Colts Unbeatable?

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(April 10, 1962) At Colt Stadium in Houston, the Colt .45s, in their first ever major league game, today defeated the Chicago Cubs, 11-2.

Left-hander Bobby Shantz throws the first pitch in the first game for the Houston Colt .45s. Shantz pitched a five-hit complete game as the Colts beat the Chicago Cubs 11-2.

 

Right fielder Roman Mejias was the hitting star for the Colts. Mejias got three hits, including a pair of three-run home runs. Catcher Hal Smith doubled and hit a solo home run.

Third baseman Bob Aspromonte recorded the first hit in the Houston franchise’s history with a single to left field to lead off the game. Aspromonte scored the Colts’ first run on Al Spangler’s triple.

Aspromonte also had three hits. He recorded another franchise first when he stole second base in the eighth inning.

Former Yankee hurler Bobby Shantz (1-0) got the win. Shantz pitched a five-hit complete games, striking out four and walking one. The Cubs scored on Ernie Banks’ solo home run in the seventh inning and added another run in the eighth inning on a Lou Brock sacrifice fly.

Outfielder Roman Mejias hit a pair of three-run home runs for the Colts

The losing pitcher was Cubs starter Don Cardwell (0-1).

The Colts would sweep their three-game season-opening series with the Cubs. They would finish their inaugural month in fifth place at 7-8. The Colts would finish the 1962 season at 64-96, in eighth place ahead of the Cubs and the New York Mets.

The Anonymous Batting Champion

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Pete Runnels

Pete Runnels may well be the least-known batting champion from the 1960s. Yet he was the 1960s’ first two-time batting champion, and the first player ever to win two batting titles while playing two different positions.

Pete Runnels won two batting championships as a member of the Boston Red Sox in the 1960s, hitting .320 in 1960 and .326 in 1962.

Pete Runnels won two batting championships as a member of the Boston Red Sox in the 1960s, hitting .320 in 1960 and .326 in 1962.

Runnels broke into the big leagues as a shortstop for the Washington Senators in 1951. Over the next seven years, splitting his time between shortstop and second base, Runnels hit .274 for Washington, with a high mark of .310 in 1956. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox before the 1958 season, when he hit .322, the second highest average in the league. He also registered a career high 183 hits in his first year with Boston, fourth best in the league.

As Boston’s starting second baseman, Runnels won his first batting championship in 1960 with a .320 average. Runnels moved over to first base in 1961, hitting .317 that year. As the Red Sox first baseman in 1962, Runnels claimed his second batting title with a .326 average. In his five seasons with Boston, Runnels was one of the league’s most consistent hitters, with a combined average of .320 over that period.

Pete Runnels was the first major league hitter to win batting titles while playing different positions.

Pete Runnels was the first major league hitter to win batting titles while playing different positions.

His batting title in 1962 wasn’t enough to keep Runnels in a Red Sox uniform, as he was traded in the off season to the Houston Colt .45s for outfielder Roman Mejias. Runnels never hit for power. Mejias did.

Runnels batted only .253 in 1963, his only full season with Houston. He was released 22 games into the 1964 season, and never played again in the majors. Runnels finished his 14-year major league career batting .291 with 1,854 hits. He was an All-Star three times.