Don Buddin: Houston’s 1st MLB Shortstop

Don Buddin (L) celebrates a road win with Houston Colt .45 first baseman Norm Larker at some point in his brief 1962 local job as the club's shortstop.

Don Buddin (L) celebrates a road win with Houston Colt .45 first baseman Norm Larker at some point in his brief 1962 local job as the club’s shortstop.

When the Houston Colt .45’s took the field at Colt Stadium to play their first-ever game in the major leagues on April 10, 1962 against the visiting Chicago Cubs, an almost 28 years old fellow named Don Buddin trotted out to play shortstop as the first man in history to handle that job for our local heroes. He batted eighth in the order; he played errorless, uneventful ball in the field; and he went oh for three at the plate. Along with pitcher Bobby Shantz,   Buddin was the only regular to go hitless in the Colts’ 13-hit, 11-2 mashing of the Cubs that monumental day in Houston baseball history.

Don Buddin (BR/TR) (5’11”, 178 lb.) only had 40 total games in the early season of 1962, but his coming and going, to and from Houston, are both summarily interesting, if nothing else beyond the fact that he really was in actuality our town’s first big league shortstop.

Let’s retrace how he got here:

The Colts already had a couple of candidates for shortstop courtesy of the special 1961 National League expansion draft that was held for the purpose of stocking both of the two new franchises awarded to Houston and New York so they could begin NL play in 1962. The New York club, of course, was set to be called the Mets. Infielders Eddie Bressoud from San Francisco (#1) and Bob Lillis (#5) from St. Louis were both drafted by Houston with the shortstop position in mind, but Bressoud would never see a field shot at that job.

Don Buddin 1st Shortstop Houston Colt ,45's April 10, 1962

Don Buddin
1st Shortstop
Houston Colt ,45’s
April 10, 1962

On November 26, 1961, Houston traded Bressoud to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Don Buddin. Then, on July 20, 1962, Houston looked at Buddin’s .163 for 40 games and sold his contract to the Detroit Tigers. Buddin would hit well enough at Detroit to bring his total season average up to .196 by year’s end. Meanwhile, as these things so often go, Eddie Bressoud batted .277 with 14 homers for the 1962 Boston Red Sox.

Don Buddin’s 6-year MLB career was done after 1962. He took a .241 career MLB batting average with him. Eddie Bressoud finished a 12-year MLB career in 1967 with a .252 batting average.

Don Buddin was born on May 5, 1934 in Turbeville, South Carolina. He passed away on June 30, 2011 in Greenville, South Carolina at the age of 77.

At least you got there first, Mr. Buddin. Thanks for contributing to our local history by being there on record as our first Houston Colt .45 shortstop.

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7 Responses to “Don Buddin: Houston’s 1st MLB Shortstop”

  1. Darrell Pittman Says:

    He also hit Houston’s first major-league grand slam, on June 10, 1962 at Colt Stadium off Joe Moeller in a 9-7 loss to the Dodgers (the nightcap of a doubleheader)

  2. Darrell Pittman Says:

    You can listen fo Al Helfer’s call of Buddin’s salami here:

  3. Mark W. Says:

    And then we had a young fellow who came up to the Colt .45s in July after distinguishing himself nicely at Oklahoma City, named J.C. Hartman.

  4. Mark W. Says:

    Dan Shaughnessy wrote something of a tribute to Buddin shortly after he died in 2011. Reading it made me rather sad. Here’s the link.

  5. Mark W. Says:

    Here’s a more sharply analytical article from FANGRAPHS.

  6. Peter Denman Says:

    On a different subject, I ran across a photo of the 1933 Buffs; probably you have it already. I thought I’d check, though, so if you can use it please let me know at the email address below.

  7. Peter Denman Says:

    I said the email address below, but am not sure it is visible; anyway, no doubt you have it…

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