Today in baseball: Colt .45s become Astros

Today in 1964, the three-year-old National League expansion team, the Houston Colt .45s are about to move into their brand new home. The team will also change its name and the ballpark will carry that name too.

After playing the first three seasons at Colt Stadium, which was made of bleachers stretching from foul pole to foul pole and which was clearly a temporary solution for the expansion Colt .45s. After the Colt 45s moved into their new stadium, Colt Stadium stood unused until 1970 when it was demolished and shipped to Mexico where it was used in two different cities.

With the new season in their future home on the horizon, the Colt .45s changed their name. As NASA was located nearby, the appropriate name was Astros. The name honored Houston’s position as the center of the nation’s space program; NASA’s new Manned Spacecraft Center had recently opened southeast of the city.

The turf of the new Astro Dome would appear to be a problem. Even though the roof was translucent not enough light came through to let the grass grow. As a result, it died. For a while, the dirt was painted green to give it a natural look but eventually, the Astros would become the first Major League team to play on artificial turf that would get the name of the club: Astroturf.

On December 1, 1964, Roy Hofheinz, who was the driving force behind getting an MLB franchise to Houston, announced that the new  domed stadium would be called the “Astrodome” and the Colt .45’s would become the “Astros” in 1965.  Hofheinz stated: “We felt the space idea was more logical because the ball club is in Houston which is Space City U.S.A., and our spring training headquarters is in Cocoa Beach, Fla. at Cape Kennedy- Launching Pad, U.S.A.   About a  week later the Astros unveiled their new logo that displayed baseballs in orbit around a depiction of the Astrodome.  The colors used by Houston since 1962, navy and orange, were carried into the new identity of the Astros.  It was the first time a team depicted its stadium in their primary logo.

But the name change didn’t come out of nowhere. The manufacturer of the gun, the Astros were previously named after, had reservations about the merchandising rights and started to ask for a cut of the revenue. As you can see, even in baseball, guns are good for nothing.

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