The All-Rookie Game
September 27, 1963
by Darrell Pittman
The Colt .45s' All-Rookie Team
Back row: Brock Davis (LF), Aaron Pointer (RF), Jimmy Wynn (CF)
Middle row: Glenn Vaughan (3B), Sonny Jackson (SS), Joe Morgan (2B), Rusty Staub (1B)
Front row: Jay Dahl (P), Jerry Grote (C)
(c) Houston Astros
Game Recap   Box Score and Play by Play
In the closing series of their sophomore season, the fledgling Houston Colt .45s faced flagging attendance.
In an effort to bolster gate receipts, the front office decided to try something new: field a team composed entirely of rookies. No major league team had tried it before, and none has done so since. It was a unique occurrence in the history of Major League Baseball.
Two days before the end of the regular season, on September 27, 1963, at Houston's Colt Stadium in a game against their expansion twins, the New York Mets, the Colt .45s fielded an all-rookie team. Their average age was 19. It was MLB's youngest-ever starting lineup.
Starting pitcher Jay Dahl, 17 years old, was a last-minute replacement for fellow-rookie Larry Yellen, who was observing a religious holiday. Dahl held the Mets scoreless in the first inning, but gave up three runs on three hits, a wild pitch, and a fielding error by Brock Davis.
Another rookie, 19-year-old Danny Coombs, replacing Dahl, gave up three more hits and a wild pitch. Rookie Joe Hoerner pitched Houston out of a jam in the fourth, but by that time, the Colt .45s were down 8-0.
Houston fielded, in all, 15 rookies before finally inserting veteran Carl Warwick in the eighth inning.
Joe Morgan's ninth-inning triple was Houston's only extra-base hit of the day. The only other Colt scoring was on a pair of singles by Rusty Staub.
The last-place Mets ended up giving Houston a 10-3 drubbing.
Copyright © 2002, Darrell Pittman and AstrosDaily.com. All Rights Reserved.
Houston's team of tomorrow found the going rather rough in the here and now Friday night. The New York Mets, the big bullies, whomped them, 10-3, in the opener of the season's final series at Colt Stadium.
As promised, Manager Harry Craft started an all rookie line-up, and he stuck by it through thin and thinner. Fifteen Colts saw service before a non-rookie, Carl Warwick, entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth. The Mets took advantage of Houston's youth, as the saying goes, to pound five pitchers for 15 hits and make life easy for Lefty Al Jackson.
Nevertheless, the night was an historic one for the Colt .45s.
Chunky Jay Dahl, a 17-year-old southpaw from California, became the youngest pitcher to start a game in the majors since Joe Nuxhall made his wartime debut for the Redlegs in 1945, at 16. Von McDaniel was a mature gentleman of 18 when he made headlines for the Cardinals in 1957, fresh out of high school in Oklahoma.
One of the highlights of the game came in the next inning, when the Mets seemed headed for another big rally. But with runners at second and third and one out, Lefty Joe Hoerner struck out Tim Harkness, and the crowd appreciated it. They cheered loudly, and a moment later the inning was over.
You could forgive the Colt rookies if they were a bit jittery Friday night. Five of them had never played pro ball before this year, and three of them were starting for the first time in a major league game, sort of. It may be stretching a point to say that Dahl had a major league lineup behind him. And if you wanted to be unkind -- and why not? -- you could say it was doubtful that he had one facing him.
The Colts started their greenhorn squad for the novelty of it, and out of curiosity, and just possibly for the sake of a little publicity. There was no reason to be disappointed, except, that this ended Houston's four-game winning streak.
Ol' Casey Stengel didn't exactly play fair. He started his best pitcher, Jackson, who is even tough on adults. Al wasn't at his sharpest Friday night, but the Colts could do little with the several chances they had.
Jackson gave up 11 hits, and at least one Colt reached base in every blessed inning. But he struck out eight, and Houston left 12 bodies on base. Al more or less coasted to his 13th victory against 17 defeats. Rusty Staub scored the first Colt run in the fourth and drove in the second an inning later, and then Joe Morgan tripled home the last one in the ninth. There were .45s at first and third when Jackson retired the next three hitters to end the game.
Jim Wynn and Aaron Pointer were the only Houston starters old enough to vote Friday night. When the rookie Colt pitchers got in trouble it was Staub who walked over to give them a comforting word, as befits a veteran of 19.
Dahl, Coombs and Hoerner -- all southpaws -- went the first six innings, before rookie right-hander Jim Dickson came on. Dick Drott pitched the ninth, giving up the final Met run. Hoerner, 24, and up from San Antonio, did a fine job in his three-inning chore, blanking the Mets on two hits and striking out two.
The average age of the Houston team that took the field Friday night was 19 years and four months, a fact that has been rather widely advertised. So it was duly noted in the press box that when Rod Kanehl replaced Frank Thomas in left field in the eighth, it lowered the Met average to 32 years and four months.
The fact that the Colt rookies failed to win did not exactly ruin the night. They provided some sort of thrill on almost every play as typified by Brock Davis in left field. He overran one base hit and dropped a fly ball for an error, then made two spectacular catches, one facing the wall in left center and another into the Houston bullpen.
So the Colts still need one victory to surpass last year's total, and they send Don Nottebart after it Saturday at 1:30 PM against New York's Craig Anderson.
It was an attention-attracting move on the part of the Houston Colts management, starting an all-rookie team averaging 19 years of age.
It dramatized the Colts' huge effort to corral young players in hopes of building a pennant contender here. But it is a long step from the minors to the majors -- even that part of the majors inhabited by the Houston Colts and the New York Mets. The Mets routed the youngsters, 10-3, before 5,802 fans Friday night at Colt Stadium.
So while the display was showy but worthwhile, there likely won't be any undue clamor from the fans to see it again. It was a success in conception, but a failure in execution.
The season closes Sunday afternoon with Chris Zachary (2-2) scheduled to toss for Houston.
Suspense Ends Early
Friday night's suspense ended early. The Mets piled up an 8-0 lead in the first three innings. "It could have been a lot closer game if we had caught the ball early in the game," manager Harry Craft said. "They didn't hit Dahl so hard."
Jay Dahl, a 17-year-old who graduated from Bloomington, Cal., High School last June, started for Houston. The Mets roughed him up for three runs in the second inning on three hits, a pair of errors and a wild pitch. The Mets really tore it for the Colts in the third with seven hits off Dahl and Dan Coombs for five runs.
Best Mound Job
Joe Hoerner, who was out of this age contest at 24 years, turned in the best mound job for Houston with three innings of scoreless work after that early Met breakthrough. The Mets added a run off Jim Dickson, an error setting it up, in the seventh and another off Dick Drott in the ninth.
Houston got its runs as singletons as Al Jackson pitched his 13th win of the year. He had lost 17 but he had never had it so good on the Mets as Friday night. He gave up 11 hits, three walks, suffered from two errors, and still breezed to the distance without a moment of real anxiety.
Rusty Staub and Aaron Pointer singled in order to open the fourth, and Brock Davis' grounder scored a run. Hoerner reached base on an error in the fifth and later scored on Staub's single.
Joe Morgan tripled to score Ernie Fazio in the ninth.
Houston leads New York, 11-5, in the season's schedule.
Game of Friday, 9/27/1963 -- New York at Houston Courtesy of Retrosheet New York AB R H RBI Houston AB R H RBI Christopher J, rf 4 0 1 1 Jackson S, ss 3 0 0 0 Smith D, cf 5 1 1 0 Fazio E, 3b 1 1 0 0 Hunt R, 2b 5 1 1 1 Morgan J, 2b 5 0 2 1 Schreiber T, 2b 0 0 0 0 Wynn J, cf 4 0 2 0 Thomas F, lf 5 1 2 0 Staub R, 1b 5 1 2 1 Kanehl R, lf 0 0 0 0 Pointer A, rf 5 0 1 0 Hickman J, 3b 5 1 3 1 Davis B, lf 5 0 1 1 Harkness T, 1b 5 2 1 0 Vaughan G, 3b-ss 4 0 2 0 Kranepool E, 1b 0 0 0 0 Grote J, c 3 0 1 0 Cannizzaro C, c 4 2 1 2 Adlesh D, c 1 0 0 0 Moran A, ss 5 2 3 2 Dahl J, p 0 0 0 0 Jackson A, p 5 0 2 1 Coombs D, p 0 0 0 0 Weekly J, ph 0 0 0 0 Hoerner J, p 1 1 0 0 White M, ph 1 0 0 0 Dickson J, p 0 0 0 0 Warwick C, ph 1 0 0 0 Drott D, p 0 0 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 43 10 15 8 39 3 11 3 New York 035 000 101 -- 10 Houston 000 110 001 -- 3 New York IP H R ER BB SO Jackson A (W) 9.0 11 3 1 3 8 Houston IP H R ER BB SO Dahl J (L) 2.2 7 7 5 0 0 Coombs D 0.1 3 1 1 0 0 Hoerner J 3.0 2 0 0 0 2 Dickson J 2.0 1 1 0 1 0 Drott D 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 E -- Davis B 2, Jackson S, Harkness T, Hickman J LOB -- New York 8, Houston 12 2B -- Hunt R, Hickman J, Harkness T 3B -- Morgan J CS -- Wynn J SF -- Cannizzaro C WP -- Dahl J, Drott D PB -- Grote J T -- 2:38 A -- 5,802
Play by Play
Retrosheet Play-by-Play Account Game of Friday, 9/27/1963 -- New York Mets at Houston Colts Starting Lineups: New York Houston 1. rf Joe Christopher ss Sonny Jackson 2. cf Dick Smith 2b Joe Morgan 3. 2b Ron Hunt cf Jim Wynn 4. lf Frank Thomas 1b Rusty Staub 5. 3b Jim Hickman rf Aaron Pointer 6. 1b Tim Harkness lf Brock Davis 7. c Chris Cannizzaro 3b Glenn Vaughan 8. ss Al Moran c Jerry Grote 9. p Al Jackson p Jay Dahl METS 1ST: J.Christopher grounded out (S.Jackson to R.Staub); All rookie lineup for Houston ML debut Jay Dahl; D.Smith grounded out (J.Morgan to R.Staub); R.Hunt lined to R.Staub; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Mets 0, Colts 0. COLTS 1ST: ML debut Sonny Jackson; S.Jackson lined to T.Harkness; J.Morgan struck out; J.Wynn singled to center field; J.Wynn was caught stealing second (C.Cannizzaro to A.Moran); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Mets 0, Colts 0. METS 2ND: F.Thomas singled to right field; J.Dahl threw a wild pitch [F.Thomas to second]; J.Hickman singled to left field [F.Thomas scored (no RBI) (error by B.Davis), J.Hickman to second]; T.Harkness grounded out (R.Staub unassisted) [J.Hickman to third]; C.Cannizzaro grounded out (S.Jackson to R.Staub) [J.Hickman scored (unearned)]; A.Moran reached on an error by S.Jackson [A.Moran to second]; A.Jackson singled to center field [A.Moran scored (unearned)]; J.Christopher flied to A.Pointer; 3 R (1 ER), 3 H, 2 E, 1 LOB. Mets 3, Colts 0. COLTS 2ND: R.Staub flied to D.Smith; A.Pointer popped to R.Hunt; B.Davis singled to right field; G.Vaughan singled to center field [B.Davis to second]; J.Grote struck out; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Mets 3, Colts 0. METS 3RD: D.Smith singled to left field; R.Hunt doubled to left field [D.Smith scored]; F.Thomas popped to R.Staub in foul territory; J.Hickman singled to right field [R.Hunt scored]; T.Harkness forced J.Hickman (S.Jackson to J.Morgan) [T.Harkness to first]; C.Cannizzaro singled to right field [T.Harkness to third]; D.COOMBS REPLACED J.DAHL (PITCHING); ML debut Danny Coombs; J.Grote allowed a passed ball [T.Harkness scored, C.Cannizzaro to second]; A.Moran singled to right field [C.Cannizzaro scored]; A.Jackson singled to center field [A.Moran to second]; J.Christopher singled to center field [A.Moran scored, A.Jackson to third, J.Christopher to second (on throw)]; D.Smith grounded out (D.Coombs to R.Staub); 5 R, 7 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 0. COLTS 3RD: J.WEEKLY BATTED FOR D.COOMBS; J.Weekly walked; S.Jackson lined to A.Moran; J.Morgan flied to J.Christopher; J.Wynn flied to J.Christopher; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 0. METS 4TH: J.HOERNER REPLACED J.WEEKLY (PITCHING); ML debut Joe Hoerner; R.Hunt popped to J.Morgan; F.Thomas singled to left field; J.Hickman doubled to left field [F.Thomas to third]; T.Harkness struck out; C.Cannizzaro lined to B.Davis; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 0. COLTS 4TH: R.Staub singled to right field; A.Pointer singled to center field [R.Staub to third]; B.Davis forced A.Pointer (T.Harkness to A.Moran) [R.Staub scored, B.Davis to first]; G.Vaughan grounded out (A.Jackson to T.Harkness) [B.Davis to second]; J.Grote was called out on strikes; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 1. METS 5TH: A.Moran grounded out (G.Vaughan to R.Staub); A.Jackson flied to J.Wynn; J.Christopher popped to R.Staub in foul territory; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 1. COLTS 5TH: J.Hoerner reached on an error by T.Harkness [J.Hoerner to first]; S.Jackson struck out; J.Morgan singled to right field [J.Hoerner to second]; J.Wynn lined to J.Christopher; R.Staub singled to right field [J.Hoerner scored (unearned), J.Morgan to third]; A.Pointer lined to J.Christopher; 1 R (0 ER), 2 H, 1 E, 2 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 2. METS 6TH: E.FAZIO REPLACED S.JACKSON (PLAYING 3B); G.VAUGHAN CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING SS); D.Smith grounded out (G.Vaughan to R.Staub); R.Hunt struck out; F.Thomas grounded out (J.Hoerner to R.Staub); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 2. COLTS 6TH: B.Davis grounded out (R.Hunt to T.Harkness); G.Vaughan flied to D.Smith; J.Grote singled to center field; M.WHITE BATTED FOR J.HOERNER; M.White grounded out (J.Hickman to T.Harkness); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 8, Colts 2. METS 7TH: D.ADLESH REPLACED J.GROTE (PLAYING C); J.DICKSON REPLACED M.WHITE (PITCHING); J.Hickman grounded out (G.Vaughan to R.Staub); T.Harkness popped to J.Morgan; C.Cannizzaro reached on an error by B.Davis [C.Cannizzaro to second]; A.Moran singled to center field [C.Cannizzaro scored (unearned)]; A.Jackson flied to B.Davis; 1 R (0 ER), 1 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Mets 9, Colts 2. COLTS 7TH: E.Fazio walked; J.Morgan grounded out (J.Hickman to T.Harkness) [E.Fazio to second]; J.Wynn singled to shortstop; R.Staub popped to R.Hunt; A.Pointer grounded out (A.Moran to T.Harkness); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Mets 9, Colts 2. METS 8TH: J.Christopher walked; D.Smith flied to B.Davis; R.Hunt grounded out (G.Vaughan to R.Staub) [J.Christopher to second]; F.Thomas flied to J.Wynn; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 9, Colts 2. COLTS 8TH: R.KANEHL REPLACED F.THOMAS (PLAYING LF); B.Davis struck out; G.Vaughan singled to left field; D.Adlesh struck out; C.WARWICK BATTED FOR J.DICKSON; C.Warwick grounded out (J.Hickman to T.Harkness); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 9, Colts 2. METS 9TH: D.DROTT REPLACED C.WARWICK (PITCHING); J.Hickman flied to B.Davis in foul territory; T.Harkness doubled to left field; D.Drott threw a wild pitch [T.Harkness to third]; C.Cannizzaro out on a sacrifice fly to J.Wynn [T.Harkness scored]; A.Moran singled to right field; A.Jackson popped to G.Vaughan; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Mets 10, Colts 2. COLTS 9TH: T.SCHREIBER REPLACED R.HUNT (PLAYING 2B); E.KRANEPOOL REPLACED T.HARKNESS (PLAYING 1B); E.Fazio reached on an error by J.Hickman [E.Fazio to first]; J.Morgan tripled to right field [E.Fazio scored (unearned)]; J.Wynn walked; R.Staub struck out; A.Pointer struck out; B.Davis grounded out (A.Jackson to E.Kranepool); 1 R (0 ER), 1 H, 1 E, 2 LOB. Mets 10, Colts 3. Final Totals R H E LOB Mets 10 15 2 8 Colts 3 11 3 12