Last week a refreshing breeze from the West—with gusts from the North and possibly even the East—blew into the roundhouse of the Houston Astros. He is a 23-year-old pitcher named Crash Von Hoff, which sounds like something out of The Blue Max. Crash, whose real name is Bruce, had been pitching for Amarillo in the Texas League, but when he arrived in Houston from El Paso, where his team had been playing, he had come by way of Los Angeles, Chicago and Aurora, Ill. Why had Crash flown 3,450 miles west, northeast and then south when he could have gone straight across Texas? Well, for one thing, he had an Army reserve meeting to attend in Aurora, and when his flight in that direction was overbooked the airlines had to reroute him through Los Angeles and then to Chicago. When Crash finally flew into Houston he got to sleep at 3 a.m. Naturally, he was given his first major league starting assignment that night. He pitched four-hit shutout ball for eight innings (the Astros won 2-1 in the 12th) and announced, "I didn't have my good stuff." He had less stuff a few days later in his second start, when the Cardinals bombed him in a 7-4 ball game, a performance reminiscent of the occasion in spring training when he earned his nickname. "I was driving down the road, and this car pulled into my path," says Crash. "I couldn't do anything but—well, crash. I totaled my car—$1,000 in damage—but I got out without a scratch." Jim Owens, a Houston coach who rates such things, gave Crash 99%. "Everything was torn up but the blinker," remembers Owens. "He breaks the blinker, I give him a perfect 100."