Expansion of 1962
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The Expansion of 1962 was decided on July 18, 1960, in response to the threat of the formation of a new Continental League as the National League agreed to add two clubs, one in New York and one in Houston. The National League's decision caught the American League flat-footed; the junior circuit then turned around, in a case of one-upmanship, decided to beat the NL t the punch by deciding to add its two new teams immediately in what became the expansion of 1961.
The New York franchise to be named the Mets, was owned by Joan Payson. The Houston franchise, which took the name the Colt .45s, was awarded to Judge Roy Hofheinz. On October 10, 1961, an expansion draft was held for the two new expansion clubs that would begin play in 1962.
Draft rules were similar to those used by the American League the previous year, although the draft was held earlier - immediately after the end of the 1961 World Series. Each existing team had to make 15 players available from their 40-man roster and could lose up to 8 of these. However after two players were drafted from each existing club at $75,000 each and one more at $50,000, the existing clubs had to make two more players available at $125,000 apiece. The Mets and Astros were not required to draft those extra players; they were only mandated to take between 20 and 28 players: 2 from each club at $75,000 and up to 8 additional players - one from each club - at $50,000. They would then chose four premium players each at $125,000, with no existing club losing more than one such player. A team drafting the maximum number of players would end up with 28, at a total cost of $2.1 million. These were quite high prices for the period, as there were only a handful superstar players making even $100,000 per season. Thus, the draft was designed to be a financial bonanza for the established clubs.
One difference with the previous year's American League draft was that there were no rules regarding the positions of players drafted - the 1961 expansion teams had had to draft a set number of pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders. Because the draft was held immediately after the season, before the 1962 Rule V Draft, it meant that teams had not yet released washed-up players or promoted top minor leaguers they wanted to shield from the Rule V draft, significantly weakening the quality of the player pool available. As Houston General Manager Paul Richards commented: "I figured the lists of players would be bad, but they're worse than I thought they would be." Veterans nearing the end of their career made up a large proportion of the players available, not the sort of players an expansion team wanted to use to build a foundation. The list was also crowded with players who never made the majors or only had cups of coffee, and long-time minor leaguers.
The Colt .45s won a coin toss and got the right to chose first, picking shortstop Eddie Bressoud from the San Francisco Giants; he was traded to the Boston Red Sox by the end of November and never player for Houston. New York chose catcher Hobie Landrith, also of the Giants. Among the better players selected were Bob Aspromonte, Ken Johnson and Bob Lillis by Houston, and Chris Cannizzaro, Roger Craig and Al Jackson by the Mets. Neither team made the maximum number of picks allowed, Houston selecting 3 players in the optional phase (out of a possible 8), and New York only 2. New York selected first in the premium phase, taking former bonus baby Bob Miller from the St. Louis Cardinals, while the Colt .45s selected Joey Amalfitano, another former bonus baby, and a member of the Giants like Bressoud and Landrith.
After two years, due to the new clubs' lack of competitiveness, they were allowed to draft an additional player. They had a choice of four players from each of the older clubs' 40-man rosters, paying $30,000 apiece and only eight players in total could be taken between the two clubs. The draft took place on October 10, 1963 with only two players drafted.
Houston Colt .45's
New York Mets
1963 Special Draft
- New York Mets: Jack Fisher (San Francisco Giants)
- Houston Colt .45's: Claude Raymond (Milwaukee Braves)
- Stephen D. Boren and Eric Thompson: "The Colt .45s and the 1961 Expansion Draft", in Cecilia Tan, ed.: Baseball in the Space Age: Houston since 1961, 'The National Pastime, SABR, 2014, pp. 28-33.
- Michael Shapiro: Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel and daring scheme to save baseball from itself, Times Books, Macmillan, New York, NY, 2009.
- Frank Zimniuch: Baseball's New Frontier: A History of Expansion, 1961-1998, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2013. ISBN 978-0803239944