From 1962-1964 the team we now know as the Houston Astros were called the Houston Colt .45s. During those three seasons the team went 196-288 and finished no higher than 8th in the National League standings. In 1965 the Colt .45s moved into the newly build Houston Astrodome and were renamed the Astros. The franchise will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and different throwback uniforms will be worn throughout the season. Among them will be the uniform worn by the Colt .45s, but one prominent part of the jersey will not be present.
The Astros have decided to make a significant tweak to the Colt .45s jersey design. They’re removing the smoking handgun.
Astros fan James Crabtree is so upset about this that he sent a letter this week to the team and to MLB commissioner Bud Selig. He received a response from Mike Acosta, the Astros’ authentication manager, who told him, “During our discussion with Major League Baseball, it was expressed to us that we could wear the uniform as long as the pistol was removed. We realize this changes the original design, but we still want to honor the Colt .45s. We are also under an obligation to follow Major League Baseball’s requests.”
The Astros will wear the revamped, gunless version of the original jersey to honor the franchise’s original team name (as they should) but hearing what those who played for the team during those three years would be interesting. 2012 is a very different time than 1963 and prominently displaying a gun on the front of a jersey wouldn’t fly now, as evidence by MLB’s request. But the teams that took the field from 1962-1964 did wear them and the uniform is a part of the team’s history.
Last season we brought you the story of the Tampa Bay Rays removing the cigar from the Tampa Smokers jersey as a result of the franchise’s support of anti-smoking campaigns. That decision was met with mixed reactions and this one apparently has been as well. Social awareness is as big now as it’s ever been and whether it’s the franchise choosing to make an alteration to the uniform or MLB’s offices stepping in to make a ruling things that were acceptable at one time aren’t necessarily so anymore. I would imagine Mr. Crabtree isn’t the only Astros fan who doesn’t agree with the decision but at this point there probably isn’t much that can be done.
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, more remembered for his time with the Cincinnati Reds where he was a 2-time World Series champion and 2-time MVP, made his debut with the Colt .45s in 1963. Former outfielder Jimmy Wynn, whose #24 is retired by the Astros, wore a Colt .45s jersey as well. So did 6-time All-Star Rusty Staub and one-time Astros manager Larry Dierker. Nellie Fox, Leo Durocher, Eddie Matthews, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Robin Roberts, Don Sutton, Jose Cruz, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell are a few more who have called the Houston franchise home at various points over the years. All of them, and more, will be celebrated throughout the upcoming season. Hopefully this doesn’t become a big enough issue to put a damper on any of the festivities.