1963 - Season Recap
(c) Bob Hulsey

The second season brought plenty of changes as the team tried to find the right mix of veteran players while introducing raw young talent from the minors. The results hardly changed in the won-loss department. The Colts ended in ninth place with a 66-96 mark.

Turk Farrell led the club again with 14 victories while lefty Hal Woodeshick posted eleven wins and ten saves out of the bullpen. But the year's best pitching effort was turned in by Don Nottebart who tossed a no-hitter on May 17th in Colt Stadium against Philadelphia for a 4-1 triumph.

Houston became the first National League team to play night games on Sundays. The league lifted their ban after teams complained about the Texas summer heat the previous year. The first such night game was played on June 9th against the Giants. Veteran Hal "Skinny" Brown was the hero, blanking San Francisco for six innings after Farrell left in third inning with an injury.

Juan Marichal of the Giants got revenge on June 15th when he no-hit the Colts, 1-0, at Candlestick Park. Lost in the details was that Dick Drott tossed a three-hitter for Houston.

By late June, the Colts offense reminded some Texans of the Dust Bowl days. They were blanked for 40 consecutive innings, lost 8-1 with Howie Goss getting the lone run home, then began another scoreless streak of 30 innings. Houston was mired in a ten-game losing streak before Al Spangler homered to break the hex on June 26th. The Colts came back to life and beat the Milwaukee Braves in 13 innings with a 7-2 miracle.

As the season wore on, Craft put youngsters in the lineup more frequently. Houston's first "bonus baby", 19-year-old Daniel "Rusty" Staub appeared in 150 games and got his first big league homer on June 10th against one of the league's best pitchers. A pair of 21-year-olds, Ernie Fazio and Jim Wynn, also saw significant playing time. Another rookie, 23-year-old catcher John Bateman, led the Colts in homers (10) and RBIs (59).

Speaking of youth, the previous year third baseman Bob Aspromonte befriended a young Arkansas boy who was struck by lightning at a baseball diamond. When Aspromonte visited the nine-year-old in Methodist Hospital, the kid asked that his hero hit a home run for him that night. The third sacker wasn't much of a power hitter but he agreed to try. As fate provided, Aspromonte blasted a homer.

The child returned to Houston for additional eye surgery in 1963. When Aspromonte saw him, the lad asked again for a home run.  The third baseman smashed a grand slam to beat the Cubs, 6-2. The Ruthian tale was getting publicity for the new team. When the kid came back to town in July, he asked Aspromonte for still another homer. Stuck in a terrible slump, Bob was afraid he'd disappoint the boy. Instead, he beat the Mets with another grand slam. Some suggested the Colts take the kid on the road.

By late September, the Colts sometimes looked like Little Leaguers themselves. On September 27th, the club hosted the Mets and sent out an all-rookie lineup. Houston lost, 10-3, but it was a preview of coming attractions. On the final day, 18-year-old outfielder John Paciorek had a career. He got three hits, scored four times and drove in three runs. Paciorek hurt his neck the following spring and never played in the majors again, retiring with a 1.000 career big league batting average. For a team in search of direction, at least the Colts weren't dull.

9th place, National League

C John Bateman 1059.210
1B Rusty Staub 645.224
2B Johnny Temple 117.264
3B Bob Aspromonte 849.214
SS Bob Lillis 119.198
LF Al Spangler 427.281
CF Howie Goss 944.209
RF Carl Warwick 747.254
IF Pete Runnels 223.253
OF Jim Wynn 427.244
IF Ernie Fazio 25.184
C Jim Campbell 419.222
Key PitchersWLERA
SP Ken Johnson 11172.65
SP Dick Farrell 14133.02
SP Don Nottebart 1183.17
SP Bob Bruce 593.59
SP Hal Brown 5113.31
CL Hal Woodeshick 1191.97
RP Don McMahon 154.05
RP Jim Umbricht 432.61
RP Dick Drott 2124.98

Nottebart: Franchise's first no-hitter.
(c) Houston Astros

All-Rookie Lineup: included four future All-Stars on the right - Jim Wynn, Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, Jerry Grote.
(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)
Bob Aspromonte: Blind Faith. Excerpted from a 2008 documentary, this re-tells the special relationship between Bob Aspromonte and a boy blinded by lightning. (9:52, Fox Sports Net (caution: large file))

Apr 9, 1963 Rusty Staub's first big league hit comes on Opening Day.(0:38, Passe)
May 17, 1963 Don Nottebart gets Houston's first no-hitter.(0:40, Elston)
Jun 2, 1963 Hal Woodeshick closes a 17-inning win over Milwaukee.(0:40, Herskowitz)
Jun 3, 1963 Rusty Staub's first major league homer is off a Hall-of-Famer.(0:26, Passe)
Jun 7, 1963 Carl Warwick beats the Giants in the tenth inning.(0:31, Elston)
Jul 4, 1963 Jim Campbell belts a grand slam against the Reds.(0:49, Elston)
Jul 10, 1963 Jim Wynn slaps his first hit in the big leagues.(0:23, Elston)
Jul 26, 1963 Bob Aspromonte hits a grand slam for a boy in the stands.(1:43, Elston)
Aug 26, 1963 Rookie John Bateman makes a tour of the bases.(0:58, Passe)
Sep 29, 1963 Rookie John Paciorek creates history in his only major league game.(1:18, Kiner - Mets)
Nov 1, 1963 Judge Roy Hofheinz speaks at the topping of the domed stadium.(0:34, Hofheinz, Elston)

Trades and Transactions

Nov 1 1962 - signed Joe Morgan(IF) as free agent

Nov 26 1962 - traded Roman Mejias(OF) to Bos-A for Pete Runnels(P)

Nov 26 1962 - Winter Major League Draft
- drafted Jim Wynn(OF) from Cin-N
- drafted Conrad Cardinal(P) from Det-A

Nov 30 1962 - paid cash to Mil-N for Don Nottebart(P)

Nov 30 1962 - traded Joe Amalfitano(IF) to SF-N for Dick LeMay(P) and Manny Mota(OF)

Nov 30 1962 - traded Norm Larker(IF) to Mil-N for Jim Bolger(OF) and Connie Grob(P)

Dec 10 1962 - traded Dick Williams(OF) to Bos-A for Carroll Hardy(OF)

1963 - signed Leon McFadden(IF) as free agent

Mar 28 1963 - traded Merritt Ranew(C), Hal Haydel, and Dick LeMay to Chi-N for Danny Murphy and Jug Gerard

Apr 4 1963 - traded Manny Mota to Pit-N for Howie Goss(OF) and cash

Apr 21 1963 - paid cash to NY-A for Hal Brown(P)

May 16 1963 - signed Ivan Murrell(OF) as free agent

May 19 1963 - signed Walt Williams(OF) as free agent

Jun 1963 - signed Larry Howard(C) as free agent

Jun 14 1963 - signed Jay Dahl(P) as free agent

Jul 14 1963 - sent George Brunet(P) to Bal-A for cash

Sep 1963 - signed Steve Hertz(IF) as free agent

Sep 30 1963 - sent Don McMahon(P) to Cle-A for cash

Oct 1 1963 - released Hal Smith(C)

Oct 1 1963 - released Johnny Temple(IF)

Oct 9 1963 - sent Jim Campbell(C) to Cin-N for cash

Oct 10 1963 - paid $30,000 to Mil-N for Clayde Raymond(P)