Houston's baseball beginnings

The birth of professional baseball in Houston started with a bang

The 2012 Astros sport throwback Colt 45's uniforms. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Fifty-five years ago, the Houston Astros entered Major League Baseball — just not as the Astros. Back then, they were the Colt 45s. Named after the gun. Before establishing a pro team, Houston had a minor league team from 1888 until 1961 that went by the name of the Houston Buffaloes. In 1962, Major League Baseball allowed the Houston team to enter the National League along with the New York Mets as expansion franchises.

The first job was coming up with a name. The owners of the new franchise crowdsourced the idea to people around Houston. They held a “Name the Team” contest that was eventually won by William Irving Neder. The Houstonian argued that the Colt .45 was emblematic of the Texas frontier’s reputation and fit well with Houston’s image. The owners agreed, and the Colt .45s were born.

On opening day of 1962, the Colt .45s won their first game 11-2 against the Cubs behind a six RBI day from Roman Melias, playing in front of 25,271 people at Colt Stadium. From there, the team went through mostly early expansion woes. The Colt .45s went 196-288 over their first three seasons. Then, three years later, the Colt .45s were gone. It wasn’t because the name was mediocre. There was just a clearly better option.

America’s Manned Spacecraft Center, which was a training facility for astronauts, was 25 miles from Houston. In a little over two years, Houston becoming the epicenter of American space exploration completely altered the country-wide perception of the city. It became known as the home of astronauts, so the new team name ideally would reflect that.

One of the primary reasons Houston was granted a franchise in the first place was the promise of a new stadium. The idea was that Houston would have a beautiful place with modern amenities that would be high-tech to mirror the burgeoning space program in the city. The stadium would be climate controlled so that summertime Houston heat would not discourage fans from coming to day games.

In January 1962, a ceremony was held at the site of the dome where Colt .45s (the guns, not the team) were shot into the flat, bare land. Three years later, the city delivered when it unveiled a brand-new domed stadium. The name of the structure: the Astrodome. With a home called the Astrodome, it was only a matter of time until the name changed. The new name announcement came on December 1, 1964.

The president of the club, Judge Ray Hofheinz, told the UPI that the change was to keep up with the times and that “the name was taken from the stars and indicated we are on the ascendancy.” He also said that Houston “is the space age capital of the world and with our new domed stadium, we think it will also make Houston the sports capital of the world.”

Over a half-century later, the Astros are still the Astros, even if the Astrodome isn’t where they play. But, no matter how many times they change venues or names, the Astros will always be the original Colt .45s.

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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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