1962 - Season Recap
(c) Bob Hulsey

The new Houston team was named the "Colt .45s" after a "Name The Team" contest was held. The colors selected were navy blue and orange. The first team was a collection of cast-offs stocked primarily through an expansion draft held after the 1961 season. The Colts made their choices alternately with the New York Mets, the other expansion franchise that put the National League at ten teams. Harry Craft was named to be Houston's first manager.

The Colts' first big league game was April 10th at Colt Stadium. It was Judge Hofheinz' 50th birthday. Bobby Shantz pitched a complete game as Houston bombed the Chicago Cubs, 11-2. Bob Aspromonte got the first hit and scored the first run. Roman Mejias was the offensive star with two home runs. The Colts blanked the Cubs the next two days, sweeping the first three games in franchise history. They were tied for first place! But then they took their first road trip and found that life in the National League was not nearly so easy.

For decades, Houston was a farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals and many of their star players had come through Texas on their way to the majors. The first game against the Redbirds on April 24th meant a little extra. Don Taussig homered for the game-winner in a 4-3 victory. Hal Woodeshick was the winning pitcher.

The Colt .45s captured their first doubleheader sweep on June 2nd, dumping the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field by scores of 10-6 and 10-3. Catcher Hal Smith, a World Series hero in Pittsburgh two years before, led the Colts to victory. Outfielder Carl Warwick, acquired from St. Louis in a trade for Shantz, delivered six hits in the twinbill. Ironically, Forbes Field became the worst place for Houston success during the decade.

The weather was always a factor at Colt Stadium but one night a thick fog rolled in to cut short a 7-3 victory over Cincinnati. It was a blessing for Craft who got to the hospital in time for the birth of his first daughter.

Richard "Turk" Farrell was the team's best pitcher that first year - and he lost 20 games! Known around the league for his late night binges and frequent pranks, his lighthearted manner kept the team loose during those early years. Turk was named to represent Houston in both All-Star Games held that season. Farrell and Bob Bruce each won ten games to lead the ballclub.

Mejias was the Colts' best hitter, pacing the team in batting average (.286), home runs (24), runs batted in (76) and stolen bases (12). He was traded to Boston after the season.

The Colts finished in eighth place with a 64-96 record, ahead of both the Cubs and the Mets. They still got a taste of pennant pressure as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants played them in crucial late-season games. Houston was the victim when swift Dodger Maury Wills became the first player to steal 100 bases in a season. The Dodgers and Giants ended in a tie with San Francisco winning a playoff to reach the World Series. The Colt .45s, on the other hand, felt glad to have been better than two teams in their first year of existence and wished the improvement would continue into the next year.

8th place, National League

C Hal Smith 1235.235
1B Norm Larker 963.263
2B Joe Amalfitano 127.237
3B Bob Aspromonte 1159.266
SS Bob Lillis 130.249
LF Al Spangler 535.285
CF Carl Warwick 1660.260
RF Roman Mejias 2476.286
OF Jim Pendleton 836.246
C Merritt Ranew 424.234
IF Billy Goodman 010.255
IF J.C. Hartman 05.223
Key PitchersWLERA
SP Dick Farrell 10203.02
SP Ken Johnson 7163.84
SP Bob Bruce 1094.06
SP Jim Golden 7114.07
SP Hal Woodeshick 5164.39
CL Don McMahon 551.53
RP Bobby Tiefenauer 244.34
RP Russ Kemmerer 534.10
RP Jim Umbricht 402.01

Mejias: Star of inaugural season.
(c) Houston Astros

Farrell: Team's first All-Star.
(c) Houston Astros

From The AstrosDaily Media Library

1962-1964: A Team Born to Die - From "The Houston Astros: A Silver Odyssey" - A look at the Colt .45 years. (4:52 - MLB video)

Apr 11, 1962 Hal Smith drives in two during Colt .45s second official game. (0:45, Helfer)
Apr 11, 1962 Turk Farrell saves the game in the ninth. (0:37, Helfer)
Apr 12, 1962 Dean Stone blanks Cubs for series sweep.(0:51, Elston)
Apr 24, 1962 Don Taussig's homer trips the Cards.(0:41, Passe)
Apr 25, 1962 Merritt Ranew homers to force a tie with St. Louis.(0:55, Elston)
May 10, 1962 Roman Mejias belts first inside-the-park HR in team history.(0:32, Helfer)
May 21, 1962 Jim Golden downs the Mets with a complete game.(0:56, Nelson - Mets)
Jun 9, 1962 Roman Mejias' homer excites Loel Passe and Colt Stadium.(0:46, Passe)
Jun 10, 1962 Don Buddin socks Houston's first grand slam.(0:53, Helfer)
Jun 14, 1962 Al Spangler caps a seven-run first inning against New York.(0:29, Nelson - Mets)
Jun 20, 1962 Norm Larker swats a grand slam off Juan Marichal.(0:38, Helfer)
Jul 3, 1962 Jim Pendleton and Bob Aspromonte hit back-to-back shots.(1:20, Elston)
Jul 6, 1962 Hal Woodeshick nails down a shutout of Cincinnati.(0:48, Elston)
Jul 15, 1962 Don McMahon closes out a win over the Cubs.(0:35, Elston)
Jul 18, 1962 Jim Campbell gets his first big league hit.(0:25, Elston)
Jul 20, 1962 Roman Mejias smacks the game-winner in the ninth inning.(2:26, Elston)
Sep 8, 1962 Turk Farrell stuns the Mets with a home run.(0:44, Murphy - Mets)
Sep 8, 1962 Mistakes are common for expansion teams.(1:13, Murphy - Mets)
Sep 18, 1962 Joey Amalfitano and Merritt Ranew bomb New York.(1:17, Murphy - Mets)
Sep 23, 1962 Jim Umbricht rings up the 1,000th strikeout of the season.(0:49, Elston)

Trades and Transactions

1961 - signed Ron Davis(OF) as free agent

1961 - signed Aaron Pointer(OF) as free agent

Jan 1961 - signed Carroll Sembera(P) as free agent

Jun 1961 - signed Don Arlich(P) as free agent

Jun 1961 - signed Dave Giusti(P) as free agent

Jun 9 1961 - traded Barney Schultz(P) to Chi-N for J.C. Hartman(IF) and Wayne Connally(IF)

Sep 10 1961 - signed Glenn Vaughan(IF) as free agent

Sep 11 1961 - signed Rusty Staub(OF) as free agent

Oct 1961 - paid cash to Det-A for Hal Woodeshick(P)

Oct 10 1961 - Expansion Draft
Regular phase: $75,000 per player
- drafted Eddie Bressoud(IF) from SF-N
- drafted Bob Aspromonte(IF) from LA-N
- drafted Bob Lillis(IF) from StL-N
- drafted Dick Drott(P) from Chi-N
- drafted Al Heist(OF) from Chi-N
- drafted Roman Mejias(OF) from Pit-N
- drafted George Williams(IF) from Phi-N
- drafted Jesse Hickman(P) from Phi-N
- drafted Merritt Ranew(C) from Mil-N
- drafted Don Taussig(OF) from StL-N
- drafted Bobby Shantz(P) from Pit-N
- drafted Norm Larker(IF) from LA-N
- drafted Sam Jones(P) from SF-N
- drafted Paul Roof(P) from Mil-N
- drafted Ken Johnson(P) from Cin-N
- drafted Dick Gernert(IF) from Cin-N
- drafted Ed Olivares(IF) from StL-N
- drafted Jim Umbricht(P) from Pit-N
- drafted Jim Golden(P) from LA-N
Premium phase: $125,000 per player
- drafted Joe Amalfitano(IF) from SF-N
- drafted Dick Farrell(P) from LA-N
- drafted Hal Smith(C) from Pit-N
- drafted Al Spangler(OF) from Mil-N

Oct 13 1961 - paid cash to StL-N for Al Cicotte(P)

Nov 26 1961 - traded Ed Bressoud to Bos-A for Don Buddin(IF)

Nov 27 1961 - Winter Major League Draft
- drafted Joe Hoerner(P) from Chi-A
- drafted Johnny Weekly(OF) from SF-N for $25,000
- drafted Dean Stone(P) from StL-N
- drafted Mike White(OF) from Cal-A for $2,000

Dec 1 1961 - traded Sam Jones(P) to Det-A for Bob Bruce(P) and Manny Montejo(P)

Jan 1962 - paid cash to Pit-N for Jim Dickson(P)

Feb 27 1962 - signed John Bateman(C) as free agent

May 7 1962 - traded Bobby Shantz(P) to StL-N for John Anderson(P) and Carl Warwick(OF)

May 9 1962 - paid cash to Mil-N for Don McMahon(P)

May 12 1962 - activated Jim Busby(OF) from coaching position

May 15 1962 - signed Billy Goodman(IF) as free agent

May 16 1962 - traded Ben Johnson to Mil-N for George Brunet(P)

May 19 1962 - released Dick Gernert(IF)

Jun 1962 - signed Chris Zachary(P) as free agent

Jun 1962 - signed Brock Davis(OF) as free agent

Jun 1962 - signed Ernie Fazio(IF) as free agent

Jun 1962 - signed Larry Yellen(P) as free agent

Jun 10 1962 - signed John Hoffman(C) as free agent

Jun 13 1962 - signed Jerry Grote(C) as free agent

Jun 18 1962 - signed Sonny Jackson(IF) as free agent

Jun 22 1962 - traded Dean Stone(P) to Chi-A for Russ Kemmerer(P)

Jun 26 1962 - paid cash to NY-A for Bob Cerv(OF)

Jul 1962 - signed Danny Coombs(P) as free agent

Jul 2 1962 - signed Chuck Harrison(IF) as free agent

Jul 20 1962 - sent Don Buddin(IF) to Det-A for cash

Jul 30 1962 - released Bob Cerv(OF)

Aug 11 1962 - paid cash to Bal-A for Johnny Temple(IF)

Sep 1962 - signed Dave Adlesh(C) as free agent

Sep 10 1962 - signed John Paciorek(OF) as free agent

Oct 16 1962 - released Billy Goodman(IF)