1969: Colbert Knocks First Homer, Padres Defeat Houston

April 24, 1969, Houston: Padres 4, Astros 1 (box score)

A day after being completely dominated by Larry Dierker, the Padres set the tone early in this one. The game started innocently enough, with the two teams exchanging zeroes in the first inning. Ollie Brown then led off the top of the second with a homer off right-hander Jim Ray to give the Pads a 1-0 lead.

The Astros tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on another solo homer. Dennis Menke led off the frame with a blast off Al Santorini. Both clubs mounted occasional threats over the next few innings but did no damage. The game remained knotted at 1-1 until the top of the eighth.

Then, with sophomore right-hander Jack Billingham on the mound in relief for Houston, the Padres struck for some two-out thunder. After Tony Gonzalez doubled to left, the dangerous Brown was intentionally walked to bring up a 23-year-old first baseman named Nate Colbert.

The powerful right-handed batter from St. Louis was making his second straight start in place of Bill Davis, the Padres’ Opening Day first baseman. Davis hadn’t provided much offense, batting just .222/.300/.250 in 40 plate appearances.

Colbert had walked, singled, and struck out in his first three trips to the plate. Now, with the game on the line, he slammed his first big-league homer to give the Padres a 4-1 lead.

Jack Baldschun, who had worked a scoreless seventh, finished with two more perfect innings to seal the victory. The Padres split the two-game series in Houston. They now were 4-1 against the Astros, and 2-9 against the rest of the league.

Trivia: This was not the last time Colbert would victimize Billingham. For his career, Colbert batted .314/.352/.667 against him, with five homers in 54 plate appearances. Only Don Sutton (7) served up more home runs to Colbert.

Elsewhere in the world: Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield performed and recorded Fathers and Sons with the legendary Muddy Waters.

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