Nov. 1, 2017 ... a day I’ve been yearning for for some 55 years, the day the Houston Astros finally won the World Series.
It’s been a long, long time coming for a major league franchise which has been steeped in mediocrity (at best) since its inception as an expansion team in 1962. You see, I was an Astros fan before they were even the Astros. In the beginning the organization/team was known as the Houston Colt 45s --- the first major league professional baseball team in Texas. Being a 12 year-old “wanna-be” baseball player from Odessa, I was so proud. I mean, we now had a Big League team in Texas! As a sixth grader, I remember reading the daily local newspaper for the very first time. Of course, it was only the Sports section, but it was a start. In there I found out all about my team.
I learned about the players, the coaches, the previous day’s game, batting averages, pitchers’ ERA’s, and how to read a box score. Heady stuff for a 12-year-old. I used to tune in to my little transistor radio and listen every game I could. During the summers of 1962 and 1963 I even took my radio to Camp Carter in Ft. Worth to sneak a listen late nights in our cabin. Radio announcer Gene Alston was so expressive and dramatic in his description of the game, I could just visualize myself being right there in person taking in the action of the field.
It was too humbling to admit my team was not very good. We were awful. I mean, how many teams lose the game when your own pitcher throws a no-hitter? Well, the Colt 45s did in 1964 with Ken Johnson on the mound.
My dad knew of my passion for the game and team in Houston, so he took me on a special trip to Houston for a few games the summer of 1964. We sat in the old Colt Stadium, where it was hot and humid and the mosquitoes were like miniscule drones hovering all around. I did not care. I loved it. I even retrieved a “homerun” ball out in the left field stands from batting practice before one of the games. I then was able to get some neat autographs, when players were more accessible and would come up to the fence and sign your ball for free.
Oh, those were the days. I recall gazing over from the stands and seeing the outline/framework of the Astrodome being built, and just dreaming. Wow! Big-time baseball to be played indoors with a constant temperature of 72 degrees! The 8th wonder of the world, right here in Texas! Because our first trip was so memorable (great father/son time), my dad arranged for us to do it all over again the next summer and take in the complete Astros/Astrodome experience. When I first walked up and into that stadium, I was awestruck. I could hardly believe my eyes, the vivid colors of the various seating sections, the world’s largest scoreboard, all the different restaurants, kiosks, and shops to choose from, on and on.
I was in teenage heaven. I was so exhilarated and overcome with emotion, that I began to cry. It’s the first time ever I remember doing that. My dad must have felt especially fatherly at that moment.
He’d done a good thing. A memory I’ll cherish all my days. As the years passed, my sports passion turned more toward football. But still, I’ve always had that soft spot toward my 1st baseball love – the Houston Colt 45s and the Houston Astros. In a strange kind of way, and as I get older, it’s sort of a relief and release for me to savor and know that my team finally won the Big One. The Houston Astros, World Champions.
That has such a nice ring to it.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.