Colt Stadium was a Major League baseball stadium that formerly stood in Houston, Texas. It was the temporary home of the expansion Houston Colt .45s for their first three seasons (1962–1964) while the Astrodome was being built, just to the south of it.
The stadium in 1962, from the east
|Field size||Left field – 360 ft (110 m)|
Left-center – 395 ft (120 m)
Center-left – 427 ft (130 m)
Center field – 420 ft (128 m)
Center-right – 427 ft (130 m)
Right center – 395 ft (120 m)
Right field – 360 ft (110 m)
|Construction cost||$2 million|
($16.9 million in 2019)
|Houston Colt .45s (MLB) (1962–1964)|
After its use in Houston, it was dismantled and moved for use in two Mexican cities.
The stadium consisted of an uncovered one-level grandstand, stretching from foul pole to foul pole, with small bleacher stands in right and left field. One baseball annual published just before the 1962 season referred to it as "a barn-like thing." It is best remembered for the horribly hot and humid weather (and attendant mosquito population) that had necessitated building the first domed stadium. The field was conventionally aligned northeast (home to center field) at an elevation of 50 feet (15 m) above sea level.
Temporary from the outset, the stadium was abandoned when the Astrodome was completed for the 1965 season. The Astros occasionally used it for running and exercising to acclimatize players to warm weather before a road trip. However, the players had to be careful, as rattlesnakes would often take up residence on the field. Monsanto engineers also used it as a testing ground for its synthetic ChemGrass, later known as AstroTurf, inviting cars and horses to ride on the synthetic surface to gauge its durability. It sat abandoned for ten years, accumulating random odds and ends from nearby Astroworld and weathering in the blistering Texas sun.
The right field corner of the stadium was located in what is now the northwest corner of NRG Center. Much of the northern half of the stadium (center field, left field and the third base stands) is occupied by a power station, and home plate was approximately located where a light pole in the adjacent parking lot is.
The stadium was the site of two no-hitters, both thrown by Houston, but the visitors scored in both and one was a Colts' loss. In 1963, Don Nottebart shut down the Philadelphia Phillies on May 17, but an error in the fifth inning and two sacrifices scored a run for the visitors; Houston won, 4–1. The following year, Knuckleball thrower Ken Johnson kept the Cincinnati Reds hitless on April 23, but an unearned run scored by Pete Rose in the ninth broke a scoreless tie and the Reds won, 1–0. With one out, Rose bunted and reached second on Johnson's throwing error, advanced to third on a fielder's choice, and scored after another error.
- 1962: 924,456 (7th of 10 NL teams)
- 1963: 719,502 (10th of 10)
- 1964: 725,773 (10th of 10)
The three seasons combined to 2,369,731; the first season at the Astrodome drew 2,151,470 in 1965.
By the early 1970s, Colt Stadium had become a county tax liability, with a lien on it. In 1971, it was sold to the owners of the Algodoneros del Unión Laguna, a Mexican League team, and was dismantled and shipped in pieces over the next four years to Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico, for use as the team's home venue. Renamed Estadio Superior in a naming rights deal with a beer sponsor, Unión Laguna used the stadium between 1975 and 1981. It was located near the Estadio Corona soccer stadium on land used today for a soft drink company. The stadium was popularly known as the Estadio Mecano or Millón de Tuercas (Million Screws) due to its ability to be assembled and its resemblance to an Erector set.
In 1981, the owner of Unión Laguna, Juan Abusaid Ríos, had a falling out with Governor of Coahuila José de las Fuentes. Abusaid sold the team to the Sindicato de Trabajadores Petroleros de la República Mexicana (Union of Oil Workers of the Mexican Republic), which moved the franchise to Tampico, Tamaulipas. While the stadium was taken down in Torreón and moved to Tampico, the franchise spent the 1982 season in Monclova, Coahuila as the Astros de Monclova.
In 1983, the Astros became the Astros de Tamaulipas, playing three full seasons at the stadium, known in Tampico as the Estadio Ángel Castro. The franchise moved again after the 1985 season, this time without the stadium. The Mexico City Tigers bought the stadium with the intent of moving it yet again to serve as the club's new home, but with the venue already showing structural weakness after years in the humid Tampico climate, the plans were scuttled. Ultimately, some rows of seats were reassembled at a ballfield in Pasteje, Jocotitlán, State of Mexico, and the others remained in a Tampico playground until that, too, was demolished. El Mecano became the only major league ballpark to be sent down to the minors and the only one to play host to three professional teams in two nations.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
- "Nottebart hurls no-hitter as Houston wins, 4-1". Youngwtown Vindicator. (Ohio). UPI. May 18, 1963. p. 9.
- "Cincinnati Reds 1, Houston Colt .45s 0". retrosheet.org. April 23, 1964. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
- "Rare Feats: No-hit game in losing cause". Major League Baseball. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
- "Colts' Ken Johnson hurls no-hitter, loses to Reds". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 24, 1964. p. 16.
- "National: Colts 4, Mets 3". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (box score). September 9, 1962. p. 2, sports.
- Millman, Joel (5 September 2000). "Ballparks Never Die, When Mexico Puts Them Back Together". Wall Street Journal.
- Luna Walss, Rodolfo (20 July 2005). "El negocio del béisbol". El Siglo de Torreón (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Acosta, Mike. "Rain or Shine: How Houston Developed Space City Baseball" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- www.ballparks.com Colt Stadium page
- www.ballparksofbaseball.com Colt Stadium page
- www.ballparkwatch.com Colt Stadium page
- 1962 video featuring Colt Stadium (YouTube)
- Footage of 1962 game at Colt Stadium (YouTube)
- more Colt Stadium trivia
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