The 1961 Expansion Draft Picks

Who says you can’t go swimming in a baseball pool?

 

The 1961 expansion draft picks by the Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets probably are best remembered today for the event’s contribution to one of those iconic lines from the Roger Miller C&W songwriter’s big hit of the same year. Just as “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd”, … “You can’t go swimmin’ in a baseball pool”, especially one as short on talent and a World-Series deep future as this class possessed.

Forget the apparent sight of bargain prices too. The Colts and the Mets were paying good money for bottom-feeder talent in 1961 – and everybody in Houston, at least seemed to know it. We were just sucker-silly glad to have a club that could technically lay claim to major league status, even if Houston were the only one of the two teams to be good enough to finish the 1962 season higher than one original NL franchise club, the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs, at the end of the 1962 season, were suffering from a 54-year drought in their quest for another World Series championship, and here they were, finishing 9th in 1962 behind the 8th place Colts, and with only the 10th place 120-loss Mets separating them from total ignominy. Little did we all know in the fall of 1962 that the Chicago Cubs were only half way through their 108 year finally concluded drought at the end of the first NL 1962 expansion season.

There are some interesting characters among the original draftees and even some marginally good ones, but no great ones. No one really expected blossoming gods to grow from the “baseball pool” and we were not surprised that our return from this exercise merely lived up to our low-bar expectations.

It still would have been interesting if Carroll Hardy had turned out to be the magical equivalent of Joe Hardy from “Damn Yankees,” but it was not meant to be.

The guys are still worth our positive memories in Houston for the part they played in bringing some of our early big league lore to life from early times. Had he been available, I can’t imagine a pretty good reliever named Moe Drabowsky walking to practice across the sandy cactus lined open space between the spring training barracks and the diamond at Apache Junction – with a pistol – shooting snakes on the way. But I can see our Turk Farrell of the Pool doing it, because he did it that way. Just as Mickey Herskowitz wrote in his Houston Post columns that sewed most of the yarn that blended Richard “Turk” Farrell into a front seat on the earliest canvases of Colt .45 lore.

And it all started with those guys that the club rescued from the baseball pool.

Look ’em over again. Look at how many of them, for both the Colts and Mets, played and were written into team history lore – for better and mostly worse performances by acts of improbable ineptness.

One More Dredge Across the Baseball Pool

Regular Phase, $75,000 per player
Pick Player Position Selected by Previous team
1 Eddie Bressoud IF Houston Colt .45s San Francisco Giants
2 Hobie Landrith C New York Mets San Francisco Giants
3 Bob Aspromonte IF Houston Colt .45s Los Angeles Dodgers
4 Elio Chacón IF New York Mets Cincinnati Reds
5 Bob Lillis IF Houston Colt .45s St. Louis Cardinals
6 Roger Craig P New York Mets Los Angeles Dodgers
7 Dick Drott P Houston Colt .45s Chicago Cubs
8 Gus Bell OF New York Mets Cincinnati Reds
9 Al Heist OF Houston Colt .45s Chicago Cubs
10 Joe Christopher OF New York Mets Pittsburgh Pirates
11 Román Mejías OF Houston Colt .45s Pittsburgh Pirates
12 Félix Mantilla IF New York Mets Milwaukee Braves
13 George Williams IF Houston Colt .45s Philadelphia Phillies
14 Gil Hodges 1B New York Mets Los Angeles Dodgers
15 Jesse Hickman P Houston Colt .45s Philadelphia Phillies
16 Craig Anderson P New York Mets St. Louis Cardinals
17 Merritt Ranew C Houston Colt .45s Milwaukee Braves
18 Ray Daviault P New York Mets San Francisco Giants
19 Don Taussig OF Houston Colt .45s St. Louis Cardinals
20 John DeMerit OF New York Mets Milwaukee Braves
21 Bobby Shantz P Houston Colt .45s Pittsburgh Pirates
22 Al Jackson P New York Mets Pittsburgh Pirates
23 Norm Larker 1B Houston Colt .45s Los Angeles Dodgers
24 Sammy Drake IF New York Mets Chicago Cubs
25 Sam Jones P Houston Colt .45s San Francisco Giants
26 Chris Cannizzaro C New York Mets St. Louis Cardinals
27 Paul Roof P Houston Colt .45s Milwaukee Braves
28 Choo-Choo Coleman C New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies
29 Ken Johnson P Houston Colt .45s Cincinnati Reds
30 Ed Bouchee 1B New York Mets Chicago Cubs
31 Dick Gernert 1B Houston Colt .45s Cincinnati Reds
32 Bob Smith OF New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies
 

Regular Phase, $50,000 per player

Pick Player Position Selected by Previous team
33 Ed Olivares IF Houston Colt .45s St. Louis Cardinals
34 Sherman Jones P New York Mets Cincinnati Reds
35 Jim Umbricht P Houston Colt .45s Pittsburgh Pirates
36 Jim Hickman OF New York Mets St. Louis Cardinals
37 Jim Golden P Houston Colt .45s Los Angeles Dodgers
 

Premium Phase, $125,000 per player

Pick Player Position Selected by Previous team
38 Joe Amalfitano IF Houston Colt .45s San Francisco Giants
39 Jay Hook P New York Mets Cincinnati Reds
40 Turk Farrell P Houston Colt .45s Los Angeles Dodgers
41 Bob Miller P New York Mets St. Louis Cardinals
42 Hal Smith C Houston Colt .45s Pittsburgh Pirates
43 Don Zimmer IF New York Mets Chicago Cubs
44 Al Spangler OF Houston Colt .45s Milwaukee Braves
45 Lee Walls IF/OF New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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One Response to “The 1961 Expansion Draft Picks”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Expansion trivia:

    Chris Cannizzaro was selected by the Mets from the St. Louis chain in the 1961 draft. Seven years later, he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 1968 expansion draft.

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