added 09/23/2011 by Bob Hulsey
My cap tips to the designer who came up with the 50th Anniversary Houston Astros logo. It's one of the highlights of this season and will be a delight to see all of next season. It's compact and yet beautifully represents several eras of the team's history. At the top is the word "Astros" as it appeared in the uniform jersies of the 1960s. The "50" in the center is in the style of the back uniform numerals from that era. I can't look at it and not think of J.R. Richard, who excelled while sporting that number on his back.
Jumping through the numerals is the "shooting star" logo that appeared on the front of those early jersies and behind them is the "rainbow" colors that stood out on Astro uniforms from 1975-1986, making a fashion statement still fondly remembered today. The numerals "1962" and "2012" are there to remind people that next year will actually be the 51st season of the franchise and that this very forgettable year was the 50th.
In between the years is the current Astros "open star" logo which was worn during the club's only National League pennant-winning season. The logo's border is in the flat gold color that marked the style of the 1990s. Although it misses any reference to the expansion Colt .45s, the graphic manages to capture over 90% of the club's history in a style that isn't too cluttered or too hard to understand.
I only wish I could celebrate the Astros' 50th Anniversary season without the thought that it's legacy is now threatened. It will be forever altered if the team is forced to move to the American League.
For most of their history, particularly during their years in the Astrodome, the franchise was known for quality pitching and tense, low-scoring baseball that fit the style that makes National League baseball so enjoyable. The American League is known for the designated hitter (DH) and high-scoring baseball which seems to sacrifice "small ball" in pursuit of the three-run homer.
People say the fans don't like to watch pitchers hit. I just watched Henry Sosa swat a double that landed fair down the right field line to spark a three-run inning. For a moment, Sosa was so stunned that he forgot to run and then, when he did, he almost missed first base on his way to second. I call that entertaining.
Pitchers hitting reminds us all how difficult this game truly is to play and their presence in the lineup causes all types of strategy decisions for the manager that you don't see in the American League except when they have to play in National League parks.
Recently, the Philadelphia Phillies published a dazzling, glossy anniversary book of old photos and remembrances. The Giants also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of West Coast baseball with a similar book. The Mets will have a 50th Anniversary book available next season. But Bill Brown, the team's esteemed television voice, couldn't get the commitment to go forward with a 50th Anniversary book for the Astros, despite his desire to give the proceeds to Astros charities. The outgoing ownership didn't want to commit the resources and the incoming one hasn't had the chance to involve itself in such projects. Brown plans to release a more limited edition as an e-book this winter.
In all honesty, I can tolerate and support an Astros team that loses 100 games. I can tolerate and support an Astros team that makes some puzzling personnel moves and rarely spends like a team that has the country's fourth largest city all to themselves. I can tolerate and support a return to the National League West should that be the outcome. I can even tolerate and support a team that can't get their act together enough to put out a commemorative book. But I cannot tolerate and support an Astros team that plays in the American League with the designated hitter, especially the way this deal is going down.
I've yet to hear any compelling reason why the Astros should switch leagues or why its even necessary. I know why it's a good idea for the Texas Rangers to have the Astros in their division. But, the last time I looked, Nolan Ryan doesn't own the Astros. However, if the switch is made, it will be clear that Ryan "pwns" the Astros, as the internet kids like to say.
Ryan has done a tremendous job of pushing both Texas franchises to his own advantage and if new owner Jim Crane will be Ryan's lackey over this, he will always be Ryan's lackey. Crane will have ceded the state's baseball fandom to the team up north. Who wants to be the fan of the 98-pound weakling who doesn't mind the sand being kicked in his face? Such cowardice does not deserve support.
50 years of National League fans may balk at an AL-based Astros club. Are bogus claims of league "balance", which weren't there when Bud Selig moved his Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League 13 years ago, worth jeopardizing the fan base of a franchise now? Selig seems to think so. But then when has Bud Selig ever done anything to benefit the Astros?
What becomes of this website if that day comes is yet to be determined. But perhaps we'll simply choose to celebrate the 51-year history of a memorable National League franchise and ignore the American League version. I hope it doesn't come to that but you can't be a fan of something you don't respect. Switching leagues is apt to lose my fanship, as well as the devotion of others from what I've read, especially when such a change seems so arbitrary and needless while ignoring the relationships and rivalries built over 50 years of National League memories.
For more information about Astros uniform styles over the years, visit "From Pistols To Pinstripes" in our History Section.