Here's Why The Houston Astros Had To Change Their Name In 1965

When The 'Stros are mentioned, baseball fans immediately know that the nickname refers to the team the Houston Astros. The origin of the names of baseball teams is interesting to know, and the same goes for the aforementioned. The Houston-based team was formed in 1962 when the National League changed its structure and expanded from eight teams to 10, the other addition being the New York Mets. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the franchise's owners — Judge Roy Hofheinz and three other Houston-based businessmen — held a contest to name the new baseball team.

Submissions were narrowed down and a Houston resident named William Irving Neder won with his suggestion of the Colt .45s. According to Neder, the pistol was the best representation of the Texas frontier, and it was also a vital part of American history as the "gun that won the West." The team's colors were orange and navy blue, and the first logo included the image of a Colt .45 pistol with smoke coming out of the tip of the barrel to form the letter "C" (via Sports Logo History). The team retained its name for a few years before it was changed in 1965.

The Houston Colt. 45s' temporary ballpark

Before the Houston Colt .45s was officially formed, there was already a plan to build a baseball stadium. However, construction wasn't completed until 1965. The Houston team's first few years were played at a temporary open-air ballpark called the Colt Stadium (pictured above). The Colt .45s' first game was held on April 10, 1962, and they ended in a win against the Chicago Cubs, 11-2 (via MLB).

The ballpark — which had a 33,000 capacity and only one tier — didn't have the best conditions and was especially uncomfortable during the hot and humid Houston summers. In addition, mosquitos were always present. As reported by Ballparks of Baseball, more than 100 people from the crowd were brought to the ballpark's first aid area for medical assistance during one of the games. Colt .45s team member Rusty Staub was once quoted as saying, "I don't care what ballpark they ever talk about as being the hottest place on the face of the Earth, Colt Stadium was it." The new stadium was completed before the beginning of the 1965 season, and the Colt .45s' last game at the Colt Stadium was held on September 27, 1964.

The new baseball stadium and the name change

The newly-built baseball stadium was a far cry from the Houston Colt .45s' temporary ballpark and was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," per Saving Places. The enormous structure featured 18 stories and was the first air-conditioned domed stadium in the world. Initially, the stadium was named the Harris County Domed Stadium, but it was later called the Astrodome.

In accordance with the move from the old ballpark to the Astrodome, the team's owners wanted a new name for the baseball team, and the name Houston Astros was chosen. Houston is also known as Space City because of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center located in the area, and Astros — a shortened name for Astronauts — seemed fitting. According to Judge Roy Hofheinz, as noted by MLB, it was also a way to "help dispel the image of Texas as a land of cowboys and Indians, and it behooves every citizen in this area to call attention to the 20th-century aspects of Texas and Houston."

However, there was another reason for the name change. As reported by KHOU 11, Colt's Manufacturing Company owned the rights to "Colt .45" and gave permission for the team to use the name and the image of the pistol. When the team moved to the Astrodome, the firearms manufacturer proposed a deal for a percentage of profits from the merchandise sold. The team's owners refused and changed the team's name instead.