Colt .45s’ 1st 1962 Marketing Tour Stop

Harry Craft First Manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s; Last Manager of the 1961 Houston Buffs.

Harry Craft
First Manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s;
Last Manager of the 1961 Houston Buffs.

65 Victoria Fans Greet Touring Colt Group

By John Lyons, Advocate Sports Editor


Houston’s first major league baseball team, headed by General Manager Paul Richards, Manager Harry Craft, and three seasoned infielders, made a tremendous impression upon a gathering of 65 baseball fans at a luncheon Monday (January 29, 1962) at Carl’s Barbeque Place.

Traveling in an ultra deluxe bus, the group made Victoria its first stop in a tour that will visit 21 cities in 11 days.

Purpose of the caravan is to spread good will and talk up interest in Houston’s major league team throughout Texas, Mexico, and Louisiana.

Morris Frank

Morris Frank

 With Morris Frank, the peerless Master of Ceremonies from Houston as the spokesman, the baseball tro0ps were most warm hearted and cooperative here, creating a wonderful feeling of respect for Victoria and the surrounding area.

“It is a matter of record,” George Kirksey, executive vice-president of the Colts said, “that every major league baseball team depends heavily on patronage from outside the city. All major league clubs, and this includes the New York Yankees, must draw in large numbers from visitors to do well in attendance. We want you to know that we cordially are seeking your patronage and we believe we can afford you the finest accommodations in the majors.”

(Paul) Richards, one of baseball’s most highly respected strategists, was fighting off the affects of an attack of the flu and did not accompany the team as it left here for a night meeting in Corpus Christi.

When introduced, he (Richards) complied with a short talk in which he expressed optimism with the players now on the Colt .45s roster. “We failed to get only two men of those available in the National League (talent) pool last October,” he said, “Our team has a strong nucleus and  we feel that it will make a good competitive showing in the National League. We hope all of you folks come to our games often but we don’t want you to come just to watch the other teams play. W want you to come and cheer for our team.”

(Harry) Craft, who was in the Chicago Cubs’ organization last summer and who finished the season by driving the Houston Buffs into the (AAA) American Association playoffs, said, “I am enjoying myself almost as well here today as on my last visit here. At that time, I was one of the rotating coaches for San Antonio and we swept a series with Victoria just before the Victoria team moved to Ardmore (Oklahoma).”

Craft gave an excellent talk in outlining plans for spring training at Apache Junction, Ariz., and voiced the opinion that Houston would have a strong defensive club. He expressed particular pleasure over the type of team assembled by Houston officials for that city’s venture into the major league ranks.

Houston kicks off its National League schedule at home Apr. 1o against the Chicago Cubs.

The three Houston infielders in the party were Norm Larker, first baseman acquired from Los Angeles; Don Buddin, shortstop acquired from the Boston Red Sox in a trade; and Joe Amalfitano, third baseman bought from San Francisco.

Bob Aspromonte, second baseman purchased from the Los Angeles Dodgers, was to join the party in Corpus Christi Monday night. He attended the annual banquet of the New York writers Sunday night.

Among the baseball personalities in the audience introduced were Tex Shirley, former major league pitcher; Harvey Alex, 20-year old Yorktown (TX) resident who will report to the San Diego club in the Pacific Coast league this spring; Fern Smathers,  a Victoria catcher of two years ago; Lou Rochelli, who managed Victoria teams in 1957 and 1958; and Derrest Williams, who brought professional baseball to Victoria in 1956.

C.M. Ferguson, Chairman of the Athletic Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, handled the local arrangements for Monday’s meeting.

~ Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas, Tuesday, January 30, 1962


Note: Even though Bob Aspromonte and Joey Amalfitano were both known best as Colt .45s for the opposite positions reported here in the column by John Lyons of the Victoria Advocate, 3rd baseman Apromonte had played a couple of games at 2nd base for the Dodgers in 1961 and 2nd baseman Amalfitano even had more past experience at 3rd base in one of his previous seasons before coming over to Houston in the fall 1961 expansion draft.


Thank you again, Darrell Pittman, for this timely article about an historical first in the history of our Houston MLB franchise. – 55 years ago yesterday, 1/29/1962, the first annual pre-season team marketing bus tour made its first stop for a luncheon at  Carl’s Barbeque in Victoria, Texas.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle


One Response to “Colt .45s’ 1st 1962 Marketing Tour Stop”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    The pitchers and catchers for the Houston Astros will report for spring training on Valentine’s Day this year.

    I attended the third game of the inaugural three-game series between the Houston Colt .45s and the Chicago Cubs on April 12, 1962 at Colt Stadium.

    The most striking thing about the box score from that game is the time: 2:02. Dean Stone walked two and struck out 9 in a three-hit shutout that the Colt .45s won 3-0.

    Former Houston Buffs, Jim McKnight, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams played for the Cubs that day.

    A Pearland High Schoool teacher and coach, three classmates, and I were part of the recorded attendance of 7,838.

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