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Astros name change: We've been down this road before

If the new owners of the Astros decide to change the name of the 5-decades old franchise, it won't be the first time Houston's MLB team got a makeover.

HOUSTON -- In Peggy Neder s kitchen, you can find a large framed piece of memorabilia that signifies her late husband s place in Astros history and proves that all this talk about possibly changing the team'sname is territory they've already covered before.

This is Bill Neder and myself, Peggy Neder said, pointing to a newspaper article from 1961.

William Neder, an insurance agent, won a naming contest put on by the Houston Sports Association. So the first Houston professional baseball team got Neder s suggested name: the Houston Colt 45 s.

He was excited about it, said Peggy Neder. It was fun.

The name stuck about four years. But the real Colt 45 pistol company complained. And by the time Houston city leaders broke ground for the Astrodome, using real pistols to break ground instead of the traditional shovels, Astros became the official team name in a salute to Houston s role in the space program.

The Astroworld amusement park opened on the other side of the 610 Loop, the first artificial football playing surface was dubbed Astroturf, and groundskeepers during Astros games sometimes donned spacesuits to do their work.

But Peggy Neder remembers that not everyone thought the Astros' newname was all that good of an idea.

He said, Well what are they gonna call the farm club....the half Astros, she said with a laugh, remembering the words of a newspaper columnist at the time.

I don t like it, said Astros fan Thomas Helton of the thought of changing the Astros' name again. It needs to stay the same. It s a city tradition. They already took away NASA. They don t need to take away the Astros.

For the record, NASA and the Johnson Space Center are still very much in place, just with a somewhat diminished role after the end of the space shuttle program.

I m not saying we re going to change, Astros CEO Jim Crane said on Monday. We haven t made a decision yet whether we re going to change. But, if the change is coming, it will come next year.

But if the goal is just to get people talking about the Astros again --and interested in filling the seats of Minute Maid Park next season --it's already working.