Astros turn back the clock
Uniforms, pregame festivities elicit memories from 1965
HOUSTON -- The Astros welcomed back eight members of the 1965 team on Saturday that played the first game in the Astrodome as part of "Turn Back The Clock Night." Bob Aspromonte, Ron Brand, Bob Bruce, Danny Coombs, Larry Dierker, Claude Raymond, Mike White and Jimmy Wynn were honored on the field prior to the game against the Phillies.
Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith, who was instrumental in the franchise's move into the Astrodome, was also honored -- as was Hall of Fame announcer Gene Elston. The Astros and Phillies wore throwback uniforms from 1965. The Phillies were the Astros' opponent in the first regular-season game played in the Astrodome on April 12, 1965.
"Seeing the uniforms beings back a lot of memories, but the most interesting of all is seeing members of the team that opened the Astrodome 45 years ago," Smith said. "That's great that eight players could come back. We extended invitations to everybody, and obviously health issues prevented others from returning, but we had a great time [at a reception Friday night] telling stories and reliving the 1965 team."
Aspromonte, the starting third baseman in 1965, can vividly recall walking into the Astrodome for the first time.
"It's incredible how fast it's gone by, but the opening of the Astrodome was incredible," he said. "That first season, we had a tremendous amount of attention here and we had outside support from different states to see the Astros and the 'Eighth Wonder of the World.' And Judge Roy Hofheinz did such an incredible job putting it together."
Michaels makes first start in center
HOUSTON -- Outfielder Jason Michaels, who had only one at-bat through four games, made his first start of the season in center field Saturday and hit a two-run homer in the third inning against the Phillies -- also the Astros' first home run of the season.
"Just to get out there and get in the flow of the game is good," Michaels, who started 18 games last year, said prior to the game. "In Spring Training, I had  at-bats or so, and then the season started. But that's part of the job, and I know that. It's not like I'm getting frustrated or anything like that. My whole goal is to have a good at-bat, whether as a starter or a pinch-hit at-bat."
Saturday's lineup was the fifth different lineup in five games employed by manager Brad Mills, who continued to start Jeff Keppinger at second base over Kaz Matsui. Keppinger entered Saturday hitting .545 and typically starts against left-handers anyway (the Phillies started southpaw Jamie Moyer), but the Astros have faced three lefties in five games.
"I told him I wanted to play Kaz today, and then I had to call Kaz in today and talk to him because [Keppinger] is swinging the bat so well," Mills said. "When you're feeling good at the plate, we need to go ahead and give him a chance to play it out as long as you can."
Mills recalls cutting Moyer in '92
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills finished his professional playing career in 1986, playing 18 games for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. That was the same season Jamie Moyer, who started for the Phillies on Saturday, made his Major League debut. Both played for the Iowa Cubs in 1986 -- Mills' last season in pro ball, and Moyer's first.
Mills, 53, never had a chance to face Moyer, but he managed him 1992 in Iowa and had to tell him during that Spring Training that he was being released.
"I had to tell him, but at the same time the organization wanted to do it," Mills said. "He was just coming back from surgery. There were a lot of other things in there, but I have a lot of respect for him, and we talked about it many times. He's a solid, professional guy."
So what was Moyer's reaction?
"He said, 'I'm going to come back and pitch in the big leagues,'" Mills said.
Eighteen years later, Moyer is going strong.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.