Photograph © Steven L.J. Russo
The step up continued in 1983 as the Auburn Astros finally brought Falcon Park well over .500. The A-Astros would finish 43-31 (.581) behind the hitting of Jim O’Dell (9 HR, .318) and future Astros’ Robbie Wine (15 2B, 4 HR, .242) and the pitching of Charles Matthews (7-3, 2.82) and Mike Friedrich (6-2, 1.79). To show that their appreciation for the Astros taking control of the situation and bringing excellent quality baseball back to Auburn, a very impressive 55,000 fans showed up to Falcon Park. They would take a step back in 1984 with Peter Mueller (14 2B, 13 HR, .262) providing the only interesting talent on the team as they dropped down to even out at .500 but by 1985 they Auburn Astros were back in 1st place for the 1st time since 1973 (47-31, .603) behind the pitching of Blaise Ilsley (9-1, 1.40) who took over the Mark Whiley’s 1.49 ERA title (though not beating Jerry Koosman’s Full Season 1.38). Tim Arnsberg (5-1, 2.28) also contributed on the mound and Richard Johnson (10 2B, 12 HR, .313) did the same at the plate. Unfortunately the Auburn Astros would have to take on the Oneonta Yankees who took over total domination of the NY-Penn League after Auburn had held that title for 12 years. With a very young 19 year old Al Leiter on the mound, Oneonta plowed through Auburn to steal the title away from them. Something they had done 9 times in the past 18 years.