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Former Houston Astros star Jimmy 'The Toy Cannon' Wynn dies at 78

Former Houston Astros star Jimmy Wynn, pictured here in 2006, served as an ambassador for the franchise after his long major league playing career. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Former Houston Astros star Jimmy Wynn, pictured here in 2006, served as an ambassador for the franchise after his long major league playing career. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 27 (UPI) -- Former Houston Astros star outfielder Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn, who played for five Major League Baseball teams over 15 seasons, has died at the age of 78.

The Astros said Wynn died Thursday in Houston, but did not specify a cause. Wynn played for the Astros for 11 years before leaving to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He retired after the 1977 season.

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"Today, we lost a very big part of the Astros family with the passing of Jimmy Wynn," the Astros said in a statement Thursday. "His contributions to our organization both on and off the field are too numerous to mention.

"As an All-Star player in the 1960s and 70s, Jimmy's success on the field helped build our franchise from its beginnings. After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Marie, daughter, Kimberly, son, James, Jr., to the other members of his family and to his many fans and admirers."

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Born March 12, 1942, in Hamilton, Ohio, Wynn attended Taft High School in Cincinnati before going to Central State University in Wilberforce, near Dayton. The Cincinnati Reds signed a 19-year-old Wynn in 1962 but left his rights unprotected during the Winter Draft that year, allowing the Houston Colt .45s to acquire his services. Wynn made his MLB debut in 1963 for the Colt .45s, who were re-branded the Astros two years later.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound outfielder hit 291 career home runs in 1,920 games during his Major League Baseball tenure. Wynn was an All-Star in 1967, 1974 and 1975, and finished fifth in the 1974 MVP race after notching 32 home runs and 108 RBIs for the Dodgers. He hit a career-high 37 home runs and 107 RBIs during his 1967 campaign with the Astros. Wynn hit at least 20 home runs for eight seasons.

Wynn became known as the "Toy Cannon" due to his short stature and hitting strength. He owned the Astros' franchise record for home runs until he was surpassed in 1999 by Jeff Bagwell. The club retired Wynn's jersey No. 24 in 2005, and he served as an ambassador for the Astros and was active in the team's community outreach efforts. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Astros Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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