The ’61 Buffs Who Became Colt .45s and Astros

Umpire: “How you and five other ’61 Buffs are going to make it to the big leagues is beyond ALL possible belief!?!”
Buffs Catcher Campbell:BIG DEAL! ~ So’s your strike zone!”


The 1961 last edition of the minor league Houston Buffs produced six players who went on to become members of the new major league Houston Colt .45s. Five of the six made it onto the 1962 first National League season roster; the last one got there the following 1963 season; and three of the six men even saw later time in the bigs as renamed Astros from 1965 forward. ~ Allow me to express the fates and fortunes of those last three big leapers in a way that more admirably matches their historical accomplishment:

Three former Houston Buffs from their final 1961 roster as minor leaguers playing at old Buff Stadium (1928-1961) would later go on to play major league baseball for the Houston Astros in the Astrodome (1965-1999), the place that Judge Hofheinz once dubbed as “The Eighth Wonder of The World.”

Here’s a simple alphabetical table of their names and subsequent years of service with the Colt .45s and Astros:

Pidge BROWNE 1962
Jim CAMPBELL 1962-63
Ron DAVIS 1962 1966-68
Dave GIUSTI 1962, 1964 1965-68
JC HARTMAN 1962-63
Aaron POINTER 1963 1966-67

And, thanks to Baseball Reference.Com, here’s a more detailed look at each of the six most elevating transformers in Houston’s minor to major league transitional history:

 Pidge Browne

Positions: Pinch Hitter and First Baseman

Bats: Left  •  Throws: Left

6-1, 190lb (185cm, 86kg)

Born: March 211929 in Peekskill, NY us

Died: June 31997 (Aged 68-074d) in Houston, TX

Buried: Earthman Resthaven Cemetery, Houston, TX

Debut: April 13, 1962 (Age 33-023d, 9,551st in MLB history)
vs. PHI 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: July 29, 1962 (Age 33-130d)
vs. CHC 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Full Name: Prentice Almont Browne

Pronunciation: \BROWN-ee\

Career MLB BA: .210


 Jim Campbell

Position: Catcher

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

6-0, 190lb (183cm, 86kg)

Born: June 241937 (Age: 81-153d) in Palo Alto, CA us

Debut: July 17, 1962 (Age 25-023d, 9,601st in MLB history)
vs. PHI 2 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: July 23, 1963 (Age 26-029d)
vs. PHI 1 AB, 1 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1963 season

Full Name: James Robert Campbell

Career MLB BA: .221


 Ron Davis

Position: Outfielder

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

6-0, 175lb (183cm, 79kg)

Born: October 211941 in Roanoke Rapids, NC us

Died: September 51992 (Aged 50-320d) in Houston, TX

Buried: Davis Family Cemetery, Conway, NC

School: Duke University (Durham, NC)

Debut: August 1, 1962 (Age 20-284d, 9,608th in MLB history)
vs. MLN 4 AB, 1 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: September 25, 1969 (Age 27-339d)
vs. PHI 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1966 season

Full Name: Ronald Everette Davis

Career MLB BA: .233


 Dave Giusti

Position: Pitcher

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

5-11, 190lb (180cm, 86kg)

Born: November 271939 (Age: 78-362d) in Seneca Falls, NY us

High School: North HS (Syracuse, NY)

School: Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

Debut: April 13, 1962 (Age 22-137d, 9,551st in MLB history)
vs. PHI 0 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: September 27, 1977 (Age 37-304d)
vs. PHI 0.1 IP, 4 H, 0 SO, 1 BB, 3 ER

Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1962 season

Full Name: David John Giusti

Pronunciation: \JUST-ee\

View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject

Career Pitching, W-L, ERA: 100-91, 3.60


 J C Hartman

Position: Shortstop

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

6-0, 175lb (183cm, 79kg)

Born: April 151934 (Age: 84-223d) in Cottonton, AL us

Debut: July 21, 1962 (Age 28-097d, 9,605th in MLB history)
vs. STL 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: July 1, 1963 (Age 29-077d)
vs. STL 0 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1962 season

Full Name: J C Hartman

Nicknames: Cool

Career MLB BA: .185


 Aaron Pointer

Position: Left fielder

Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right

6-2, 185lb (188cm, 83kg)

Born: April 191942 (Age: 76-219d) in Little Rock, AR us

High School: McClymonds HS (Oakland, CA)

School: University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

Debut: September 22, 1963 (Age 21-156d, 9,787th in MLB history)
vs. PHI 0 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Last Game: October 1, 1967 (Age 25-165d)
vs. PIT 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB

Full Name: Aaron Elton Pointer

Nicknames: Hawk

Celebrity Note: Little brother of famous “Pointer Sisters” singing group

Career MLB BA: .208


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



5 Responses to “The ’61 Buffs Who Became Colt .45s and Astros”

  1. materene Says:

    A couple very young deaths listed there. We just never think about athletes not living for ever. I once thought anyone that made it to 50 had been very blessed, now today I have a different opinion at 70. If you make it to 80 someone up there really likes you. heh

  2. maxwell1901 Says:

    This is good, Bill, I enjoyed reading it. Has it ever been asked why “Buffs” was never considered as a name for the Houston franchise when Colt .45s was selected? Like the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and Miami Marlins, the name would have served as a link between the city’s minor league heritage and major league present.

    J. C. Hartman later became a Houston police officer and wrote about his career in a book called “Fields Way.” I suspect a lot of these guys were signed by the yet-unnamed Colt .45s and loaned to the Buffs, who were at that time an American Association affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      There was a broad sentiment of hope among most of us diehard Houston Buffalos/Buffs fans that the new NL club would keep our club’s identity alive as the Houston Buffs. And for a while, it seems as though that was going to happen. People in Houston didn’t form political action groups over s baseball team’s name in those days, however, and our hope ~ based upon what we had felt from their silence on this issue ~ was that the four big HSA leaders (Hofheinz, Smith, Cullinan, and Kirksey) felt the same way.

      As things played out, “Fan Hope” alone is not enough ehen it goes against the power of politics, special interest conflicts, and the fallout from ego clashes ~ and it didn’t happen any differently this time.

      Judge Hofheinz had his own ideas, however, and the “Colt .45s” or some other title may have happened anyway, but the best guess is that his anger over the alleged price-gouging he went through with Buffs President Marty Marion over HSA’s purchase of their AAA territorial rights and assets effectively killed any hope for the survival of the Buffs identity ~ or the ballpark they now called Busch Stadium.

      That’s about as close as we will ever get to the truth in my opinion.

  3. Al Doyle Says:

    Nice piece of research, Bill.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Al. ~ We’re still trying to turn over all those seemingly unlimited umber of stones out there, aren’t we? Well that’s good. Doing it is great fun and very good for the joy of discovery we always get to harvest in the process. ~ For example, even when we already knew it to be true, and based here upon comparative records and tenure of service records of them all, it isn’t hard to find the one MLB player from this field of six who was a big league talent cut above the other five. Is it?

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