On October 17th, 1960 , Judge Roy Hofheinz and the ownership group from Houston is awarded a franchise in the ten-team National League, called the Houston Colt .45s who begin play on April 10, 1962 . On April 9, 1965, the Houston Colt .45s become the Houston Astros and inaugurate indoor baseball in the Astrodome. The franchise's first decade displayed some great hitters (Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn ) and many great pitchers (Bob Bruce , Ken Johnson , Mike Cuellar, Don Wilson , Larry Dierker , Dave Giusti , Denny LeMaster )
The Astros first don the "rainbow uniforms" that stay with them with some variation through 1992. Nolan Ryan joins the team in 1979.
The Astros make the playoffs in 1981, and again in 1986, culminating in a wild 16-inning loss to the eventual champion New York Mets. Nolan Ryan is sent to the Texas Rangers in 1989, considered too old by then-owner John McMullen. After pitching one for Houston, Ryan would pitch two more no-hitters for the Rangers in the early 90s to achieve a grand total of 7. This is three more than anyone else in major league history.
After finishing second in their division in 1994, 1995, and 1996, the Astros won consecutive division titles in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Each of these titles was followed by a first round playoff ejection, twice at the hands of the Atlanta Braves.
The Astros won another NL Central title in 2001, and were again eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Braves.
The Astros' 2004 success had much to do with the cancelled retirement of star pitcher Roger Clemens (a Houston resident), who ended 2004 with a record 7th Cy Young award (his first in the NL), and the mid-season addition of Carlos Beltrán in a trade with the Kansas City Royals (on January 9, 2005, Beltrán accepted a better offer and signed with the New York Mets).