Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Houston Astros, a team entering their 50th year of existence in 2012, to Houston businessman and former Central Missouri pitcher star Jim Crane. Part of the approval process meant Crane is forced to move his team to the American League West Division.
Crane wanted the Astros to stay in the National League, where the franchise has competed since its inception in 1962, but MLB sees an opportunity to balance the leagues, putting 15 teams in each. As part of the Astros’ agreement to switch leagues, the sale price was cut from $680 million to $615 million.
The Mules baseball stadium is named after Crane who was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1997. Crane, a graduate of Lutheran North High School in St. Louis, was a dominant pitcher for the Mules in the 1970s. He had a four-year career record of 21-8 with an earned run average of 2.42. His best season was in 1974, when he helped lead the Mules to a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Tournament and was the MIAA Most Valuable Player. He was 7-2 that season with a 1.86 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 58 innings. In the Mules’ opening game of the NCAA Championship Tournament against Ohio Northern, Crane set the Mules’ single-game strikeout record of 18. That 1974 Mules’ team was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. Crane was an honorable mention All-America and first-team All-MIAA selection in 1974 and 1975. In the Mules’ baseball record book, he ranks second in career strikeouts (215), third in career wins (21), fourth in career earned run average (2.42) and fourth in career innings pitched (216). He is the only pitcher in Mules’ history to be ranked in the top four of those career categories.