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The Houston Astros is a major league baseball team located in Houston, Texas. The Astros are a member of the Central Division. From 2000 to the present, the Astros have played their home games at Minute Maid Park (originally named Enron Field). The Astros joined MLB under the name Colt .45s along with the New York Mets in 1962. The Astros' current owner is Drayton McLane, Jr., Minute Maid orange juice which has the naming rights to the stadium, also is a minority owner of the Astros.

The Astros have had one World Series appearance in their history, 2005 against the Chicago White Sox. They have made the postseason nine times (4 as Central Division champs, 3 as Western Division champs, twice as the wild card).

The Colt .45s started their inaugural season on April 10, 1962, against the Chicago Cubs with Harry Craft as their manager. The Colt .45s finished eighth among the National League's ten teams. To get an idea of how the first season was for Houston, the team's best pitcher, Richard "Turk" Farrell, had an ERA of 3.02 in 1962 but still lost 20 games. A starter for the Colt .45s, he was primarily a relief pitcher prior to playing for Houston. Farrell was selected to both All-Star games that year.

There was a bright spot in the line up in 1962. Román Mejías, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the expansion draft, was named the Colt .45s starting right fielder. It was in Houston that Mejías would play the best season of his career. Although an injury slowed him the second half of the season, Mejías finished with a .286 batting average, 24 home runs, and 76 RBIs. His modesty and his hard play made him a fan favorite that year. Despite his good year Mejías was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the fall of 1962.

1963 saw more young talent mixed with seasoned veterans. Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub, and Joe Morgan all made their major league debuts in the 1963 season. However, Houston's position in the standings did not improve. In fact, the Colt .45s finished in ninth place with a 66–96 record. The team was still building, trying to find that perfect mix to compete. Craft had plenty of rookies to play and on September 27 he fielded an all rookie team versus the New York Mets. Houston lost 10–3 but it was a glimpse of what was to come in the next few seasons.

The 1964 campaign began on a sad note. Pitcher Jim Umbricht died of cancer just before opening day. Umbricht was the only Colt .45s pitcher to post winning records in the Colt .45s first two seasons. So well liked by players and fans the Colt .45 retired his Jersey number 32 in 1965. Umbricht was 33 years old.

On the field the 1964 Colt .45s got off to a quick start, but it would not last. Craft was fired presumably for wanting to play more experienced players, which conflicted with the team management's desire to showcase the young up and coming talent. Craft was replaced by one of the Colt .45s coaches, Luman Harris. One player the front office wanted to showcase was teenage pitcher Larry Dierker. He started versus the San Francisco Giants on his eighteenth birthday. He lost the game but it was the beginning of a long relationship with the Houston organization.

Just on the horizon the structure of the new domed stadium was more prevalent and the way baseball was watched in Houston, and around the league, was about to change.

With Judge Roy Hofheinz now the sole owner of the franchise and his vision of an indoor venue complete, the Colt .45s moved into their new domed stadium in 1965. The judge called the new domed stadium the Astrodome. The name was in honor of Houston's importance to the country's space program and to match with the meaning of the name, the Colt .45s were renamed the Astros.[7] The new park, coined as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" did little to help the play on the field. While several "indoor" firsts were accomplished, the team still finished ninth in the standings. The attendance was high not because of the team accomplishments, but because people came from miles around to see the Astrodome.

Main article: 1966 Houston Astros season
Just as the excitement was settling down over the Astrodome, the 1966 season found something new to put the domed stadium in the spotlight once again -- the field. Grass would not grow in the new park, since the roof panels had been painted to reduce the glare that was causing players on both the Astros and the visiting team to miss routine pop flies. A new artificial turf was created called "AstroTurf" and once again Houston would be involved in yet another change in the way the game was played.

With new manager Grady Hatton the Astros got hot right away. By May they were in second place in the National League and looked like a team that could contend. Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, an Astros first, and Morgan was named as a starter on the All-Star Team. The Astros cooled as quickly as they got hot. They lost Jimmy Wynn for the season after he crashed into an outfield fence in Philadelphia and Morgan had broken his knee cap. There were some good notes however. Sonny Jackson set a league record with 49 steals, and led the Astros with a .292 batting average. The Astros were a young team full of talented position players (Morgan, Staub, Jackson, and Wynn) and pitchers (Mike Cuellar, Larry Dierker, and Don Wilson) but their play was still not consistent.

1967 saw Eddie Mathews join the Astros, where he played first base. The slugger hit his 500th home run while in Houston. He would be traded late in the season and Doug Rader would be promoted to the big leagues. Rookie Wilson pitched a no hitter on June 18, Father's Day, against the Braves. It was the first no hit, shut out, pitched in team history and in the Astrodome. Wynn also provided some enthusiasm in 1967. The 5 ft 9 in Wynn was becoming known not only for how often he hit home runs, but also for how far he hit them. Wynn set club records with 37 home runs, and 107 RBIs. It was also in 1967 where Wynn would hit his famous home run onto Interstate 75 in Cincinnati. He also had a pinch hit single in the All-Star game that year; another Astros first. As the season came to a close the Astros found themselves once again in ninth place and a winning percentage below .500. The team looked good on paper, but could not seem to make it work on the field.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination delayed the start to the 1968 season. When Robert F. Kennedy was killed two months later, Major League Baseball let teams decide if they would postpone games or not. Astros management decided to not postpone games. Rusty Staub and Bob Aspromonte sat out in protest. Both were traded at season's end.

April 15, 1968, saw a pitching duel that was one for the ages. Mets pitcher Tom Seaver and Don Wilson faced each other in a pitching duel that lasted six hours. Seaver went ten frames allowing no walks and just two hits. Wilson went nine innings and allowed five hits and three walks. After the starters pitched eleven relievers, seven for the New York Mets and four for the Astros tried to end the game. The game finally ended when Aspromonte hit a shot toward Mets shortstop Al Weis. Weis had been perfect all night at short, but he was not the same player he was six hours earlier. Weis was not quick enough to make the play and the ball zipped into left field allowing Norm Miller to score. Houston hosted the All-Star game in 1968 and as expected in the "Year of the Pitcher" the game was a low scoring match that saw the National league winning 1–0. Grady Hatton was fired as manager on June 18 and Harry Walker replaced him. Walker had been fired from Pittsburgh the year before The Astros ended the season in last place.

With baseball expansion and trades the Astros had dramatically changed in 1969. Aspromonte was sent to the Braves and Staub ended up with the expansion Montreal Expos. Cuellar would also be traded to the Baltimore Orioles and would win the Cy Young Award (shared with Denny McLain of Detroit) in 1969 and enjoy multiple 20-win seasons into the early 1970's. New players included catcher Johnny Edwards, outfielder Jesus Alou, infielder Denis Menke and pitcher Denny Lemaster. Wilson continued to pitch brilliantly and on May 1 threw the second no hitter of his career. He was just 24 years of age and was second to only Sandy Koufax for career no hit wins. Wilson's no hitter lit the Astros' fire and six days later the Astros tied a major league record by turning seven double plays in a game. By May's end the Astros had put together a ten game winning streak. The Astros infield tandem of Menke and Joe Morgan continued to improve and provided power at the plate and great defense. Morgan had 15 homers and stole 49 bases while Menke led the Astros with 90 RBIs. The Menke/Morgan punch was beginning to come alive, and the team was responding to Walker's management style.

On September 10, the Astros were tied for fourth but were only two games out of first when they faced the Atlanta Braves in a critical series. On September 13, Larry Dierker had no hit the Braves and was one out away from a win when Felix Millan broke it up with a single. The Astros scored two runs in the thirteenth, but ex-teammates Aspromonte and Jackson led a three-run Braves comeback. It seemed to be the turning point for the Astros as they slid into fifth place and Atlanta went on to win the division. The series against the Braves gave the Astros, and the fans, a taste of a race. It was also the first time in the team's history that they finished the season above .500. 1969 saw both the 1962 expansion teams improve, but it was the New York Mets that climbed to the top winning the World Series.

Main article: 1970 Houston Astros season
In 1970, the Astros were expected to be a serious threat in the National League West. The year started with a bang when Doug Rader clobbered a shot into the upper reserve (gold) seats in left field during an exhibition game on April 3. Nine days later Jimmy Wynn knocked one into the purple seats (just below the gold) proving that the unreachable area of the dome was reachable. The seats were repainted marking this feat. No other Astro ever hit a home run into that part of the Astrodome.

In June, 19-year-old Cesar Cedeno was called up and immediately showed signs of being a superstar. The Dominican outfielder was often compared to Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. Cedeno batted .310 after being called up from the minors. Not to be outdone Denis Menke batted .304 and Jesus Alou batted .306. The Astros' batting average was up by 19 points compared to the season before. The team looked good, but the Astros' ERA was up. Larry Dierker and Don Wilson had winning records, but the pitching staff as a whole had an off season. Houston finish in fourth place in 1970 and saw the Reds take the division title, something that would become common in the 1970s.

The fashion trends of the 1960s had started taking root in baseball. Long hair and loud colors were starting to appear on teams uniforms, including the Astros. In 1971 the Astros made some changes to their uniform: they kept the same style they had in previous seasons, but inverted the colors. What was navy blue was now orange and what was orange was now a lighter shade of blue. The players last names were added to the back of the jerseys. In 1972, the uniform fabric was also changed to what was at the time revolutionizing the industry – polyester. Belts were replaced by elastic waistbands and jerseys zipped up instead of buttons. The uniforms became popular with fans but would only last until 1975, when Astros would shock baseball and the fashion world.

The uniforms were about the only thing that did change in 1971. The acquisition of Roger Metzger from the Chicago Cubs in the off-season moved Menke to first base and Bob Watson to the outfield. The Astros got off to a slow start and the pitching and hitting averages were down. Larry Dierker was selected to the All-Star game in 1971, but due to an arm injury he could not make it. Don Wilson took his place and pitched two scoreless innings. Cesar Cedeno led the club with 81 RBIs and the league with 40 doubles, but batted just .264 and had 102 strikeouts in his second season with the Astros. Pitcher J.R. Richard made his debut in September of the 1971 season against the Giants. The 6 ft 8 in Richard struck out 15 to tie the debut record of Karl Spooner set in 1954. Richards won the game 5–3. The city of Houston saw they had the talent for a winning team and were growing tired of finishing in the middle of the pack. The Astros were about to pull off on of the most controversial trades in team history, which would change their franchise for years to come.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Astros) www.astros.mlb.com