What Was Harry Craft’s 1962 Uniform Number?

“TURN AROUND,
HARRY,
TURN AROUND!”

 

Yesterday I was contacted by a former member of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s. Someone close to the late first manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s had contacted him for the number that the late Harry Craft had worn on the back of his uniform in that original first season as the first skipper.

Guess what. – Neither of them remembered or knew the answer. Guess again. – Neither did I. Guess a third time. – Neither did any of my valuable local research friends. – And keep going. – Neither Baseball-Reference.com nor Retrosheet had this information, although B-R had the player uniform numbers. Apparently the Colt .45s had so many transient players that some uniform numbers got recycled.

Bob Hulsey of Astros Daily poses an interesting theory – and he calls it what it really is – no more than a guess: “The lowest numbers were for managers and coaches and that, therefore, in theory, Craft was #1 with his coaches wearing #s 2-6. Player-coach Jim Busby wore #4 and the original catchers wore 7,8 and 9.

Rule out 15, 23, and 44 from Craft’s player days. These three numbers were all worn by Colt players Bob Lillis (15), Jim Pendleton (23), and Bob Tiefenauer (44).

Why is our record of managerial #s so poorly recorded, if at all? I must defer to more experienced research in this area, but these folks are not sitting here with me tonight. My guess is that it goes back to when teams started wearing uniform #s in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was to help fans and reporters track players in the field – not managers in the dugout. Heck, some managers, mainly Connie Mack always wore a three-piece suit. He didn’t even wear a uniform. Player-managers, in fact, may have been the only team field bosses who were assigned #s for sure. I simply don’t know the rest — nor do I specifically know if managers Miller Huggins or Joe McCarthy of the great Ruthian Yankees ever had #s on their backs. I just think our poor record of managerial #s is tied to the first premise I stated above. – Numbers weren’t assigned to help track the movements of managers. Thus, there never has existed much attention to managerial numbers and their historical place in the scheme of numbered things.

The More General Problem. As anyone engaged in social research soon gets to discover: writers from the past are not really writing for history – and most of them are writing for daily newspapers. Our Early Houston Baseball SABR research team came to that discovery fairly quickly. Neither the original Travis Street Ballpark or the next venue that came to be known as West Side Park came into clear view for us immediately with addresses and directions. The local newspapers were writing for the people of their times. They wasted no ink telling where these places were situated. They assumed readers already knew where to go when a game was announced for either site.

Deja Vu Again. So, again in 1962, no one ever assumed that there was any need to document the numbers worn by Harry Craft and his coaches. If you really cared – as a family member, player, or fan – all you had to do was look at the back of his uniform jersey and remember a one or two digit number. – How hard could that be?

What Some of You May Be Able To Do to Recover, Document,  and Save Harry Craft’s 1962 Colt .45s uniform # – for family peace of mind and baseball history: If you have any 1962 Colt .45 scorecards that show his number printed on them – or if you have any photos of Harry Craft in a Colt .45 uniform that shows his number – or, if you just have an old newspaper or magazine article that reveals his Colt .45 # in words or pictures – please copy and send it to The Pecan Park Eagle in care of my e-mail address:

houston.buff37@gmail.com

With your permission, I will do a follow up column which reveals Harry’s elusive Houston # and gives full credit to you for the find.

Riding Off Into the Sunset. I’m betting it will show up on a photo somewhere. Darrell Pittman told me yesterday that he either had seen or heard of a photo of Craft in uniform, riding a donkey at Apache Junction in the spring of 1962 as a stunt. It apparently is a frontal view, he says, and I thought: “Too bad it wasn’t a photo of Craft riding off into the sunset of baseball history as manager of one of the first two expansion teams in NL history. – At least, we’d have Harry’s uniform number.”

At any rate, the challenge is now upon us. This one stays in open season until we solve it.

Addendum 1: In a challenge that proved the equivalent of a 15 second 1st Round Knock Out, the Harry Craft Mystery # has been resolved:

In 1962, Harry Craft wore #1 as manager of the Houston Colt .45s!

First KO Punch by Bill Hickman: “There’s a handy book called NOW BATTING NUMBER… (by Jack Looney) for answering questions like this. It lists all the uniform numbers for all the major league teams for each season running up through 2005. In 1962 for the Colts, Harry Craft’s uniform was #1. Bob Hulsey’s theory was spot on. The next five numbers were meted out to coaches. #2 was Jim Adair. #3 was Bobby Bragan. #4 was Jim Busby. #5 was Cot Deal. #6 was Lum Harris.”

Bill Hickman

Second KO Punch by David Munger: “The Baseball Almanac on line has him as #1 in ’62, ’63, and ’64.”

David Munger

From Baseball Almanac.com …

Houston Colt .45s ManagersManagers & Finishes
Year Uniform # Manager Wins Losses WP Finish GB
1962 1

Harry Craft

64 96 .400 8th 36½
1963 1 55 95 .407 9th 33
1964 1 61 88 .409 9th 27
6

Lum Harris

5 8 .385
Houston Colt .45s Managers & Finishes

Thanks from all of us, Bill Hickman and David Munger. I simply missed this data when I checked B-A.

********************

Addendum 2: Harry on a Mule, Not a Horse. Contributor Darrell Pittman sent us that photo of Harry Craft riding a mule out in Apache Junction, Arizona during spring training in 1962. Wonder what that animal would have done had Harry fired those Colt .45s into the western dessert skies on an otherwise quiet day?

“Mystery solved.
after short time fun!
Now everybody knows
I was Number One!”
~ Harry Craft

Addendum 3: Photographic Evidence from October 10, 1962, at the end of the very first Opening Day in Houston MLB franchise history, from the files of the Houston Chronicle and again, contributed separately by Darrell Pittman as the closer on this piece, if there is one.

As most of you know, the Colt .45s had just defeated the Chicago Cubs, 11-2, behind the pitching of Bobby Shantz and the 2 home run blasts by outfielder Roman Mejias. In the first whole version of the photo, that’s Harry Craft in the back row with the #1 clearly on his back as he congratulates an unidentified Colt .45 player. In the second close up crop we made, it’s a little easier and clearer.

Harry Craft Wearing # 1
Colt Stadium in Houston
April 10, 1962

 

Close Up of the Above Photo
April 10,1962

Of course, the photo does nothing to resolve the identities of those kids hanging over the dugout roof for a closer view of the celebration. A couple of them may be the younger versions of Tom Hunter or Mark Wernick.

As Joaquin Andujar once loved reminding us. – “You never know.”

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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3 Responses to “What Was Harry Craft’s 1962 Uniform Number?”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    There’s a handy book called NOW BATTING NUMBER… (by Jack Looney) for answering questions like this. It lists all the uniform numbers for all the major league teams for each season running up through 2005. In 1962 for the Colts, Harry Craft’s uniform was #1. Bob Hulsey’s theory was spot on. The next five numbers were meted out to coaches. #2 was Jim Adair. #3 was Bobby Bragan. #4 was Jim Busby. #5 was Cot Deal. #6 was Lum Harris.

    Bill Hickman

  2. David Munger Says:

    The Baseball Almanac on line has him as #1in ’62, ’63, and ’64.

  3. Mike McCroskey Says:

    Harry Craft was number 1 in 1962,63, and 64.
    Luman Harris was number 6 in 1964.

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