Early Season Optimism for Astros Was Up by 1973

Original PR Staff in 1965
Wayne Chandler (far left) began as assistant to Bill Giles and later took on more responsibility as Giles moved on to Philadelphia.

 

According to this article we found on our own independent fishing trip to the archives, early season optimism for both the Astros’ performance and home game attendance was high in 1973. With the help of  Astros Director of Press Relations Wayne Chandler, Port Neches Mid-County Chronicle sports writer Bob Griffin discerns something of a turning worm. The people are no longer simply coming to see the Astrodome itself and the great players of other teams. They are rallying behind the good talent that now dots the Astros’ roster and pulling for their own team realistically to bring home a first major team championship to the City of Houston. They don’t come right out and say it that directly in print, but that’s the tilt of the whole piece. It’s one that many of us older fans remember – and it felt as good then as it still does now.

“Hey, it’s 1973! Maybe we actually are finally close to having a club that could win a World Series. After all, the dad gum New York Mets, as bad as they were, even much worse than us at the start for each club in 1962, actually did win the World Series in 1969. They weren’t that great in 1969, but they won it anyway on some talent, a lot of good effort, and some bodaciously full-tank  phenomenal good luck and help from the baseball gods. Maybe now, four years since the Mets, maybe, just maybe it’s finally our turn.”

Fortunately, unless my old spirit bones are now sending me misdirectional signals, that old “we can finally do it in Houston this year” still survives in the early stirrings of the 2017, now American League-anchored, still fiery Houston Astros club of Manager A.J. Hinch!

____________________

Port Neches Mid-County Chronicle Review

Sunday, June 3, 1973, Page 6

Things Have Changed …. ASTRO FANS ARE FOR REAL

By Bob Griffin, Sports Staff

 

The crowds that pack the Astrodome these days aren’t like they used to be.

They’re there to watch the Astros. It hasn’t always been like this. In the past, the Dome or the other team was the attraction, but not the Astros.

The Astros have the center stage now and the fans come to see them. The fans are still interested in checking out the Astrodome and they still want to watch a Johnny Bench play, but the Astros are the real reason they’re there.

SO WHEN the Dome is packed these days its because the fans are there to watch the Astros battle to stay near the top of the National League West, a spot they’ve become familiar with the past year or so.

And all this makes the Astros happy. I chatted with Houston’s Wayne Chandler about this. Wayne has been with the Astros’ press relations department since they moved into the Dome. I fact, he now heads that department.

And in his years with the Astros he’s seen the change.

“It’s really gratifying that fans are coming because of the good ball club we have and the fact that they like to see the good ball that we play,” Wayne (Chandler) told me.

“Back in 1965 they came to see the Dome or to see a Sandy Koufax, the congenial Chandler continued. Now it’s to to see Cesar Cedeno, Jerry Reuss, Bob Watson, and all our other players.

“Every year our fans have become more knowledgeable and we have developed a great corps of fans who know good baseball when they see it and bad baseball when they see it.

And the Astros play good baseball most of the time.

Another point made by Wayne (Chandler) was that many of the top players with the Astros were brought up through their minor league chain.

“We’ve developed some good players,” explained Wayne. “(Cesar) Cedeno, (Bob) Watson, Doug Rader, Larry Dierker, and Don Wilson to name just a few. These are the kind of players that attract a crowd and win pennants.”

In their last 11-game homestand the Astros drew 263,068 fans. It would have been more except for a four game series with the lowly Atlanta Braves that pulled in only 43,000.

The Astros are running slightly behind last year’s totals, but it’s hard to compare since the season started late last year, throwing most comparisons off just a bit.

If the Astros continue to average the size crowds they’re averaging now their total attendance this year will be slightly up over last year by the end of the season.

And if the Astros are still battling it out with San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles for the top spot in the NL West at the end of the season, there’s no telling how many they will draw during their homestands in September.

During September they (the Astros) have three games with Cincinnati, four games with Los Angeles, and their last three home games of the year are with the Giants.

But no matter who’s in town the Astros are the Dome’s main attraction these days. And they like it that way.

~ end of newspaper column transcript.

____________________

In Case You Are Wondering or Trying to Remember …

In 1973, the Astros finished 4th in the NL West with a record of 82-80, .506 – a full 17 games back of division winner Cincinnati, 13.5 games back of 2nd place Los Angeles, and 6 games behind 3rd place San Francisco.

Their home attendance for 1973 was 1,394,004 in Leo Durocher’s last season managing anywhere.

___________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

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One Response to “Early Season Optimism for Astros Was Up by 1973”

  1. Wayne A Chandler Says:

    Bill, the Astros still were struggling in 1973 but it sure was more fun than the previous years. You’re still stirring up memories. Thanks. wayne

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