If you’re a baseball fan like I am, March to me means spring training. It also means the start of the regular season is right around the corner. To help tide over those baseball fans who are getting itchy for Major League Baseball in Texas I recommend “Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart — Blazing a Trail from Expansion to World Series.”
This book gives a full color look at the franchise and Texas baseball’s humble early beginnings and the the politics behind Houston’s move from minor league farm team to the majors and National League and the individuals and players who put the Astros on the map
“Deep in the Heart” is a great read for both diehard Astros fans and baseball enthusiasts. The color pages and photos of the team’s digs, notable figures and players along with accounts of the clubs’ formation and successes as a minor and major league team are enough to entice even the causal reader. Even a died-in-the-wool Atlanta fanatic or staunch Texas Rangers fan can appreciate the long history, efforts and machinations expended over the years to build the Astros ball club.
Who could resist the build-up to the 2005 series win — the “legends, the images and the memories that the next generation of baseball fans will need to understand this ... inspirational team?”
Texas history buffs will appreciate the 150 year look back into organized baseball, which according to authors Bill Brown and Mike Acosta has existed in Houston since Texas seceded from the union in 1861. The Houston Base Ball Club practiced in a vacant field between San Jacinto, Caroline, Capito and Rusk streets starting in 1862. The first organized game took place in 1968, when the Houston Stonewalls won the state championship game versus the Galveston Robert E. Lees, with more than 1,000 people in attendance on the battleground 32 years to the day after Texas won its independence from Mexico, according to Bill Brown and Mike Acosta’s accounting.
The Houston professional baseball club has been known by a number of names including the Houston Babies and the Buffaloes.
The St. Louis Cardinals owned the team from the early 1920s through 1958, when Branch Rickey convinced the Cards owner to buy the Buffs to build a farm system instead of getting players who weren’t under contract to a major league team from minor league clubs.
Baseball grew with the city and oil, becoming the Major League franchise the Colt .45s in the early 1960s.
Of note are the big wigs recruited to bring MLB to the South or southwest, particularly Southeast Texas working earnestly since 1957; the diversity of the broadcast team, which called games in both English and Spanish; heat forced Sunday games to be played at night on Sundays for the first time in MLB; the 1963 team featured nine rookies; and some of the biggest names and heroes in baseball history.
In addition to the regular players, there were those who had one moment, one day of fame such as Jay Dahl, one of the youngest pitchers in the MLB history. Signed at 17, Dahl played one game before being sent to the low minors; after being sidelined by a bad back, then going 5-0 in Astro’s N.C. affiliate before being killed in a vehicle crash at age 19.
The photo of the team stepping off a plane in hats and suits complete with a few .45s says it all as far as the team and era.
And how many teams can boast it came just shy an act of Congress to become an MLB expansion team?
Not every sport’s history begins with an introduction by a U.S. president, who has the temerity to poke fun at an ongoing squabble with his wife over his prowess on the diamond as a college student and give proof of his love for his “bride” of nearly 70 years and their devotion to the Astros.
“Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart is currently available from Big Sky Press (http://brightskypress.com/product/houston-astros/) for $27.97.