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Thread: Why'd the Colt .45s change their name?

  1. #1

    Why'd the Colt .45s change their name?

    I'm wondering if anyone can help me understand why Houston changed their nickname from the Colt .45s to the Astros in 1965. What I read is that Judge Roy Hofheinz wanted a more modern nickname to go along with the new domed stadium as well as the space program. This makes sense, but then why didn't he just call them the Astros to begin with, just three years earlier? I'd appreciate if anyone can give me the full info.

  2. #2
    Probably for the same reason the Washington Bullets changed theirs. References to firearms might sound flashy and exciting but they're disturbing to a lot of people who worry too much. That, and it was the dawn of the space age and I guess the Astros wanted to take advantage of that with their name. If there's a major US city associated with space exploration, it's Houston. Thus, the Rockets and the Astros.

    Besides, "Colt .45's?" Klunky. That's almost as bad as the Boston Somersets, the Brooklyn Superbas or the Chicago Orphans. The Boston Beaneaters was a better name than the Houston Colt .45's.
    Last edited by Imgran; 05-20-2008 at 05:27 AM.

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    As I recall the Colt firearms company objected to the use of the name. They felt it infringed upon their trademark. This was in the 60's before nut jobs decided taking guns to public facilities and blasting away would be a good way to spend the day.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by KCGHOST View Post
    As I recall the Colt firearms company objected to the use of the name. They felt it infringed upon their trademark.
    That's a fascinating bit of trivia. Never heard that before.
    Can you imagine, in this day and age, a company objecting to an entire team being named after their product for free ?

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    The name was changed at the end of 1964. Colt Firearms originally gave the baseball team permission to use the name; however, disputes soon arose over the commercial use of the name in souvenir selling. "Astros" stems from the Clark Lake NASA facility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Imgran View Post
    Probably for the same reason the Washington Bullets changed theirs. References to firearms might sound flashy and exciting but they're disturbing to a lot of people who worry too much.
    I was living in DC at the time of that name change, a time when DC was the "Murder Capital" of the country, and the Post had a regular feature where they ran the names and photographs of the usually young, often innocent, people who had been gunned down in the city.

    I am strongly pro-Second Amendment rights, but neither I nor anyone I knew in the city objected to the name change, or had any trouble understanding why it was done.

    I don't believe that the zeitgeist in Houston, Texas, was ever in a similar place, or ever had reason to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imgran View Post
    Besides, "Colt .45's?" Klunky. That's almost as bad as the Boston Somersets, the Brooklyn Superbas or the Chicago Orphans. The Boston Beaneaters was a better name than the Houston Colt .45's.
    I always liked "Superbas."

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    some of the reasons for the change are the colt firearm company, and the fact that the name didnt match well with the dome, "welcome to the .45dome...also in '62 houston was still considered old west, by '65 it was the solidified home of mission control...just a few reasons,
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Imgran View Post
    Probably for the same reason the Washington Bullets changed theirs. References to firearms might sound flashy and exciting but they're disturbing to a lot of people who worry too much.
    In this touchy, politically correct nation, couldn't someone be offended by the name of the Astros? The near catastrophe of Apollo 13, the Challenger explosion and the Columbia shuttle disaster could all be fodder for the PC crowd.

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    And all this time I thought the team was named after the Jetson's dog.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
    And all this time I thought the team was named after the Jetson's dog.
    lol... very good, HWR.


    If the conflict with the firearm trademark is true, then I wonder how the Colt .45 gun company feels about getting drunk using their brand. Naming a baseball team seems kind of innocuous by comparison.

    Just a thought.
    Put it in the books.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Jeltz View Post
    In this touchy, politically correct nation, couldn't someone be offended by the name of the Astros? The near catastrophe of Apollo 13, the Challenger explosion and the Columbia shuttle disaster could all be fodder for the PC crowd.
    I doubt the name was changed for PC reasons; guns weren't as big a deal back then and the name Colt .45s conjures up Wild West associations more than anything.

    About the Bullets/Wizards, I think spark240 explained it well. It's not that the name could possible offend people(that applies to pretty much any name if you try hard enough), but that the name carried macabre connotations for the city where the team played. It would be like if Oklahoma City had a team in the '90s called the Bombers. Strangely enough, even "Wizards" offended some people because of the KKK associations. So it wasn't like they were going out of their way to avoid offending anyone. Plus, think of it from a business standpoint: you don't want your business name to carry negative connotations. Why do you think Philip Morris changed their name?

  12. #12
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    I don't think there was any "political correctness" involved in the change. For one thing, such sentiments did not exist in the mid 1960s.

    I think it was just a matter of going to a more futuristic name.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Dunaier View Post
    I don't think there was any "political correctness" involved in the change. For one thing, such sentiments did not exist in the mid 1960s.
    I know political correctness didn't exist in the sixties. My whole point was that no matter what nickname you have, someone will find something offensive nowadays. It's absurd, but it's true.

  14. #14
    The name change was done solely because Judge Roy Hofheinz did not want to cut any piece of the profits to the Colt firearms company. The Colt .45's name was chosen from a name-the-team contest and was to signify the pistol that won the old west. George Kirskey, a team Vice-President loved the name and felt it was good for the first major league team in the south. Hofheinz was never a fan of the name. He wanted a more futuristic appeal and Houston was home base of NASA. Thus, in December, 1964 he held a press conference announced the new domed stadium would be named the Astrodome and the team would now be known as the Astros (short for Astronauts).

    Hofheinz stated, “We felt the space idea was more logical because the ball club is in Houston- Space City U.S.A., and our spring training headquarters is in Cocoa Beach, Fla. at Cape Kennedy- Launching Pad, U.S.A. The name and insignia will help dispel the image 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.”

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Astros View Post
    Thus, in December, 1964 he held a press conference announced the new domed stadium would be named the Astrodome and the team would now be known as the Astros (short for Astronauts).
    I always heard that the "Astros" were short for "Astronomicals." Have I (and Marty Brennaman) been mistaken the entire time?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian McKenna View Post
    The name was changed at the end of 1964. Colt Firearms originally gave the baseball team permission to use the name; however, disputes soon arose over the commercial use of the name in souvenir selling. "Astros" stems from the Clark Lake NASA facility.
    One small yet noteworthy correction: Clear Lake, not Clark.

    Fascinating thread. I have learned a lot.
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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by NineWorldSeries View Post
    I always heard that the "Astros" were short for "Astronomicals." Have I (and Marty Brennaman) been mistaken the entire time?
    I read that Hofheinz asked his friend Alan Shepard(first American in space) if he and his fellow Mercury 7 astronauts would like a team named after them, and he said yes. Hofheinz shortened Astronauts to Astros because he knew headline writers would do it anyway.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by NineWorldSeries View Post
    I always heard that the "Astros" were short for "Astronomicals." Have I (and Marty Brennaman) been mistaken the entire time?
    Unfortunately yes. I've seen Marty a few times when the Reds have been in town. Had I known that, I would've told him.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Charlie View Post
    I read that Hofheinz asked his friend Alan Shepard(first American in space) if he and his fellow Mercury 7 astronauts would like a team named after them, and he said yes. Hofheinz shortened Astronauts to Astros because he knew headline writers would do it anyway.
    That is true. Hofheinz had a friendship with Shepard. Shepard had a skybox in the Astrodome. The skybox level was one of the more luxurious parts of the stadium but it did not serve hot dogs. Shepard brought in his own hot dog machine and other skybox patrons got word of his "Shepard-special" hot dogs.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by nolanryan5714 View Post
    One small yet noteworthy correction: Clear Lake, not Clark.

    Fascinating thread. I have learned a lot.
    Thanks. Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote "Clark".

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