Where were you in ’62?

Gregory Peck won an Oscar as Best Actor in 1962 for his role as Atticus Finch in the film "To Kill a Mockingbird" based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Mary Badham is best remembered for her role as Scout. 

 

 

T. Michael Stone

michael@lakeoconeenews.us

 

The Houston Astros are the World Champions of baseball, but the world looked a lot different when the first Houston team took the field way back in April of 1962. 

So let’s climb aboard the time machine and see what the world looked like then. Mr. Wizard, if you please . . .

Wow. That was quick. We’re here in Houston on April 10, 1962. 

People are excited about the new baseball team, but many are still talking about Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game on March 2 when the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks, 169-147.

The National League has just expanded, adding the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s to give the league 10 teams.

Bob Aspromonte is the leadoff hitter in Houston’s first game at Colt Stadium on Tuesday, April 10, and he delivers the team’s first hit in the top of the first. 

He later scores the first run off Chicago’s Don Cardwell when Al Spangler triples down the right field line.

Roman Mejas hits Houston’s first homer, actually belting two three run homers in a game Houston won 11-2.

Bobby Shantz yields just five hits and goes the distance in his only win for the Colt .45s. He was traded to the Cardinals on May 2. More on that trade later.

Houston pitchers don’t allow a run in the next two games as they sweep the Cubs and start 3-0. The modest winning streak ends on Friday the 13th when the Colt .45s travel to Philadelphia and lose 3-2.

The Houston team turns out to be much better than the other expansion team. They beat the Mets 13 times in 16 games. 

Houston would finish its first season with 64 wins and 96 losses for eighth place. The Cubs finished ninth with a record of 59-103 and the Mets lost 120 games to finish dead last.

However, the Mets would win a World Series seven years later. It would take the Houston team 55 years to do it. Oh, yeah that trade:  The Cardinals sent Shantz, Ernie Broglio and Doug Clemens to the Cubs for Jack Spring, Paul Toth and Lou Brock.

The Cubs got little production from the players they acquired: Shantz went 0-1 before being dealt to the Phillies; Clemens hit six home runs, drove in 38 and stole five bases over two seasons; Broglio lost 19 of 26 decisions during the next three years with an ERA of 5.40.

Brock, to use a bad pun, was a steal for St. Louis. He stole 888 bases for the Cardinals, leading the league eight times and setting a modern record of 118 in 1974.

He also hit 434 doubles, leading the league with 46 in 1968. Brock has the 10th highest WAR (41) in Cardinals history and was elected to the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

If we pick up a New York paper on April 26 we will learn that Cleveland has traded Harry Chiti to the New York Mets for the proverbial “player to be named later.” On June 15 Chiti is returned to the Indians as that player, making him the first dude every traded for himself.

As baseball season is ending on Oct. 1, James Meredith enrolls in the University of Mississippi, becoming the first African-American to do so.

On Oct. 3, astronaut Wally Schirra orbits the Earth six times aboard Mercury 8 (three years later the Colt 45s move to the Astrodome and become the Astros; no problems are reported). 

The Yankees would win the World Series in seven games over the San Francisco Giants.

While the world is watching Willie McCovey bat with two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth of game seven on Oct. 16, President John F. Kennedy is is looking at photos of medium range ballistic missiles in Cuba.

And the beat goes on, brother.

Selah. 

And here's our video section with my Top 10 songs of 1962 and a few tidbits from the news of the period. 

 

 

 

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