Photograph © Steven L.J. Russo
The Auburn Astros again took 1st place in 1986 going 44-32 (.579), only to have the St. Catherines Blue Jays deny them once again (a team that would eventually make Auburn their full time home). The 1986 team featured future Astros reliever Brian Meyer (5-2-10 Sv, 1.43) along with future 10 year MLB veteran Trenidad Hubbard (12 HR, .310) and future Astros’ Gary Cooper (16 2B, 11 HR, .313). It would be the last time that Auburn would get the chance to take the title back to Falcon Field for awhile as the 1987 Astros finished in 3rd place with a 39-36 record despite an awesome 10-4, 2.65 performance by Doug Royalty. It was the 1st double digits wins performance since Michael Colin and Paul Epperson had won 11 games each in the first year of Short-Season baseball. Richard Simon was also great going 8-2, 2.59. Auburn would rebound in 1988 going 42-33 due to the appearance of not one, but two future stars… the biggest that Auburn had seen since the early Mets/Koosman days. The first would start out slowly, playing for 6 years with the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs as a good quality outfielder before becoming a monster in Arizona where he would go on to become one of the best power hitters in baseball reaching his peak in 2001, when he slammed an Arizona record 57 homers in one season while batting .325. He would become a 5 time Major League All-Star and his name was Luis Gonzalez. For Auburn, Luis would bat .312 with 10 2Bs and 5 HRs en route to his star studded 19 year MLB career. The amazing thing perhaps is the fact that, Gonzalez wasn’t the best future MLB player on the team.