Houston ignited its major league status with victory. On April 10, 1962, the Colt .45s overtook the Cubs 11-2 at Colt Stadium. Bob Aspromonte, Al Spangler, and Román Mejias each scored three runs in the bout while Norm Larker and Hal Smith scored one apiece.
Bobby Shantz pitched a complete game, allowing five hits for the heroes of Chicago’s North Side. Houston traded Shantz to the St. Louis Cardinals in May, prompting the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to publish the article “Acquisition of Shantz Produces Lefthanded Depth for Cardinals.” It revealed a possibility that will shock the hearts of St. Louisans today because of a contemplated trade of a future Cardinals legend: “[Cardinals general manager Bing] Devine tried hard to pry Shantz from the new Senators after they obtained him from the Yankees in the 1960 player pool. Bob Gibson, then having his troubles, was among those offered to the Senators for Shantz.”
In their second major league game, the Colt .45s beat the Cubs 2-0. Hal Woodeshick started the game, left in the ninth inning, and received a victory because of Dick Farrell’s relief. With a 5-16 record for 1962, Woodeshick turned things around for 1963—he ended the season at 11-9. In the June 5, 1963 edition of the Houston Post, Clark Nealon used his “Post Time” column to praise Woodeshick’s rebound: “It is to say that the development of Lefty Hal Woodeshick of the Colts is the most amazing mound feature of an amazing first two months. It’s one thing to be a moundsman of established ability and reputation and to turn in great performances as part of a very noticeable trend.
“It’s another to have been something of a frustrated workman all your career, and then to suddenly become a paragon of effectiveness and consistency. And this is what Woodeshick has done in a manner to top not only the Colt staff but the entire National League at this writing.”
Woodeshick has the distinction of earning the first victory in the Astrodome, which hosted its first game on April 9, 1965—it was an exhibition pitting the newly named Astros against the Yankees.
The Colt .45s beat the Cubs 2-0 for the third game of the three-game series. Richard Dozier of the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote, “The Chicago Cubs fled Texas by air at dusk today, puzzled by their sudden mediocrity, dazzled by Houston’s left handed pitching, and imbedded in ninth place—a position new even for them.”
Colt Stadium, Houston’s major league ballpark until the Astrodome eclipsed it, remains a fond memory for those who were there in ’62. “Although Colt Stadium would soon be pushed into the shadows of the Astrodome, it still had its share of unforgettable quirks,” describes the Houston Astros web site. “One of the most obvious of these quirks lied in the stadium seats that had colors ranging from flamingo red, burnt orange and chartreuse, to turquoise. Also unique to Colt Stadium, female ushers were dubbed ‘Triggerettes,’ and parking attendants wore orange Stetson hats with blue neckerchiefs and directed cars into sections named ‘Wyatt Earp Territory,’ ‘Cheyenne Bodie Territory,’ and ‘Matt Dillon Territory.'”
Though off to a prodigious start for their inaugural season, the Colt .45s finished at 64-96.
A version of this article appeared on www.thesportspost.com on January 9, 2016.
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