Forgotten Players Who Died Before Their Time



Jim Umbricht (33)

April 8, 1964

As an organization, the Houston Astros have experienced their fair share of tragedies. Even when the team was named the Colt .45’s, they were not immune.

Jim Umbricht was a baseball and basketball star at the University of Georgia. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed the right-handed pitcher. He made the team in 1960, but struggled early on. After being demoted that season to Triple-A, he was called up for the pennant run but saw limited action in September.

Houston took Umbricht in the expansion draft. That 1962 season, Umbricht, as a reliever, showed improvement with a 2.01 ERA. In 1963, it was discovered that he had a malignant tumor in his leg. Prior to the season’s start, he had the tumor removed and managed to pitch. In a sign of perseverance, he went 4-3 with a 2.61 ERA, but was not as dominant as seasons past.

Ultimately, Umbricht was diagnosed with lymphoma and passed away before the start of the 1964 season. His number 32 is retired by the Astros organization.

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