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The Houston Astros, originally known as the Houston Colt .45s, were founded in 1962 as an expansion team in Major League Baseball. The team played its first game on April 10, 1962, against the Chicago Cubs at Colt Stadium in Houston, Texas. The team was owned by Judge Roy Hofheinz, a former mayor of Houston who had a vision of bringing Major League Baseball to his city.
The Colt .45s struggled in their early years, finishing with a losing record in each of their first three seasons. However, the team showed promise in 1965 when they acquired future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan in a trade with the Milwaukee Braves. Morgan quickly became a star for the team, helping the Colt .45s improve their record to 72-90 that season.
In 1965, the team also moved into the Astrodome, a state-of-the-art stadium that was the first of its kind. The Astrodome was the world's first indoor stadium with a fully retractable roof and air conditioning, and it quickly became known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The Astrodome was also known for its unique playing surface, which was made of Astroturf, an artificial grass that was invented specifically for the stadium.
The Colt .45s changed their name to the Astros in 1965, in recognition of Houston's status as the center of the U.S. space program. The team continued to improve in the late 1960s and early 1970s, thanks in part to the contributions of players like Morgan, pitcher Larry Dierker, and outfielder Jim Wynn. In 1972, the Astros had their first winning season, finishing with a record of 84-69.
The Astros continued to be competitive throughout the 1970s, but they were unable to reach the postseason. In 1980, the team finally broke through, winning the National League West division with a record of 93-70. The Astros were led by pitcher Nolan Ryan, who threw a no-hitter on September 26 of that season, and by first baseman Enos Cabell, who had a career year with a .303 batting average and 100 RBIs.
The Astros faced the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series, but they lost the series in five games. Despite the disappointment of that loss, the Astros had established themselves as a perennial contender in the National League.
In 1986, the Astros moved into a new stadium, the Astrodome II, which featured a number of upgrades from the original Astrodome. The team also acquired outfielder Kevin Bass and pitcher Mike Scott, who went on to win the Cy Young Award that season. Scott was the first Astros pitcher to win the award, and he did so in dramatic fashion, throwing a no-hitter in the final game of the regular season to clinch the National League West division title.
The Astros faced the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series, but they lost the series in six games. The series was notable for a controversial call in Game 6, when a ground ball hit by the Mets' Mookie Wilson went through the legs of Astros first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the winning run to score.
In 1991, the Astros moved into their current stadium, Minute Maid Park. The team continued to be competitive throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, thanks to the contributions of players like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Lance Berkman.