It had begun to look as if 1966 might be the year the Flea didn’t get a call. But something happened – something bad – and as has been the case every year Houston has been in the National League, Bob Lillis went on the field to take over a job.
This year, it was the cracked knee cap Joe Morgan suffered on June 25 that created the need for the Flea, the nickname given him by his teammates long ago because of his size. Lillis has never started the season assured of a regular job with the Houston club. But is 1962, .63 and .65, he became the regular shortstop somewhere along the line. This season, it appeared it might be different with Sonny Jackson and Joe Morgan doing a great job around the keystone. With the halfway mark approaching, Lillis had been to bat only 20 times. Then the blow hit. Houston won its first game with Morgan out of the lineup, but the blow has not helped a club that had lost five straight. Lillis has a pair of two-hit games since taking over for Morgan, but his success has not translated into club success as the Astros have dropped nine of their last eleven games and into fifth place.
Juilo Gotay, purchased as an infield stand-in after Morgan’s injury, pulled a muscle almost as soon as he reported to the team.