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Astros Owners

Known to many throughout Houston as "The Judge", Roy Hofheinz was, and continues to be, one of the most important characters in the history of the Astros and of Houston as a whole. Graduating from the University of Houston Law School by age 19, the "Boy Mayor" quickly became the youngest county administrator in the state by age 23. While "The Judge" did play significant legal, political and business-related roles throughout his career, perhaps his biggest contribution to the city of Houston was the acquisition of the first National League franchise in the southern United States. Hofheinz, his partner R.E. "Bob" Smith, and several other influential figures secured the rights to Houston's first Major League Baseball franchise and laid out plans for what would soon become the Astrodome.

Hofheinz was a vital member in almost every aspect of Houston's new baseball franchise, ranging from designing the stadium to securing the funds for the new franchise. Under his leadership and unique vision, the city of Houston constructed two large baseball stadiums: the temporary Colt Stadium and the Astrodome. Hofheinz's enthusiasm spread throughout Houston as the Colt .45s played their inaugural season in 1962 and fans flocked to the new Colt Stadium. While proud to have had a successful season in Houston, Hofheinz's dream was finally realized with the introduction of the Astros and the Astrodome in December of 1964. Hofheinz unveiled what some were calling the "Eighth Wonder of the World" in 1965, and his true passion for this magnificent structure radiated through media outlets as fans packed the new stadium during its first season in 1965. The Judge's vision had come to life as the Astrodome featured bright colors, a larger-than-life scoreboard, and the invention of luxurious sky boxes. Hofheinz routinely hosted movie stars, government officials and a variety of celebrities as everyone was eager to see the futuristic stadium.

Hofheinz continued to develop the area around the stadium adding a theme park and various hotels. He also continued to be the Astrodome's biggest promoter, consistently updating media outlets about stadium upgrades, events and anniversaries. He was one of the key members in the introduction of an artificial playing surface in the Astrodome now referred to as "AstroTurf". While the Astros had little on-field success during Hofheinz's time as owner of the Astros, his vision created an excitement for baseball in Houston that laid the foundation for the great success of the franchise.

Between 1975 and 1979, Astros ownership had transitioned from original owner Roy Hofheinz to Ford Motor Company Credit. In 1979, Dr. John McMullen agreed to purchase the Astros and would own the team from 1979-1992. McMullen's arrival was celebrated in Houston as fans knew that this meant the Astros could once again compete in free agency after seasons of consistent frugality with the Ford Motor Company Credit at the helm. McMullen's period of ownership was a great one for the Astros that included moments of brilliance including the team's first ever playoff appearance in 1980 and the acquisition of future Astros legends Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

Dr. John McMullen's career began in the Navy, where he rose to the rank of commander during a 15-year career. He then proceeded to earn his master's degree in naval architecture and engineering at MIT before receiving his doctorate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In 1959, McMullen started his own company, John J. McMullen Associates, and found much success within the commercial and naval ship design industries. That allowed him to pursue ownership in professional sports. McMullen first entered the sports industry as a limited owner for the New York Yankees and is known for once declaring, "There is nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner's." McMullen also purchased a professional hockey team known as the Colorado Rockies and moved them to the east coast where they would become the New Jersey Devils. McMullen's presence would be crucial to their two Stanley Cup victories in 1995 and 2000.

Not only was McMullen's presence in Astros ownership valuable in terms of the product on the field, McMullen also played a crucial role in keeping the Astros in Houston. Things had taken a turn for the worse after Hofheinz left the team in 1975 and McMullen could easily have moved the team elsewhere. However, he decided to keep the team with its fans in Houston and ran a first-class organization for years until he sold the team to Drayton McLane, Jr. in 1992. Although McMullen didn't always fit the southern easy-going style in Houston, those within the organization including players Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell considered him to be a father figure, mentor and a great man.

Drayton McLane grew up in Cameron, Texas, and served much of his youth sweeping floors and working in the family grocery business. McLane attended Baylor University, where he earned his undergraduate degree on his way to an MBA in marketing from Michigan State University. McLane then returned home, where he helped to transform the small family grocery business into an ultra-effective grocery distribution enterprise that netted over $19 billion a year. McLane furthered his success with the McLane group enterprise and was able to purchase the Houston Astros for $115 million in 1992.

McLane's philosophy upon becoming the Astros Chairman and CEO was "to be a champion, and to make a positive difference in the community." McLane found genuine success in both of these areas throughout his time with the Astros. On the field, the Astros reached the postseason in six of McLane's 19 seasons after having reached the playoffs only three times in the first 31 years of the franchise. McLane and the Astros franchise had their greatest success in 2005, when the Astros reached the World Series for the first time in team history. The Astros hosted the first-ever World Series game in Texas after defeating the Cardinals to win their first National League pennant.

Off the field, McLane oversaw the completion of Minute Maid Park, Houston's downtown, retractable roof stadium. McLane also played a vital role in the establishment of the Astros in Action Foundation, which was created in 2000 and has dispersed over $5 million throughout the Houston region. Various members of the Astros organization, including McLane, regularly attended charity events, visited children's hospitals and hosted underprivileged children at the ballpark. McLane himself served on various committees and boards including the Greater Houston Partnership and the United Way. Further showcasing his desire to make a positive difference in the community, McLane led the change in helping raise a combined $1 million donation to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund in 2008.

McLane has been recognized with several awards and honors for his work with both the Astros and in the Houston community. In 2001, McLane and the Astros organization were tabbed as the Organization of the Year by four different outlets, including Baseball America and Baseball Weekly. McLane was also awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2008. That honor is given to executives who have shown a deep concern for the common good beyond the bottom line.

On May 16, 2011, Jim Crane agreed in principal to purchase the Astros franchise from Drayton McLane, Jr. for $680 million, the second-highest selling price in Major League History. The deal was unanimously approved by MLB owners on Nov. 17, 2011. Before purchasing the Astros, Crane enjoyed success with a variety of local, national and international businesses and seized the opportunity to become the owner of Houston's professional baseball franchise. Growing up as a baseball fanatic near St. Louis, Crane had a passion for the game of baseball. He played college baseball for the University of Central Missouri, where he was an honorable mention All-American in Division II baseball.

Crane's successful background in Houston began in 1984, when he used $10,000 borrowed from his sister to establish an air freight logistics business called Eagle USA Airfreight. This small company (now EGL, Inc.) took off and soon became a global power merging with a UK-based logistics firm. Crane's success was further heightened with the creation of the Crane Capital Group, which he used to invest in a variety of companies. The success within the Crane Group and its investments allowed Crane to make a successful bid for the Astros.

With only a few months of ownership under his belt, Crane made an early impression with fans announcing new, fan-friendly initiatives and demonstrating his openness to improving the fan experience. His commitment to the fans and building the best farm system in baseball will be the goals to achieve sustained success in Major League baseball.