Steven L.J. Russo welcoming the Auburn Astros - Photograph © Steven L.J. Russo
With the fanbase of Auburn finally having enough of the bad teams and lack of Major League involvement, Falcon Park decided not to field a team at all for the 1981 season. For the first time since it joined the league in 1958, Falcon Park would dark for the entire season. Things looked about as bad at Falcon Park as they could be, and many wondered if the little wooden 3 sectioned ballpark from 1927 would ever see pro-ball again. They would... as 1982 brought a new franchise to Auburn and unlike any previous team, they would bring such tremendous loyalty to this little upstate New York town… 2 decades worth in fact. No more co-ops… no more not knowing if the team would ever return. 19 years of Astros baseball was coming to Auburn. It didn’t take long for the fans to appreciate the situation and even though it would take a year for the team to become competitive, they showed their appreciation by quadrupling their attendance from 1980, coming out to the tune of 38,000 strong. The new Auburn Astros were decent enough in comparison to what the city had to look at over the past 7 seasons, going 35-39 (.473) just 4 games under .500. It was a step in the right direction and they featured a few power hitters including the future Houston Astros’ Mark Bailey (10 2B, 11 HR, .300), Bruce Castoria (16 2B, 11 HR, .218) and Mike Stellern (9 2B, 9 HR, .329). Rex Schimpf (7-2, 2.85) and Mike Hogan (5-2, 1.82) provided some excellent starting pitching as well.