The 11/21/2015 death of former Houston Colt .45 pitcher Ken Johnson has brought sharp attention to a number of us the fact that all of these figures from the early years of major league baseball in Houston have been disappearing all around us at accelerating rates with the passage of time. After all it’s been a half century, plus one year, since Ken Johnson performed the amazing feat of losing the only nine inning no hitter by a single pitcher in baseball history – and it’s now been 53 years since our city began its foray into the big leagues as the Houston Colt .45s.
The following is a chart which accounts for all 43 of the men who spent time on the roster of the 1962 original Colt .45s. It breaks them down through 10 pitchers, 3 catchers, 12 infielders and 11 outfielders. Those figures added up to the 43 members of the club’s original year player group – and does not include the names of some more famous Colts of the Jimmy Wynn and Larry Dierker ilk who came to Houston after 1962.
This table is totally focused on the first 1962 originals who went out there and established our initially tenuous hold on Houston’s right to call itself a major league city. There were some good players on that club, they just weren’t old enough or young enough to put it all together as a team in 1962, but, look at the bright side. – In spite of having to start out with a bunch of young guys we found drowning in a baseball pool – and a few random other 0lder guys who signed on even though some of their baseball wheels were already falling off, the original Houston Colt .45s were still good enough to finish ahead of their brother expansion club buddies, the New York Mets, and the Chicago Cubs.
The chart is easy enough to follow. If a player is still alive, his age is shown in the “Age in 2015” column. The 19 ages you find belong to the player on tat same horizontal line. Interesting to note: At age 90, Bob Cerv and Bobby Shantz are the two oldest living 1962 alumni. Ernie Fazio is the youngest alum at 73.
These life and death facts were double-checked at both Baseball Almanac and Baseball Reference, the two dot-com giants in our baseball statistical sky. I also checked these figure with the independent work that Darrell Pittman has done on this same subject at Astros Daily and found that we were in complete agreement on the recorded state of things reported and known:
Of the 43 original 1962 Colt .45s, 24 are now deceased and 19 survive. And, as we all know, that’s going to really change at an accelerated rate in the next ten years, but keep in mind your personal recollection of all these guys if you’ve been around long enough to have seen them – or even read about their accomplishments. – Bobby Shantz, for example, will always be remembered as the first guy to throw a major league pitch in behalf of Houston – and who among us elder fans shall ever forget the day that Roman Mejias had at the plate in that same very first opening game.
Remember. Enjoy. Share. And do what you can to preserve your memories of Houston’s first major leaguers. Every man on this list is deserving of your supportive statements and actions.
The Original 43 Men Who Filled the Roster of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s /
|LIST #||UNIF #||PITCHERS (17)||BIRTHDATE||AGE IN 2015||DEATH DATE|
|02||30||Bob Bruce||1933-05-16||Age 82|
|07||34||Dave Giusti||1939-11-27||Age 76|
|08||35||Jim Golden||1936-03-20||Age 79|
|12||42||Bobby Shantz||1925-09-25||Age 90|
|13||33||Dean Stone||1930-09-01||Age 85|
|18||9||Jim Campbell||1937-06-24||Age 78|
|20||8||Hal Smith||1930-12-07||Age 85|
|21||11||Joey Amalfitano||1934-01-23||Age 81|
|22||14||Bob Aspromonte||1938-06-19||Age 77|
|25||19||Ernie Fazio||1942-01-25||Age 73|
|26||17||Dick Gernert||1928-09-28||Age 87|
|28||18||J.C. Hartman||1934-04-15||Age 81|
|30||15||Bob Lillis||1930-02-02||Age 85|
|34||17||Bob Cerv||1925-05-05||Age 90|
|37||25||Roman Mejias||1930-08-09||Age 85|
|39||24||Dave Roberts||1933-06-30||Age 82|
|40||21||Al Spangler||1933-07-08||Age 82|
|41||20,24||Don Taussig||1932-02-19||Age 83|
|42||20||Carl Warwick||1937-02-27||Age 78|