Results tagged ‘ Colt .45s ’

Triggerettes, Earthmen, epic homers and soul-crushing losses: Brownie’s new book covers all the bases.

I always said if I could hop on a time machine and live through whatever era of Astros baseball I wanted, I’d definitely plant myself around the 1986 team. It had everything — personality, fun, a little intellect sprinkled in here and there, and, most importantly, those zany guys won 96 games. What could be better?

But after reading through Bill Brown’s new book chronicling five decades of Houston baseball, I’m thinking I’d like to try out 1964-ish, just before the Colt .45s moved out of their smoking hot, skeeter-infested outdoor stadium and into their new air-conditioned domed wonder.

It’s not that I’m anxious to witness outdoor baseball in Houston in August. Goodness no. I just think it would be fun to be a Triggerette.

Tiggerettes were, as best as I can tell, neatly dressed and presumably perfectly coifed young women who guided patrons to their seats. They fit in with a full-blown Wild West vibe that was working at Colt Stadium back in those days, when parking attendants wore orange Stetsons and workers in The Fast Draw Club dressed in old-style saloon attire.

Had I made it through a sweltering summer at the old ballpark, I probably would have had a good chance to make the cut and move with the team to the Astrodome. But I would have had to change my title from Triggerette to Space-ette, a small price to pay considering the Stetson-wearing parking attendants were renamed Space Finders, and if you wanted to be part of the grounds crew, you had to answer to “Earthman.”

You have to love how different things were back then. The notion that an entire baseball team would dress in matching blue suits and pose on the steps of their team plane HOLDING GUNS (guns!) sounds absurd in today’s age, of course. But that’s part of why history is so fascinating. It takes us back to a time that was, more or less, completely foreign to anything that has to do with everyday life as we currently know it.

Brown’s book, “Deep in the Heart: Blazing a Trail from Expansion to the World Series,” was a labor of love he started years ago, and with the assistance of co-author and Astros employee Mike Acosta, the longtime Astros broadcaster has produced a fabulous 192-page pictorial look back at Houston’s 50-plus years of baseball history.

The book will be ready for sale on March 31 — Opening Night — at Minute Maid Park. The cost will be $39.95.

How long and hard did Brownie work on this book? He pretty much summed it up with this comment to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

“If there were such a thing as a woman being pregnant for three years and being relieved when she finally has a baby, it’s somewhat akin to that.”

What took this book so long to complete is probably what makes it so good: it seems that Brownie talked to every living figure who significantly contributed to Astros history. As you thumb through, you’ll find descriptions of every epic moment in history, told by the very people who were directly involved.

I loved Billy Hatcher describing his 14th-inning home run in Game of the NLCS as “probably the closest thing I’ll ever do to get to heaven.” Brad Ausmus gave some great insight into the 18-inning Division Series clincher in ’05, which ended with a Chris Burke home run into the Crawford Boxes. Larry Dierker, a gifted writer in his own right, is quoted multiple times throughout the book — fitting, given how much he has been a part of every decade of the franchise’s history.

Brownie was kind enough to send along a few pages so we can give you a sneak peek of “Deep in the Heart.” For die-hard fans (and newbies too), this will make a great keepsake.

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More info on Colt .45s jerseys on sale to the public, plus thoughts on old ballparks: Charming? Or a “dump”?

Many of you have asked about the availability of the Colt .45s jerseys and caps for purchase. Here’s the skinny:

* Both are available in the Astros Team Store at Minute Maid Park and will be sold throughout the season. Originally the plan was to sell them only in April, but the response has been tremendous, prompting the merchandise folks to extend the availability for the remainder of the season.

* Throwback jerseys and caps are available at the Team Store only. They will not be sold online.

* The Colt .45s items are not the only throwbacks being sold. Also available currently are the Shooting Star jerseys and caps and the Rainbow jerseys and caps. The white jersey with the gold star is not yet in the store but will be in the near future.

* The prices vary. Jerseys will start at around $250. The caps will range from $35 to $40.

* Game-worn throwback jerseys/caps will be sold at the Astros Authentics kiosk on the main concourse, behind the home plate area. They will be sold, obviously, after the final game that the team wears the items. The Colt .45s items — sold together as a jersey/cap package – will be sold starting April 21. The prices for those will be higher than non-game worn uniforms. Each item will be authenticated by Major League Baseball. Throwback helmets are also being produced, and those will be sold separately.

* The Astros will wear the same Colt .45s uniforms on April 20 as they wore last week on the big anniversary day. If you missed it the first time, here’s the link for tickets to the next one.

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I had to chuckle a little when I read former Astros outfielder Luke Scott again made headlines with seemingly controversial comments on topics sensitive to certain sections of baseball’s fanbase.

Rather than discussing guns and politics, this time, Scott — now a member of the Rays — had some interesting observations about Fenway Park, the old and famed home of the Boston Red Sox.

Scott doesn’t much care for the ballpark, referring to it as a “dump” with less-than-desirable working conditions.

“As a baseball player, going there to work, it’s a dump,” Scott said to MLB.com. “I mean, it’s old. It does have a great feel and nostalgia, but at the end of the day, I’d rather be at a good facility where I can get my work in. A place where I can go hit the cage, where I have space and it’s a little more comfortable to come to work.

“You’re packed in like sardines there. It’s hard to get your work in. …You have to go to their weight room if you want to lift. From a fan’s perspective, it’s probably pretty cool to go see a game at a historic park. But from a player’s point of view, it’s not a place where you want to go to work.”

While this stuff is music to the ears of reporters always looking for tidbits that will give them an edge over the colleagues they compete with daily, in reality, what Scott said isn’t all that controversial. For one thing, he’s right.

From a fan’s standpoint, the old ballparks are nostalgic and wonderful. But for those who make a living in baseball — the players, managers, coaches, athletic training staffs, reporters, and on and on — old and nostalgic and wonderful usually translates to one word: inconvenient.

That’s not a complaint necessarily. It’s just reality. For example, there is no place in baseball I love more than Wrigley Field. It’s baseball heaven. The scenery. The atmosphere. The neighborhood setting. There’s no Jumbotron, no between-inning gimmicks, no Kiss Cam, no t-shirt tosses. It’s just, plain and simple, baseball, in the most traditional sense.

But working there? Well…

As a visitor, you figure out how to make it work. You climb endless ramps to the very tip-top to get to the press box. (There’s one elevator, somewhere, but it’s far away and no one uses it.) The quarters are cramped. The broadcasts booths are teeny tiny. The press box area is a decent size, but it’s normally packed and you have to listen to radio reporters screaming in-game updates back to their stations every 30 minutes.

If you want to have any chance at all to get to the clubhouse in time for it to open postgame, you have to start the journey before the game is over — at the top of the ninth when your team is losing, and at the bottom if your team is winning. If you don’t get a head start, you will be stuck in ramp traffic for a good 20 minutes and will miss the manager’s session.

Hardships? Nah. It’s still a great place to be. Inconvenient? You bet.

Scott’s word choice — sardines — has been uttered by just about every player who has ever passed through the visiting clubhouses at both Fenway and Wrigley. Mobility does not exist. The weight room is in the home clubhouse. Reporters have to be careful when they’re interviewing players in the far corner, so as to not end up in the bathroom, standing near someone who might be utilizing the facilities.

(When the Astros played at Fenway in 2003, Jimy Williams held a team meeting in the shower area. Truly.)

I know what you’re thinking B-O-O H-O-O. Yea, I hear you. Rough life. Really, it’s not. Any day you’re working at Wrigley, or Fenway, or anywhere in Major League Baseball, it’s a very, very good day. We love it. That’s why we do it.

But what’s sometimes hard for fans to understand is that this is very much a job. Ballplayers go to the park every day with a list of things they need to do, just like anyone in the working world. And as much appreciation as they have for the old, historic ballparks, and as much as they enjoy the experience once the first pitch is thrown, the work day, as a whole, is challenging. They’re happy to be there, but prefer to be elsewhere.

What you see on TV is, in fact, wonderful. Behind the scenes can be something entirely different.

To illustrate:

If you were a player, would you rather hang out here, at Wrigley...

...or here, in Houston?

Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond are a close-knit duo, especially when they have no choice while calling games from Wrigley.

Brownie and J.D. taped their opening segment while trying not to sit on each other.

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Life on the road sounds glamorous, but when you do this long enough, you learn to appreciate the simple things. My ideal criteria while traveling:

Hotel:
1. A place nearby to get a good cup of coffee in the morning
2. Wireless access that actually works.
3. A short walk to the ballpark.
4. A place nearby that stays open late enough after games to get a beverage tastier and more effective than, say, Mountain Dew.
Ballpark:
1. A convenient path to the press box and clubhouse.
2. Wireless access that actually works.
3. A decent meal in the media dining room that does not include fried foods, old deli meat or things cooked in lard.
4. A spacious press box that allows for a decent amount of space between and McTaggart and yours truly.

That is it. That is why I look forward to the trips to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee and a few other cities that normally wouldn’t seem like destination spots. Great restaurants and hip nightlife? No thanks. I just want to be able to get online and enjoy a hot cup o’ Joe.

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The stars come out to celebrate the Astros/Colt .45s big birthday.

Two former Colt .45s: Jimmy Wynn and Bob Aspromonte

It’s probably a good thing that the Colt .45s changed their name to the Astros after three years, if only because “Aspro the Colt” just doesn’t have the same cool ring to it as “Aspro the Astro.”

Bob Aspromonte, an original Colt .45 and an original Astro, was in uniform as the starting third baseman 50 years ago when Major League Baseball was born in Houston. It’s only fitting that he was the guest of honor for a slew of activities on Tuesday, the exact 50th anniversary of the first game the Colt .45s played as a National League franchise.

Aspromonte headlined the introduction of the Astros new Walk of Fame, recently installed on the sidewalk of Texas Ave. near Crawford St. The original inductees include Aspromonte, all of the Astros retired numbers (Jim Umbricht, Don Wilson, Jose Cruz, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio), plus broadcasters Gene Elston and Milo Hamilton.

Aspromonte was voted by a panel of experts as the best Houston player of the 1960s. The Astros will unveil the best player from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s on a month-by-month basis beginning in May and their names to the Walk of Fame.

Video from the Walk of Fame induction:

Photo album:

Aspromonte, Dierker, Cruuuuuuz

Aspromonte spoke glowingly of the Astrodome, which opened in 1965. It was obviously a gigantic step up from the old Colt Stadium, where Aspro played the first three years of his Houston baseball career.

Cruz next to his Walk of Fame plaque

Group shot: front: Elston, Wynn. Back: Cruz, Aspromonte, Dierker, Hamilton.

Aspromonte's Walk of Fame plaque

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Houston franchise, the Astros wore the Colt .45s jerseys during their game with the Braves. The club also honored several living members of that inaugural team that began a new era of baseball on April 10, 1962: Carl Warwick, Hal Smith, Al Spangler, Bob Bruce and Aspromonte. Also introduced: Rick Cagney, one of the original bat boys for the 1962 team; Elston, the first broadcaster for the ’45s, and Rene Cardenas, who broadcast both Colt .45s and Astros games in Spanish.

Warwick, Smith, Spangler, Bruce, Aspromonte, Cagney

Cardenas

Brad Mills greets Aspromonte and the Colt .45s alumni before the ceremonial first pitch.

Aspromonte throws the pitch. It was indeed a strike.

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Upon entering the clubhouse earlier in the day, players were sized for their Colt .45s cap that they were to wear during the game (they’ll wear the same uniforms on April 20 on the first official Flashback Friday). They also were given a sneak peek at the stirrups the Colt .45s wore 50 years ago.

I’m sure these strirrups were innovative and super-hip in the 1960s, but today, they’re a little funky. Judging from the players’ continued willingness to keep wearing the high socks, though, you have to assume funky can still be a good thing, even today.

Lucas Harrell was digging his stirrups.

Jose Altuve

Junction Jack

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