The Colt .45s' first-ever game
April 10, 1962
Colt .45s Bow In With Cannon-Like Boom
25,271 See Houston Wallop Cubs, 11 to 2, in N.L. Debut
by Clark Nealon and Mickey Herskowitz
The Sporting News, April 18, 1962
(Houston, Tex) Little Bobby Shantz and Roman Mejias etched their names deep into a monument for Houston baseball on April 10 at Colt Stadium.
Shantz, the last classic ball player to be developed by the legendary Connie Mack, pitched a masterful five-hitter and Mejias, a compact Cuban, blasted a pair of three-run homers as the Colts beat the Chicago Cubs, 11 to 2. Threatening weather and a still unsolved traffic problem held the crowd below capacity but 25,721 fans cheered this victory of the National League's newest team over the oldest.
Thus Shantz, the 5-7 Pennsylvanian Dutchman, and Mejias registered firsts in the name of Houston as a National League team, delighted an enthusiastic crowd and launched the Colts on top in their first effort in the major leagues.
Thus, too, did the Colts, maligned by many as hand-me-downs, match at least for a day the tremendous effort that finally brought major league ball to Houston, to Texas and the South.
On an overcast windy spring day, the Colts simply couldn't have improved on their showing.
First Pitch Called Strike
Jim McKnight, who played for Houston's minor league team last year, jumped on Shantz' only other lapse for a triple in the eighth and came home on Lou Brock's sacrifice fly.
But by then Mejias, with his two productive homers, and Hal Smith with one, had paced a resounding Colts attack that had the Colts well out of reach. Mejias' first blast came off Don Cardwell, the losing pitcher, in the third and the second came off Al Lary, another former Buff, in the eighth. That set an even gayer mood for the crowd and Shantz sent the fans home exulting. Banks singled with one out in the ninth, but Bobby struck out George Altman and retired Santo on a fly to end it.
Later, Manager Harry Craft said he had been on the verge of relieving Shantz with Dick Farrell in the last two innings.
"In the seventh, he looked like he was beginning to struggle," said Craft. "Farrell was ready to go and if Bobby doesn't get Altman, he doesn't pitch to Rodgers. Even with an 11 to 2 lead, there's going to be a tomorrow."
Held On With Cunning
As long as the catlike little Shantz had his full strength, he shut out the Cubs and allowed them only two hits and one man as far as second. When he called on his cunning to stand off obvious fatigue, Bobby still had enough left to complete a performance to remind one of when he was the toast of baseball as the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1952, a 24-7 winner for Mack's old Philadelphia Athletics. He was the apple of old Connie's eye, later just as admired by Casey Stengel while with the Yanks.
And now Shantz, the little one, occupies the same role in Houston, cheered in his every move and the winning pitcher in Houston's first major league game. Besides his pitching, he fielded like the little wizard he is, handling six chances and starting a double play.
Most encouraging was the fact that Shantz' arm, troubled for seven years, emphatically passed the test.
"I'm pretty tired," said Shantz, after it was over, "but my arm felt good. I knew I could finish it. My fast ball was my best pitch. It was going away from the righthanders. Usually it's as straight as a string."
Went Route Against Cards
It was the first opening game the wispy lefthander ever finished - he had started three - and his first complete game since last midseason.
"I went the distance against the Cards," he said. "My next start I got knocked out in the first inning by the Braves, and that was the last one."
In every respect, it was a marvelous homecoming for the Colt .45s from the sandy badlands of Arizona. All of the Colts were amazed at the quality of Colt Stadium, their interim home until the domed stadium is completed. This year's park was completed in a whirlwind five months, seating 33,000.
With the usual pomp and pageantry and introductions, National League baseball was welcomed to Houston.
"The National League has come of age," announced Morris Frank, the master of ceremonies, "and we have admitted it to Texas."
It developed that the season opened on the fiftieth birthday of Judge Roy Hofheinz, one of the Colt owners and a man who, in the words of Frank, "worked 26 hours a day and talked 36 more" to secure an N.L. franchise.
Craig Cullinan, president of the Colt .45s; Bob Smith, chairman of the board, and George Kirksey, the executive vice-president, also took bows.
City, county and state political figures were present in force. Two high school bands provided music and Singer Frankie Laine sang the National Anthem.
History In Houston
Big league "firsts" in Colt Stadium:
|First batter:||The Cubs' Lou Brock (he struck out)|
|First hit:||The Cubs' Billy Williams (a ground single to right off an 0-and-1 pitch in the first inning)|
|First Colt .45s hit:||Leadoff batter Bob Aspromonte (a single to left off a 1-and-1 pitch)|
|First extra-base hit:||Al Spangler (an RBI triple into the right field corner in the first inning)|
|First run:||Bob Aspromonte (in front of Spangler's triple)|
|First rhubarb:||The Cubs' Head Coach Elvin Tappe after Joey Amalfitano dropped the ball after catching George Altman's wind-blown pop fly in the second. Tappe charged Umpire Vinnie Smith at second base. Smith ruled Amalfitano dropped the ball after making the catch|
|First home run:||Roman Mejias of the Colts (a 390-foot blast into the left-center bleachers with Aspromonte and Spangler on base in the second inning)|
|First putout chance:||Don Buddin, the Colts' shortstop (he threw out Ken Hubbs at first base)|
|First stolen base:||Bob Aspromonte in the seventh inning.|
Data courtesy of Retrosheet
Houston Colt .45s 11, Chicago Cubs 2 Game Played on Tuesday, April 10, 1962 (D) at Colt Stadium CHI N 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 - 2 5 0 HOU N 1 0 4 0 0 0 3 3 x - 11 13 2 BATTING Chicago Cubs AB R H RBI BB SO PO A Brock cf 3 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 Hubbs 2b 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 Williams lf 4 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 Banks 1b 4 1 2 1 0 0 11 1 Altman rf 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 Santo 3b 3 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 White ss 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 Rodgers ph,ss 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 Barragan c 3 0 1 0 0 0 3 2 Cardwell p 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 Gerard p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Morhardt ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Schultz p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Warner p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 McKnight ph 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 Lary p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Totals 30 2 5 2 2 4 24 13 FIELDING - DP: 1. BATTING - 3B: McKnight (1,off Shantz). HR: Banks (1,7th inning off Shantz 0 on, 1 out). SF: Brock (1,off Shantz). Team LOB: 4. Houston Colt .45s AB R H RBI BB SO PO A Aspromonte 3b 4 3 3 0 1 0 0 1 Spangler cf 3 3 2 1 2 0 0 0 Mejias rf 5 3 3 6 0 0 4 0 Larker 1b 4 1 1 1 1 0 12 1 Pendleton lf 4 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 Smith c 4 1 2 1 0 0 4 0 Amalfitano 2b 3 0 1 1 0 0 4 4 Buddin ss 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 Shantz p 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 Totals 34 11 13 11 4 2 27 15 FIELDING - DP: 2. E: Smith (1), Amalfitano (1). BATTING - 2B: Smith (1,off Cardwell). 3B: Spangler (1,off Cardwell). HR: Mejias 2 (2,3rd inning off Cardwell 2 on, 0 out,8th inning off Lary 2 on, 2 out); Smith (1,3rd inning off Cardwell 0 on, 2 out). SH: Buddin (1,off Schultz). HBP: Amalfitano (1,by Schultz). Team LOB: 5. BASERUNNING - SB: Aspromonte (1,2nd base off Lary/Barragan). CS: Amalfitano (1,2nd base by Warner/Barragan). PITCHING Chicago Cubs IP H R ER BB SO HR Cardwell L(0-1) 2.2 5 5 5 2 1 2 Gerard 2.1 1 0 0 1 0 0 Schultz 1 4 3 3 0 1 0 Warner 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 Lary 1 2 3 3 1 0 1 Totals 8 13 11 11 4 2 3 Houston Colt .45s IP H R ER BB SO HR Shantz W(1-0) 9 5 2 2 2 4 1 HBP: Schultz (1,Amalfitano). Umpires: Dusty Boggess, Stan Landes, Vinnie Smith, Mel Steiner Time of Game: 2:32 Attendance: 25271 Starting Lineups: Chicago Cubs Houston Colt .45s 1. Brock cf Aspromonte 3b 2. Hubbs 2b Spangler cf 3. Williams lf Mejias rf 4. Banks 1b Larker 1b 5. Altman rf Pendleton lf 6. Santo 3b Smith c 7. White ss Amalfitano 2b 8. Barragan c Buddin ss 9. Cardwell p Shantz p CUBS 1ST: First game for Houston franchise; Brock struck out; Hubbs grounded out (shortstop to first); Williams singled to right; Banks grounded out (third to first); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 0. COLT .45S 1ST: Aspromonte singled to left; Spangler tripled to right [Aspromonte scored]; Mejias grounded out (pitcher to first); Larker reached on a fielder's choice [Spangler out at home (first to catcher)]; Pendleton grounded out (pitcher to first); 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 1. CUBS 2ND: Altman popped to second; Santo grounded out (shortstop to first); White grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 1. COLT .45S 2ND: Smith doubled to center; Brock missed a diving catch; Amalfitano grounded out (pitcher to first); Buddin struck out; Shantz popped to second; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 1. CUBS 3RD: Barragan singled to center; Cardwell grounded into a double play (shortstop to second to first) [Barragan out at second]; Brock struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 1. COLT .45S 3RD: Aspromonte walked; Spangler walked [Aspromonte to second]; Mejias homered [Aspromonte scored, Spangler scored]; Larker made an out to center; Pendleton popped to third; Smith homered; GERARD REPLACED CARDWELL (PITCHING); Amalfitano grounded out (shortstop to first); 4 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. CUBS 4TH: Hubbs grounded out (first unassisted); Williams grounded out (pitcher to shortstop to first); Banks lined to right; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. COLT .45S 4TH: Buddin grounded out (shortstop to first); Shantz grounded out (shortstop to first); Aspromonte singled to center; Spangler grounded out (first unassisted); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. CUBS 5TH: Altman reached on an error by Amalfitano; Santo forced Altman (pitcher to shortstop); Smith dropped a foul fly hit by White; White walked [Santo to second]; Barragan grounded into a double play (pitcher to second to first) [White out at second]; 0 R, 0 H, 2 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. COLT .45S 5TH: Mejias made an out to left; Larker walked; Pendleton grounded out (shortstop to first) [Larker to second]; Smith popped to third; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. CUBS 6TH: MORHARDT BATTED FOR GERARD; Morhardt made an out to second; On a bunt Brock grounded out (pitcher to first); Hubbs grounded out (pitcher to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. COLT .45S 6TH: SCHULTZ REPLACED MORHARDT (PITCHING); Amalfitano was hit by a pitch; Buddin out on a sacrifice bunt (catcher to first) [Amalfitano to second]; Shantz struck out; Aspromonte made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 0, Colt .45s 5. CUBS 7TH: Williams struck out; Banks homered; Altman grounded out (first to pitcher); Santo walked; RODGERS BATTED FOR WHITE; Rodgers popped to first in foul territory; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 1, Colt .45s 5. COLT .45S 7TH: RODGERS STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING SS); Spangler singled to shortstop; Mejias singled to center [Spangler to second]; Larker singled to right [Spangler scored, Mejias to third]; Pendleton singled to third [Mejias scored, Larker to second]; WARNER REPLACED SCHULTZ (PITCHING); Smith grounded into a double play (shortstop to second to first) [Larker to third, Pendleton out at second]; Amalfitano singled to pitcher [Larker scored]; Warner slipped trying to field the grounder; Amalfitano was caught stealing second (catcher to second); 3 R, 5 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 1, Colt .45s 8. CUBS 8TH: Barragan made an out to right; MCKNIGHT BATTED FOR WARNER; McKnight tripled to center; Brock hit a sacrifice fly to right [McKnight scored]; Hubbs lined to left; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 2, Colt .45s 8. COLT .45S 8TH: LARY REPLACED MCKNIGHT (PITCHING); Buddin made an out to right; Shantz grounded out (shortstop to first); Aspromonte singled to shortstop; Aspromonte stole second; Spangler walked; Mejias homered [Aspromonte scored, Spangler scored]; Larker made an out to left; 3 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Cubs 2, Colt .45s 11. CUBS 9TH: Williams grounded out (second to first); Banks singled to center; Altman struck out; Santo made an out to right; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 2, Colt .45s 11. Final Totals R H E LOB Cubs 2 5 0 4 Colt .45s 11 13 2 5