After getting the go-ahead from Major League Baseball and receiving overwhelming support from fans, the Astros announced Friday they were keeping the pistol on the original Colt .45s logo that will be on the throwback uniforms they'll wear twice this year as part of their 50th anniversary.
The jersey, worn when the ballclub was named the Colt .45s in its first three years of existence (1962-64), included a pistol below the name Colts across the chest of the uniform. The Astros said they heard from thousands of fans who were "passionate and virtually unanimous" in their support of the authentic Colt .45s jersey.
The team is scheduled to wear the jerseys April 10 against the Braves and April 20 against the Dodgers.
"We made this decision for a number of reasons," Astros owner Jim Crane said in a statement. "We listened to our fans, who were almost unanimously in favor of wearing the original jersey. We wanted to honor all of our past uniforms during this special 50th anniversary season, and we felt it was important to be true to the tradition of the franchise."
Major League Baseball had informed the Astros they couldn't have the pistol on the jersey, but after months of discussions with the team, it informed Houston this week the decision would be left to the ballclub. The fans took it from there.
"What's it going to hurt?" said Astros fan DeAnna Williamson, who drove to Kissimmee from Houston earlier this week with a group of friends to watch Spring Training. "There's no harm in having a gun on the jersey. I'm so excited about all the wonderful 50th anniversary events."
Bob Aspromonte, an original member of the Colt .45s, was thrilled the Astros decided not to mess with tradition and kept the pistol. Aspromonte was the first batter in team history and scored the franchise's first run.
"I think it's critically important [they kept the pistol]," he said. "That's the start of the franchise. Those three years were incredible to the growth of the franchise. Those Colt .45s uniforms are really special, and to watch that domed stadium being built right alongside while we were playing, it all ties in. You can't take that away. The Colt .45s uniform was well-liked by everyone. I think it's a great jersey and was a great tie-in for a new franchise."
One of the cornerstones of the Astros' 50th anniversary campaign is "Flashback Fridays," when the club will wear some of the most recognizable and iconic uniforms in its history.
The Astros will wear the 1960s shooting star jerseys May 4 and May 18, the 1970s rainbow jerseys June 1 and June 22, the 1980s shoulder rainbow jerseys July 6 and July 27 and the 1990s blue and gold star jerseys Aug. 10, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31.
The fact the Astros allowed the opinions of fans to help them make an important decision isn't surprising.
Team ownership has actively sought club opinion on a number of topics since Crane took control of the club in November. Crane has had several meet-and-greets with season-ticket holders, and earlier this year, he announced the team was lowering some ticket and beer prices, as well as allowing fans to bring food and water into games at Minute Maid Park.
And when Crane hinted earlier this year the team was considering changing its name, the Astros were inundated with responses from fans who opposed. Crane soon announced the Astros name would remain, though the team is expected to change uniforms in time for next year's move to the American League.
Astros season-ticket holders were even given the opportunity Thursday to take batting practice on the Minute Maid Park field.
"We've really tried to take a look at the fan experience," Crane told reporters Thursday. "Until I bought the team, I had never been on a Major League baseball field, and it's exciting for them to roam around on the field and hit a couple of balls. We're going to stay focused on the fans and bring a great fan experience to season-ticket holders."