First Sweep and Streak in Houston MLB History

Houston's First MLB Sweep and Winning Streak Came Early at Colt stadium In April 1962.

Houston’s First MLB Sweep and Winning Streak Came Early at Colt stadium In April 1962.

It didn’t take long. Nor did it last long, But it happened right off the bat in Houston’s MLB history.

From April 10 through April 12, 1962, Houston began its major league history with a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in Houston at a temporary home on the parking lot of the property that would also become the future location of the Harris County Domed Stadium, or, as we know it today – the Astrodome, “Eighth Wonder of the World!”

April 10th: Houston Colt .45s 11- Chicago Cubs 2.

The Astros won their opener on April 10th, 11-2, behind the 3-hit bats of Bob Aspromonte and Roman Mejias and the 2-hit wands of Al Spangler and Hal Smith. Aspromonte recorded the first hit and run in Houston MLB history, among other firsts that are always only there once for a short while at the start of any new franchise expansion club’s history. And Mejias nailed with great power the first and third home runs in club history. In between, Hal Smith hit the second HR that Houston ever earned credit for achieving in an official game.

Of course, it was only the first game, but that’s all it took for Houston to have racked up their first double-digit run and hit game at the same earliest possible time. Add their two errors to the list and the “Houstons” also had achieved their first negative note of the defensive side as well.

Little lefty Bobby Shantz was the first starter, first winner, first strike out recorder, first pitcher to issue  a walk, and so much of the other fairly meaningless records that are always there for first-game participants to bag. Among these, are two that are joined together by one unique common thread: Shantz faced future Hall of Famer Lou Brock as the first batter to ever hit against Houston in a big league game. Shantz also surrendered the first homer in Houston history to future Hall of Famer Ernie Banks in the seventh inning, on his way to pitching the first complete game in Houston MLB history.

Most of the other “firsts” are discoverable from the box scores of these three games and the ones that follow at this link to the Baseball Almanac record page of the 1962 Houston Colt. 45s’ first season:

(To stay on the Houston page, simply click on the date of each game for a look at the box score. If you click on the opponent club’s name, the site will take you to that team’s season long journey of record.)

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/schedule.php?y=1962&t=HO1

April 11th: Houston Colt .45s 2 – Chicago Cubs 0.

Lefty Hal Woodeshick started and pitched the first eight innings for the 2nd win in both history and the three game streak. By working the ninth in relief, Turk Farrell recorded both the first save as he also became the first right-handed pitcher to take the mound for a Houston big league club. Farrell got the first save in history – as winning pitcher Woodeschick and Farrell combined for the first shutout in Houston MLB history.

See how extraneous, if not downright tedious, this sort of early record-keeping quickly becomes? It almost rises to the level of fingernails on the chalkboard, unless your baseball mind OCD patterns are simply out the gate and not likely coming back in this lifetime.

April 12th: Houston Colt .45s 2 – Chicago Cubs 0.

Dean Stone pitched this second consecutive 2-0 shutout by himself, becoming the first right-handed starter in club history, the first right-handed complete game pitcher, and the first pitcher of either hand to pitch a complete game shutout for Houston.

Doing it again by the same score in the third and final game of their home series with the Cubs, the Houston Colt .45s shut the door successfully on their first series sweep in history – while expanding their record club winning streak to three games, a feat that allowed Houston one more sunrise as the only club in big league history to go undefeated as the only team in big league history to never have lost a big league regulation season game. – Wow!

Alas, Houston would not be the first club in big league history to be deluded by their success against the Cubs into thinking that greatness against all was near at hand. The club would suffer their first loss the next day in Philadelphia by 3-2 and go on from there to finish the season as the 8th place club in the 10-team National League with a record of 64 wins and 96 losses. The only teams they bettered in that first season were the 9th place Cubs and the 10th place Mets.

Forty-three years later, in 2005, the Houston “Astros” – as they were soon enough renamed in 1965 – would finally win a National League pennant and make it to a World Series against the Chicago White Sox. A return trip to the World Series still leaves the door open for our club’s first recorded game win at that level.

Those of us who have followed Houston in person forever are hoping that 2015 and the club’s recent 10-game winning streak are a sign of hope that our next return to the World Series will not take so long as the first one did.

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2 Responses to “First Sweep and Streak in Houston MLB History”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    I went to the third game–my first big league game–on Thursday, April 12, 1962 and sat between third base and the left field foul pole. I remember it like it was yesterday and I bought a blue cap with the orange .45s logo, which I still have.

  2. Doug S. Says:

    Gotta love the Cubs with they way they welcomed the Colt .45s to the NL. Oh how I wish the Astros were still in the NL.

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