HOUSTON - APRIL 10: Original member of the Houston Colt 45's, Bob Aspromonte, throws out the ceremonial first pitch gold baseball before the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 10, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
50 years ago the Astros franchise started playing Major League Baseball in Houston. 51 years ago the Astros/Colt .45's and New York Mets held an expansion draft. Coinciding with game 51 and the upcoming draft we'll take a look at some of the interesting names in the 1961 Expansion Draft.
Before Houston could play ball they needed to get players and one of the ways in which a brand new team gets players is by plucking players from other teams. The Astros and Mets were allowed to select from National League clubs and only players left unprotected. Two years later after the Astros and Mets had poor showings another draft was conducted to allow them to improve their teams.
In 1961, Houston was given the first selection and the two teams alternated picks for 45 selections. There were three phases, two regular at $75,000 and $50,000 per player and one premium phase at $125,000 per player.
Infielder, Eddie Bressoud was the first selection by the Colt .45's from the San Francisco Giants. He would be traded to the Boston Red Sox for Don Buddin who only played half a season for the Colt .45's before being bought by the Detroit Tigers. Bressoud would go on to hit for an OPS+ of 104, 114 and 125, the three years following the trade.
Infielder, Bob Aspromonte was the second selection by the Colt .45's from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played seven years for the Houston franchise posting a .258/.313/.345 line at the hot corner.
Pitcher, Same Jones was the 25th selection by the Colt .45's from the San Francisco Giants. He would be traded to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Bruce and Manny Montejo. Bruce pitched five years for the Houston franchise amassing a 42-58 record with a 3.78 ERA and a 91 ERA+. In 1964 he posted a 2.76 ERA, 125 ERA+, resulting in a 15-9 record. Montejo never played in a game for the Houston franchise and Jones played one year for Detroit posting a 112 ERA+ out of the bullpen. Two years later he was done playing Major League baseball.
Catcher, Choo Choo Coleman was the 28th selection by the Mets from the Philadelphia Phillies. I only bring him up because that is quite possible the best name ever.
Pitcher, Ken Johnson was the 29th selection by the Colt .45's from the Cincinnati Reds. He would pitch in four seasons for the Astros posting a 3.41 ERA, 101 ERA+, resulting in a 32-51 record. He was traded to the Milwaukee Braves along with Jim Beauchamp for Lee Maye.
Pitcher, Jim Umbricht was the 35th selection by the Colt .45's from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched two seasons with the Colt .45's with a 148 ERA+, primarily out of the bullpen, before passing away. His number 32 is among those retired by the Houston franchise.
Pitcher, Turk Farrell was the 40th selection by the Colt .45's from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched six seasons with the Houston franchise, posting a 3.42 ERA, 100 ERA+, resulting in a 53-64 record, mostly as a starter.
Outfielder, Al Spangler was the 44th selection by the Colt .45's from the Milwaukee Braves. He played four years for Houston posting a .265/.347/.361 line, 104 OPS+.
Here's the full list of players selected in the 1961 Expansion Draft. Anyone you find interesting?