1960: Houston Gets Big League Baseball

Monday, October 17, 1960, Houston and New Yoek are both awarded NL baseball expansion franchises. Houston Sports Association Members celebrate (L>R): (1) R.E. "Bob" Smith; (2) Judge Roy Hofheinz; (3)  Unidentified; (4) City Councilman Johnny Goyen; (5) County Judge Bill Elliott; (6) George Kirksey; (7) Craig Cullinan.

Monday, October 17, 1960, Houston and New York City are both awarded NL baseball expansion franchises. Houston Sports Association Members celebrate (L>R): (1) R.E. “Bob” Smith; (2) Judge Roy Hofheinz; (3) Co. Commissioner V.V. “Red” Ramsey; (4) City Council Johnny Goyen; (5) Co. Judge Bill Elliott; (6) George Kirksey; and (7) Craig Cullinan.

On Tuesday, October 18, 1960, the following Associated Press story flooded the nation’s newspapers. Here’s how the San Antonio Express reported the news with their own headline and physical presentation:

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National Loop Admits Houston, N.Y.

Chicago (AP) – The National League unanimously awarded franchises to Houston and New York City Monday, expanding baseball’s oldest major league to 10 teams for the 1962 season.

It was the first structural change for the National League since 1900.

The resolution on Houston and New York was by Walter O’Malley who, ironically, had moved the Dodgers out of Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957, two months after Horace Stoneham had contracted to take his Giants from New York to San Francisco.

“The resolution was enthusiastically accepted,” said O’Malley. “There was no concerted objection although earlier there had been some feeling that along with Houston, the Dallas-Fort Worth territory might be more feasible than New York.”

League President Warren Giles, who said the club owners’ action will be finalized at the major league’s annual convention in St. Louis in December, termed the addition of New York and Houston as a “giant progressive step toward bringing major league baseball to all four corners of the country.”

“This makes us a very solid league geographically,” he said enthusiastically.

“To all intents and purposes,” Giles added, “we are now a 10-team league, with operations beginning in 1962. There are certain specifications the new clubs will have to meet, but I have no doubt they will meet the qualifications. I don’t anticipate any obstacles.”

Giles pointed out that two points must be cleared to pave the way for New York’s and Houston’ entry. First, a rule must be changed to make New York, currently American League territory, available to the  National League. This the NL expects to do as soon as possible.

Second, the Houston Sports Association, recipients of the Houston franchise, must acquire the (minor league) territorial rights from the Houston Buffs of the American Association.

The syndicate representing Houston numbers 13 and includes Craig Cullinan, Jr., George Kirksey, Judge Roy Hofheinz, K.S. (Bud) Adams, and R.E. (Bob) Smith. Cullinan, Kirksey, and Judge Hofheinz were present at the meeting and presented plans of their newly proposed $15 million dollar (Colt) stadium which they said could be ready by the start of the 1962 season.

The New York syndicate, which includes Mrs. Charles Payson, M. Donald Grant, Dwight (Pete) Davis, Jr., William Simpson, and H.H. Walker, Jr., (who) was not represented.

“The Cullinan group must first indemnify the American Association and the Houston club in the AA,” he said. “I understand they’ve already begun negotiations and they’ve assured us that (settlement) will be no problem.”

“Regarding New York,” Giles said, “Commissioner Ford Frick has assured us if we propose a rule to open the New York territory to a National League franchise, and if the American League should opposes it, he will cast the deciding vote in our favor.”

Giles said, however, he was not certain the American League would oppose the return of New York to the National, of which that city had been a member without interruption from 1883 to 1957.

Asked whether the American League, which is to meet Oct. 26, expects to move into Los Angeles, Giles said he did not know.

“We did not discuss the American League,” he said, “but I understand that the Commissioner feels the same way about Los Angeles as he does about New York.”

O’Malley, owner of the Dodgers, said he would not oppose the AL’s reported move into Los Angeles.

“I don’t think it would be so smart of them to move into Los Angeles right now,” he said, “although I would not oppose it.”

“I believe eventually they (the AL) will go to the (West) Coast, but there are other fine cities that would make fine (locations for) major league franchises (besides Los Angeles).”

… excerpt from the San Antonio Express, Tuesday, October 18, 1960, Page 21.

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Contemporary news reports often give us our only clues about the birth of reality and legend in history. Today’s column data suggests, at least, one example for each category:

Reality: The 1962 NL expansion back into New York City simply fanned the AL fires for placing their own franchises in those two gilded west coast markets that were already in play for the NL in LA and SF. The AL was already well on their way into LA, but the NL move into NYC simply greased the skids by eliminating any technical resistance the NL might have otherwise tried to use.  They already had played that card with the support of the Commissioner. The AL was coming to the west coast, all right, and they would not go first to any of the “other fine cities” that Mr. O’Malley had in mind for them, as in “any other place on the west coast, but LA.”

Legend: Judge Hofheinz apparently didn’t build Colt Stadium as an angry response to his difficult and expensive territorial rights settlement with the Houston Buffs. The HSA already had that $15 million dollar stadium plan in place at the time of their franchise award. The Judge wanted Houston fans to lick their chomps in close up observation of the domed stadium that would be going up near them on the prairie south of the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Thank You Note: Thank you, AstrosTalk, for identifying our third man in the photograph as Harris County Commissioner V.V. “Red” Ramsey.

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5 Responses to “1960: Houston Gets Big League Baseball”

  1. AstrosTalk Says:

    The third guy is V.V. Red Ramsey, who was a Harris County Commissioner.

  2. AstrosTalk Says:

    V.V. Red Ramsey is the third guy. He was a Harris County Commissioner.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, AstrosTalk. Your correct identification of our 3rd Man in the photo makes my day. It’s also now been corrected beneath the photo, with credit to you at the end of the column.

  3. Bob Hulsey Says:

    ““This makes us a very solid league geographically,” he said enthusiastically.”

    But, alas, the league now has a huge gaping hole in the state of Texas thanks to a former used car dealer who forced the new owner to switch to the whack-a-mole league where steroid-fed sluggers need not ever don a glove.

  4. James Scott Says:

    This was absolutely the worst summer of my life! My family is healthy, I have a great job but my beloved Astros are in the AL! The move was a kick in the groin, again and again. Most cannot understand and will think I am being dramatic.

    I had season tickets from 1998 to 2004, grew up hating the Dodgers, and lost my innocence with an errant Mike Torrez fastball in April of ’84. I am not sure I can ever get it back and struggle finding a way to pass on our National Pastime to my son.

    Thank you for sharing something when times were good…..geez I miss those days. AstrosDaily is this best site!

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