Opening Day Marks from 1962.

Bobby Shantz's Houston career lasted 20.2 innings.

With Opening Day of the Astros 2010 baseball season coming at us now, as always for me, like an overdue passenger train bearing a long-lost love or prodigal son, I am also always reminded of our first Houston occasion in the big leagues back in 1962. The club set records on April 10. 1962 that will last forever because they were each and all of them the first times we had done anything as a brand new member of the National League. Let’s run through a few on the going-in knowledge that we will not cover the whole first picture show.

Lefty Bobby Shantz (5’6″, 142 lbs.) started and finished the first game ever pitched for Houston in the big leagues. He threw the first pitch, a curving called strike to Chicago Cubs lead-off batter Lou Brock. That action alone exemplifies the improbability that we could possibly cover all the firsts of this of this special Opening Day in old Colt Stadium. Shantz’s first pitch, per se, was also the first pitch ever made by a Houston hurler to a future member of the Hall of Fame, in an afternoon scheduled outdoors game, on an early spring day it wasn’t raining, snowing, or Sunday in the State of Texas! Now that we have disposed of some sillier first-time niches, let’s cover most of the ones that count.

Aspro got the first-ever Houston hit and run.

Third baseman Bob Aspromonte led off the 1962 opener as the first Houston batter in major league history. he proceeded to whack the first hit, the first single, and score the first run in franchise history. In between his first hit and run, Bob had to become our first baserunner too. He stopped only long enough to register the first stolen base in Houston MLB history.

Right fielder Roman Mejias became the first Houston batter to hit a big league homer on Opening Day 1962. In fact, he also became the first Houston batter to hit two homers in an Opening Day game, or any other kind of game, for that matter.

Catcher Hal smith became the first man to hit a double and the second separate player to homer for Houston. Center fielder Al Spangler became the first Houston batter to triple an and second baseman Joey Amalfitano clocked in as the first Houston batter to be hit by a pitch.

Ernie Banks of the Cubs became the first opponent batter to homer off the Astros and, since, Bobby Shantz was busy throwing the first complete game in Houston history, he got to be the first franchise pitcher to surrender an official home run too.

Mejias hit .286 with 24 HR in 1962.

Reliever Turk Farrell became the first Houston reliever to warm up and not be put in the game as Bobby Shantz hung in there to surrender only five hits in pitching the first complete game in Houston MLB history.

The club records also were resplendently established on Opening Day 1962. Had they not continued to play, the 11-2 Colt .45 victory over the Cubs on April 10, 1962 had the club on pace to average double-digit runs in their official games. That would have been a mighty record, had the Colt .45s been able to sustain it over time as their version of “Mission Impossible.”

Bob Aspromonte and Roman Mejias became the first two Houston players to collect three hits each in a game back on Opening Day 1962. By going 3 for 4 while Mejias went 3 for 5, Aspromonte’s resultant batting average of .750 is the highest mark in team annals for career to date, if only for a day.

Catcher Hal Smith and second baseman Joey Amalfitano committed the first two fielding errors in club history. I am not sure which error came first. I am only sure that these two were far from our last miscues in the field and elsewhere.

Oh well, the 2010 Opening Day train will be here soon and there’s someone aboard we are each hoping to see again. Will it be the long lost love of our first Houston World Series hopes? Or will it be the prodigal son of the long ago lost pennant that got away , now coming back as our renewed grip on that eternal belief that we will enjoy better luck this time?

Go, Astros! Rise above the slumbering ether that is forecast for us as part of the mediocrity that oozes from a team that is simultaneously growing older in one “arthroscopicked” hand while it rebuilds with the eager talent-for-cheap-wages other.

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4 Responses to “Opening Day Marks from 1962.”

  1. Ken Dupuy Says:

    your wealth of information about baseball is astounding!

  2. Larry Ross Says:

    Was a graduate student @ UTMB in Galveston on that day & remember listening to the game. Wanted to hear how my favorite player did, from my days as a White Sox fan, Nellie Fox.

  3. Michael R. McCroskey Says:

    That’s pretty much the way I remember it, too. Undefeated for a day. Then we lost game 2 on our way to finishing 9th in a 10 team league. But, still a glorious start!

  4. Mark Wernick Says:

    We swept the Cubs three straight that series.

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