minors together before Berkman made his major league debut in 1999 and Oswalt followed less than two years later.
“It’s an honor to come back here and retire as an Astro,” Oswalt said. “Lance and I both came up through the organization about the same time. We got to play together for a long time. The best thing about Houston was that it was always home. I know I’m speaking for myself, but I went to Philadelphia, Texas and Colorado afterwards, but Houston has always been home.”
Berkman said it was special to play for an organization that had the tradition the Astros did.
“We all kind of felt like we were all part of the Astros family,” Berkman said. “That’s what made this, in my opinion, a special place to be. They made a conscious effort to draft guys, develop them and keep them here for a long time.”
As part of the pregame ceremony to celebrate the two players, a video played with comments from Nolan Ryan, Jake Peavy, Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols and former teammates Brad Ausmus, Andy Pettitte, Craig Biggio and Adam Everett.
Both players were given multiple standing ovations by the crowd at Minute Maid Park and presented with their framed 2005 World Series jerseys along with personalized rocking chairs and Stetson hats. It was also announced that the two Texas flags flying at the State Capital in Austin on Saturday would be framed and given to the two players.
Oswalt, the MVP of the 2005 NLCS, ranks second in wins and strikeouts in franchise history. Oswalt went 2-0 mark with a 1.29 ERA in the Astros six-game series win over St. Louis and was the starter and winner of the Astros’ Game Six series-clinching win at Busch Stadium.
Berkman spent 12 of his 15 seasons in the majors with the Astros after being Houston’s first pick in the 1997 draft out of Rice.
For his career, he hit .293 in 1,879 games with 366 home runs and 1,234 RBIs with a .406 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage.
Oswalt finished his 13-season career with a 163-102 record in 365 appearances — 341 starts — with a 3.36 ERA.
Oswalt, a three-time All Star, reached 20 wins in 2004 and 2005 and was a 19-game winner in 2002. After being selected by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft, Oswalt was called up to the majors in 2001, finishing that season with a 14-3 record in 28 appearances — 20 starts — with a 2.73 ERA.
“You always wonder when it will be your last year,” Oswalt said. “My goal when I first started was to play 10 years. I felt that if you play 10 solid years in the big leagues, you have had a solid year, and I got to play 13. I feel like some days I can still play. I didn’t want to walk away that way where you can’t play anymore. That’s pretty special.”