Posts Tagged ‘Houston’s 1962 1st MLB April’

Houston’s 1962 1st MLB April

April 29, 2018

“You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd!!

In their first 1962 season as a major level baseball franchise, our Houston Colt .45s entered the National League, along with their fellow expansion club, the New York Mets, as the 9th and 10th members of the National League. Meanwhile, Houston fans, owners, and players alike all waited with baited breath for the construction and opening of what was then known ingloriously as The Harris County Domed Stadium to open its gates to the future.

It was a future that was three years and a tad more creative identity recognition away from it’s final arrival in April 1965 as the “Houston Astros, playing in the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World!” Those original Houston Colt .45s would open their premier season in a topless, classless venue known as Colt Stadium. It was a product of haste on the parking lot that also was destined to hold the wondrous air-conditioned and sun, rain, and mosquito-sheltered domed park that would be going on nearby under the watchful eye of principal owner Judge Roy Hofheinz and every game fan from as far away as Louisiana and Oklahoma who came to Houston in those days to see for themselves.

Neither the Houston or New York new clubs had much talent in the spring of 1962. They got their players dirt cheap the during the off-season from fire sale choices made available to them alternately by the eight long-time NL members at pre-set variable prices in this so-called baseball pool drafting process.

A half-serious young country and western singer named Roger Miller even used the phrase for a line he wrote into a song he called “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.” The fitting baseball tagline included was “You Can’t Go Swimming in a Baseball Pool!” — Miller may as well have added, “You can’t go Winning from A Baseball Pool!” It was the truth, even if the Houston Colt .45s used their first month of seasonal baseball life trying to sell a miracle to Houston fans.

The Early Illusion in 1962

As most know, the first Houston club got off to a gangbusters start at Colt Stadium on April 10, 1962, crushing the Chicago Cubs, 11-2, behind little lefty Bobby Shantz and the two-homer day of muscular outfielder Roman Mejias. What fewer know is that the Colts then imposed two more back-to-back losses of 2-0 each on the Cubs to sweep their first MLB 3-game series in history by a total run differential of 15-2.

The Colts played mediocre ball from there through the end of April, but that was OK. No one expected them to finish their first month with a 7-8 record, in a percentage tie bond with the Reds for 6th place and a GB share of 5th place with the Phillies and Reds for 5th place, just outside the first division.

The Colts even won their last April-played game on April 29th, defeating Milwaukee at home in Colt Stadium by 3-2.

1962 NL Standings Thru April 30, 2018

POS TEAM WON LOST W% GB
1 San Francisco 15 5 .750
2 St. Louis 11 4 .733 1.5
3 Pittsburgh 13 5 .722 1.0
4 Los Angeles 13 8 .619 2.5
5 Philadelphia 8 9 .471 5.5
6-7t Cincinnati 7 8 .467 5.5
6-7t Houston 7 8 .467 5.5
8 Milwaukee 8 11 .421 6.5
9 Chicago 4 16 .200 11.0
10 New York 3 13 .188 10.0

The rest of the season was the inevitable reality unfolding.

The Colt .45s finished the 1962 season with  record of 64-96 for a .400 winning percentage. They took 8th place all to themselves, but they ended up resting 36.5 games behind the NL pennant winning San Francisco Giants (103-62, .624) and gasping for air.

They found the breathing room when they realized what we fans already had found as our grasp on hope: By finishing 8th in 1962, the Astros front office had proven they must have been miles better than their Mets counterparts at the baseball pool. — Look. — The Mets finished 1962 in 10th place with a record of 40-120, .250. And sandwiched between the Colts and Mets were the ancient Cubs — and with ho baseball to blame for their failure — unless it was how they gave away their winnable players.

It became easier to remember the 1962 NL as a 3-club loop:

Our 1962 Houston Special NL Standings

POS TEAM WON LOST W% GB
1 Houston 64 96 .400
2 Chicago 59 103 .363 6.0
3 New York 40 120 .250 24.0

A Darrell Pittman Contribution

Darrell Pittman found this article on how the first month success of the Colt .45s bumped the gate in the Hot Springs (AR) Sentinel-Record of May 2, 1962. My hunch is that Houston attendance in April 1962 would have been good, anyway, no matter what, but that winning only could have helped.

 

 

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle