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Behind the Moments: 

April 10, 1962

Under the leadership of Judge Roy Hofheinz, Houston was awarded a National League expansion franchise in 1960 and began plans to build two stadiums: the futuristic Harris County Domed Stadium and a temporary stadium to begin operations in 1962. With the arrival of 1962, ground had been broken on the domed stadium, and the construction of the temporary ballpark (soon to be called Colt Stadium) was entering its final stages in preparation for Houston's first Major League team, the Colt .45s.

With an expansion roster of young players, the Colt .45s began their first Spring Training against the Los Angeles Angels in the franchise's first exhibition game on March 10. Exactly one month later on April 10, the Colt .45s opened the new Colt Stadium with elaborate pregame festivities, including a parade through downtown. After a first-pitch ceremony including Harris County Judge Bill Elliot, Congressman Bob Casey and Mayor Lewis Cutrer, the Colt .45s officially welcomed Major League Baseball to Houston with an 11-2 win over the Chicago Cubs in front of a crowd of 25,271. In the words of legendary journalist Mickey Herskowitz, the arrival of Major League Baseball in Houston was a "lifetime-changing experience."

The Houston Colt .45s organization quickly earned a reputation of being one of the most colorful franchises in all of Major League Baseball. With female ushers dubbed "triggerettes" and flamingo red, burnt orange and chartreuse seating colors, Colt Stadium became unmistakable among baseball fans. Excitement surrounded the city of Houston as fans eagerly anticipated the construction of the futuristic domed stadium and the continued success of the Houston's hometown team.

April 9, 1965

Coinciding with the inaugural Colt .45s season, ground was broken for the franchise's future indoor stadium in 1962. Known during much of its construction as the "Harris County Domed Stadium," the first-of-its-kind ballpark received its official name on Dec. 1, 1964, when Roy Hofheinz announced that the Colt .45s would become the Astros and that the stadium would be named the Astrodome. Both names were created to reflect Houston's prominent space program and its reputation as "Space City, U.S.A."

The newly named Astrodome opened to the media for the first time on Feb. 8, 1965, as the Astros took the first indoor batting practice with more than 230 writers and photographers on hand. Members of the media stood in marvel of the grand indoor stadium, and Bill Roberts of the Houston Post declared, "It's like something from outer space." Word of the Astrodome reached far and wide; Mickey Herskowitz claimed, "You could go to any city in the world, London, Paris or Argentina, and if somebody asked you where you were from and you said Houston, they would know about the Astrodome."

Equipped with luxurious skyboxes, a brightly colored seating bowl and the famous home run spectacular, the Astrodome made its Major League debut on April 9, 1965, with an exhibition against the New York Yankees. A crowd of 47,876, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, witnessed the Astros' first game in what would soon be deemed the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Major League Baseball's only indoor stadium would host its first official regular-season game three days later on April 12. It was a regular-season contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Astrodome would continue to make headlines throughout the 1965 season and beyond as Houstonians and baseball fans everywhere flocked to the marvel that was the new home of the Houston Astros.

Oct. 6, 1980

Emerging from an offseason that included the signings of veteran free agents Joe Morgan and Nolan Ryan, the Astros felt confident that 1980 could bring the franchise its first-ever playoff appearance. Before the season, manager Bill Virdon said, "I feel that the Houston Astros will be legitimate contenders in 1980 and will have as good a chance as any club in our division of winning the division crown and possibly more."

The 1980 season was a roller coaster for the Astros and the club's fan base. The team went on a then-club record 14-game winning streak at home but also experienced tragedy when J.R. Richard suffered a stroke on July 30. Late in the season, the Astros were locked in a tight battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the top spot in the division and were never more than 3 1/2 games apart. Fighting for the division crown, the Astros entered the final series of the season against the Dodgers with a commanding three-game lead in the division.

Needing to take all three games to force a one-game playoff, the Dodgers did just that by winning three consecutive one-run contests in Los Angeles by the scores of 3-2, 2-1 and 4-3. Immediately following the three-game series sweep, the Astros and Dodgers battled for the NL West title in a one-game playoff on Oct. 6. The Astros flew out of the gates and took a 7-1 lead by the end of the fourth inning. Led by a dominant complete-game performance by Joe Niekro and four RBIs from Art Howe, the Astros sealed the win and clinched the first division title in franchise history.

April 27, 1983

Astros ace Nolan Ryan entered the 1983 season with 3,494 strikeouts, needing only 15 more to surpass Walter Johnson as the all-time strikeout king. In his third start of the season and after a brief DL stint, Ryan entered an April 27 contest against the Montreal Expos needing five strikeouts to break Johnson's mark. By the eighth inning, Ryan was pitching with a 4-2 lead and needed only one strikeout to tie and two strikeouts to break the all-time record.

Expos catcher Tim Blackwell led off the eighth and quickly fell behind 0-2 after two fastballs from Ryan. The catcher worked the count full before swinging and missing at another Ryan fastball for the record-tying 3,508th strikeout. Montreal fans rose to their feet, showing their appreciation for Ryan. The Astros then sent up a pinch-hitter, who quickly fell in an 0-2 hole after two Ryan fastballs in the mid-90s. Ryan wound up and threw a curveball. The pinch-hitter was just able to foul it off. After just seeing a curveball, the pinch-hitter looked for the Ryan Express to return on the fourth pitch of the at-bat but was frozen by a curveball that caught the outside corner for strike three. With this final strikeout, Ryan passed Johnson and became Major League Baseball's all-time strikeout king.

Who was this pinch-hitter that struck out looking to place Ryan in baseball's all-time record books? It was none other than current Astros manager Brad Mills, then an Expos utilityman. The following season Mills was traded to Houston where Ryan, upon meeting him, said, "It was outside, wasn't it?"

Sept. 25, 1986

The 1986 season would prove to be a magical one for the Astros and its fans. The Astros were hot out of the gates, jumping out to a 14-6 record and an early division lead. The team continued to play well for a majority of the season, peaking with a division lead of 11 games on Sept. 20. Intensity was high in the Astrodome as Houston fans looked forward to a division title and deep playoff run.

With the magic number at one on Sept. 25, the Astros took on the San Francisco Giants at the Astrodome with a chance to secure their third NL West division title. Led by All-Star pitcher Mike Scott, the Astros entered the top of the ninth inning leading, 2-0, and with a no-hitter intact for Scott. With a roaring Astrodome crowd, the Giants leadoff man, Dan Gladden, stepped to the plate and became Scott's 12th strikeout victim on an outside fastball. Robby Thompson was the second batter of the inning, and he struck out on an electric split-finger fastball.

With one out remaining, and every fan in the Astrodome on his or her feet, Giants first basemen and left-handed slugger Will Clark stepped into the batter's box standing between Scott and a no-hitter. Clark swung at the very first pitch and hit a ground ball that made its way to first basemen Glenn Davis for the final out, completing Scott's no-hitter and clinching the National League West division title.

Scott's no-hitter was the first in Major League history to be thrown in a clinching situation, and it helped the righty secure the 1986 National League Cy Young Award. Scott would finish the season with 18 wins and a league-leading 2.22 ERA and 306 strikeouts.

Oct. 3, 1999

With the construction of the Astros' new retractable-roof stadium nearing its final stages of construction, the 1999 season marked the final season of the Astrodome as the home of the Astros. With the Astros coming off back-to-back National League Central titles, expectations were high heading into the 1999 season. The Astros played up to those, maintaining a division lead for a majority of the season. The lead peaked at 6 1/2 games on June 20. But the division-rival Cincinnati Reds kept pace with the Astros in a pennant race that that would last until the final day of the season.

Coming off an Oct. 2 win against the Dodgers that had given the Astros the outright lead in the NL Central, the team needed one final win in its 162nd game to clinch the division crown. An emotionally charged Astros team, fueled by more than 52,000 screaming fans, flew out of the gates to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. Led by the dominant pitching of Cy Young candidate Mike Hampton and three RBIs from Daryle Ward, the Astros would extend the lead to 9-4 before Jay Powell struck out Raul Mondesi to secure the victory and NL Central title.

With a magnificent finale for a magnificent stadium, the Astros celebrated the end of the "Eighth Wonder of the World" in style, taking a victory lap around the warning track and thanking the fans for their continued support. Soon after, Milo Hamilton announced the All-Astrodome team and Willie Nelson performed "Turn Out the Lights" as fireworks blasted in the background. The fan-favorite home run spectacular played one final time as the Astros said farewell to the legendary Astrodome.

Oct. 18, 2004

After a blazing 36-10 finish to the regular season -- a finish sparked by the acquisition of Carlos Beltran -- the Astros took on the Atlanta Braves in the 2004 National League Division Series. The Braves and the Astros split the first four games before a deciding Game 5 in Atlanta. Searching for redemption after repeated playoff exits at the hand of the Braves, the Astros rallied in the seventh and eighth innings to secure the Game 5 victory and the first playoff series win in franchise history. With Astros fever at an all-time high, the team headed to Busch Stadium for an NLCS matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis took the first two games at Busch Stadium, and the Astros won the next two at Minute Maid Park. The stage was set for a pivotal Game 5 battle between Astros starter Brandon Backe and Cardinals starter Woody Williams. Dominant performances by both pitchers led to a pitchers' duel. No runs were scored in the first eight innings, with Backe carrying a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings. After a dominant, two-strikeout performance from Brad Lidge in the top half of the inning, the Astros entered the bottom of the ninth with an opportunity to swing momentum in their favor.

Facing Jason Isringhausen, one of the league's most dominant closers, with one out and Carlos Beltran on first base, Astros slugger Lance Berkman quickly fell behind 1-2. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Isringhausen threw a curveball off the plate, allowing Beltran, running on the pitch, to steal second base uncontested. This bold move by Astros manager Phil Garner forced Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to decide whether to pitch to Berkman or walk him to set up the double play. La Russa elected to walk Berkman, bringing Jeff Kent to bat for what would soon be one of the biggest at-bats in Astros history. On the first pitch, Kent slammed an inside fastball onto the train tracks above the Crawford Boxes for a walk-off, three-run home run. As the sold-out Minute Maid Park crowd exploded with cheers, Kent could be seen saying "One more game, one more game!"

Oct. 9, 2005

Forced to make another late-season run after a disappointing start to the season, the Astros finished a Major League best 74-43 after May 24 and just barely beat out the Philadelphia Phillies on the last day of the season to clinch a National League Wild Card berth. As always seemed to occur, the Astros earned a Division Series matchup against the playoff-rival Atlanta Braves. With the 2005 Astros playing as well as any team in recent memory, hopes were high in Houston that the Astros would be able to make their first trip to the World Series.

The Braves and Astros traded blows in the first three games of the series with wins by Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt for the Astros and a Game 2 win by John Smoltz for the Braves. After a pivotal win in Game 3, the Astros clearly had momentum on their side heading into Game 4 in front of a louder-than-ever Minute Maid Park crowd. With a Game 4 win, the Astros would advance to play the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals, who had knocked them out of the playoffs in 2004.

The Braves, looking to send the series back to Atlanta, jumped out to an early four-run lead and held that lead for much of the game. With his team trailing 6-1 in the eighth inning, Astros slugger Lance Berkman brought the Astros back to life with a grand slam off of Braves pitcher Kyle Farnsworth and cut the lead to one run. In the bottom of the ninth, still trailing 6-5, the Astros were down to their last out when Brad Ausmus hit a solo home run to send the game into extra innings. Not a single run would be scored for another nine innings as both the Astros and Braves were forced to use almost their entire rosters in the longest game in playoff history.

With one out in the 18th inning, Astros utilityman Chris Burke, looking to get on base and spark a rally, stepped up to the plate to face Joey Devine. After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Burke swung at an inside fastball from Devine and drove it over the left-field wall and into the Crawford Boxes, ending the 18-inning marathon and sending the Astros to the NL Championship Series. The Astros would continue to ride the momentum from Burke's walk-off home run, defeating the Cardinals in the NLCS and earning the franchise's first-ever World Series appearance.

June 28, 2007

Heading into his 20th season with the Astros, Craig Biggio needed only 70 hits to reach the milestone 3,000-hit plateau. As Biggio drew nearer and nearer to 3,000, attendance at Minute Maid Park rose as Houston fans gathered to see the Astros' most prominent player progress toward one of baseball's most historic milestones.

With 2,997 hits heading into the June 28 contest against the Colorado Rockies, most believed there was little chance that Biggio could reach 3,000 hits that night. Chances seemed even smaller after Biggio grounded out in the bottom of the first inning. But Biggio gave the fans a glimmer of hope in his second at-bat with a line-drive single to center. Welcomed by screaming fans in his next at-bat, Biggio hit a ground ball to third basemen Garret Atkins, who fielded the ball cleanly only to throw high to first base. Biggio was close enough to the base when the ball passed to warrant a controversy as to whether the play should be considered a hit or an error. Fans anxiously awaited the call from Astros longtime official scorer Trey Wilkinson. Seconds later, a large "H" emerged on the scoreboard as fans roared with Biggio now sitting at 2,999 hits.

"BIG-GI-O, BIG-GI-O, BIG-GI-O" chants filled the air at Minute Maid Park as Biggio stepped up to the plate for his fourth and potential final at-bat of the game. With everyone standing, Aaron Cook delivered the first pitch, a sinker for a ball. The next pitch was almost exactly the same as Biggio took another ball. Biggio stepped out of the batter's box to collect himself, evoking even louder cheers from Astros fans and prompting Astros TV announcer Jim Deshaies to utter the phrase "Get your cameras ready." On the next pitch, Biggio drove a line drive to right-center field, as he had hundreds of times before, that dropped for his magical 3,000th hit. As Brad Ausmus scored on the hit to give the Astros the lead, Biggio was thrown out attempting to stretch the single into a double. Just seconds later, Astros players, as well as the Biggio family, emerged from the dugout to congratulate an emotional Biggio in one of the most special moments in Astros history. Former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell soon joined in the celebration, sharing the moment with his longtime friend and teammate.

This contest between the Astros and Rockies would go into extra innings with the Astros falling behind, 5-4, heading into the bottom of the 11th. In true Hollywood fashion, Biggio, with his team down to its final out, legged out an infield single to keep the inning alive. Two batters later, Carlos Lee hit a game-winning, walk-off grand slam to add the perfect ending to one of the greatest games in Astros history.