Ballparks: Astrodome


Well, howdy there. Very nice to meet your acquaintance. It seems that you and your family are in the market for a historical baseball getaway and, based on your clothing, you may be quite possibly on the hunt for a dream vacation to Houston, yes? Yes. Great! Let’s get started.

First, what are the specifics? Is there a time or player or event you’d like to witness? And for how long do you want your stay to last? A day, two days, a week?

Great, great, so you are Nolan Ryan fans. He’s one tough dude, and man could that guy throw. But don’t crowd the plate or get under his skin or you’ll wind up on your back. Worse yet, maybe he’ll put you in a headlock like that poor Robin Ventura fella, ouch.

So, the Ryan Express. Any start work for you? Did you say September 26, 1981? Just one day, yes? Ah, there we have it. Pretty sure they call that pitching performance the “Domination in the Dome”; his record-breaking fifth no-hitter while he was with the Houston Astros. A masterful performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Couldn’t have happened to a better team. Sorry, but the Giants have my heart.

Putting all affiliations aside it looks like we’re ready to take the Ryan Express. All aboard!

September 26, 1981

Phew, glad that’s over. Rides don’t get much bumpier than that. Well, here we are. She’s a beauty, isn’t she?

The Astrodome was opened in 1965 and was the U.S.’s first domed stadium. It was dubbed “the Eighth Wonder of the World” and still stands to this day, although the Houston Astros haven’t played there since 1999. Prior to their residency at the Astrodome, the Astros were called the Colt .45s and were one of two expansion teams in the National League in 1962, the other being the New York Mets. The Colt .45s played at Colt Stadium for three years while the Astrodome was being built. In 1965 the Colt 45s decided that along with a new stadium, they needed a new name that better reflected Houston as the capital of the U.S.’s space program. And thus the Colt .45s became the Houston Astros. And shortly thereafter the Harris County Domed Stadium became the Astrodome.

The Astrodome sure has a better ring to it than the Harris County Domed Stadium, doesn’t it? One last thing about the Astrodome before I let you get to your ballgame, it also spawned another thing that most baseball fans detested for many years. That’s right, the Astrodome spawned AstroTurf. If you are unfamiliar with AstroTurf then let me say that you are lucky, you know what they say “ignorance is bliss”. Well, pardon me for wiping the smile off your face. AstroTurf is a plastic synthetic grass. The Astros had to use it because, surprise surprise, grass doesn’t do so well in a domed stadium. So after a year of the real stuff, they had to find a replacement, which led to plastic grass. It looks good, but it doesn’t create the best conditions for playing baseball.

So sorry to have taken so much of your time. Oh, look, there’s Nolan now, he’s taking a few warmup pitches. Better get to your seats. Enjoy the game!

Domination In the Dome

Holy moly what a game! That Ryan is a bulldog. Five no-hitters just think of it. Take a back seat Sandy Koufax with your measly four no-hitters (sorry there’s that hatred of the Dodgers again). Did you see that one-handed catch by Terry Puhl? Mike Scioscia gave that ball a ride in the seventh, but Terry wasn’t having it. Also, those eleven strikeouts didn’t hurt. The only downside of the performance was his shakey control over the first few innings, walking three, but by golly that guy was unhittable. A pitching performance for the ages and to think he still has two more no-hitters left in the tank.

Sure hope you all had a great trip. But, sadly all good things must come to an end and this trip is no different. Gather up your belongings and hop on for one last trip on the Ryan Express back to good old 2022. All aboard for the 21st Century!

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Nolan Ryan, Robin Ventura, Sandy Koufax, Terry Puhl, Mike Scioscia