Being a long-time sports fan in Houston has come with its ups and downs over the decades. Don’t tell that to the Houston Astros and its fans now. The Houston Astros are in the 2022 World Series after having appeared in the 2021, 2019, 2017 and the 2005 World Series. So far, 2017 was the one time the Astros were victorious all the way through.
As a tribute to the Astros, I wanted to share my Astros sports cards and memorabilia. This also pre-dates the Astros back to the short run as the Colt 45s, and with the minor league Buffs before that. I was able to get the entire collection, well almost the entire collection, photographed to post ahead of Game 3 for Houston fans to see that Houston’s baseball history dates back to before the mid-1960s. And this comes with a reminder that it took the Astros more than 40 years from their dawn as the Colt 45s to even get into the World Series — and about 55 years to win the World Series!
No collection is ever perfect. Collections are always evolving and it can take years (or decades) to really come to fruition. Some of these items I have owned since the 1980s and 1990s, and one of the opening day tickets for the Colt 45s was the same ticket that my dad had in his shirt pocket when he attended that game.
Without any more wait, here is 110 years worth of Houston baseball collectibles. All photos below were taken by Jon Ogg and are from the personal collection of Astros cards.
The T210 Old Mill tobacco cards. Players Bell, Malloy, Carlin. These were all minor league players from the South and in many cases even the best baseball historians may have little to no real information about these players. These cards all came in Old Mill cigarette packs and the T210 set is a whopping 640 cards from various regions of the South.
The T206 set is from 1909 to 1911, and the regional issues are likely 1910. Foley White is the only Houston player with a T206 card. Very little is known about him and there are large gaps in record keeping of his career. The T206 Collection noted that he played for 11 teams in an 8-season career. There has been some speculation that this image may not even be of him and here are some of his teams — the Brownies, Millionaires, Boll Weevils, Orphans…
Then there is a huge gap in time to the 1940s. The Houston Buffs were the local team. I have picked up some printed materials. The team photo is buried somewhere in a box, but I have this and some signed Buff players which dated to 1949 and then into the early 1950s according to Tristar when I bought these more than a decade ago.
And zooming forward to the opening game for the Colt 45s. The blue ticket was my father’s (Jack Ogg) from six decades ago and the red ticket I was able to purchase from another dealer around 2008 or 2009.The Astros team card is the1963 Topps issue.
And let’s not forget about the opening day magazine program, as well as some media pass info and the “Here Come The Colts! for manager Harry Craft.
And let’s go ahead and throw in a Harry Craft player card from the 1939 Play Ball set.
Here we have the first three years of signed baseballs from the Colt 45s. All have now been authenticated by JSA (James Spence) although one of the Harry Craft manager signatures is deemed a “club house auto” which means another coach, player or office person signed for him. The second image of the three balls includes a cut-out of Jim Umbricht who passed long before his time.
Also some signed cards here of Astros and Colt 45s greats like Jim Wynn (and his unsigned rookies, one for me and two for my kids). Rusty Staub, Al Spangler and Pete Runnels.
Here are some photos of great Astros who might not be in Astros unforms. Some pitcher named Nolan Ryan. We have HOF players like Joe Morgan and the one-season with Eddie Mathews as an Astros players. That was easy to miss if you don’t read about baseball history.
And then it’s three decades or so of Astros who were great players for our Astros but who may not be as well-known nor as well regarded in other cities.
And we have the wonderful Bob Aspromonte, who ended up with his brother Ken owning Aspromonte Coors in Houston. The 1971 Topps card in black was for the Mets rather than the Astros but it states that he was the last active player in baseball at that time who played on the Brooklyn Dodgers with Jackie Robinson.
Let’s go ahead and have some greats like Roger Clemens and perhaps a refresh of Nolan Ryan. Were these the two best Astros pitchers in uniform? Justin Verlander may have something to say about that.
And what about the great J.R. Richard? Here’s a signed rookie card from the 1972 Topps set.
And for one more of Nolan Ryan just before he left the A’s and joined the Astros with J.R. Richard on for the 1979 Strikeout Leaders! Another look at Umbricht and a man who managed the team when I was a youngster named Bill Virdon (Astros 1975/76-82).
And zooming forward to modern times for the 2005 Astros World Series team. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame as career Astros players.
And more recently, we have Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. Do they need any introduction?
That’s all for now. There are many other Astros greats but time is keeping the rest off the presentation — and perhaps some fund limitations may be preventing the rest. Go Astros!!!!