Houston, We Have Indoor Baseball

Picture_of_Reliant_Astrodome

 

Take some time to imagine this. Playing baseball where the sun doesn’t shine. Now imagine playing baseball in a place where no kind of weather takes place, only that which HVAC controls. Mom always said don’t play ball in the house. But imagine that your house is wider than a baseball field and 18 stories high.

Well, in 1965, such a place would come to fruition. The place: Houston, Texas,USA. The Astrodome. During the 1960s, man would be trying to reach the moon, and eventually got there by decades’ end. Closer to Earth, humans were trying to figure out how to attract Major League Baseball to Houston, and cope with Houston’s hot, humid, mosquito-clad environment.

In 1962,  baseball would come to Houston in the form of the Houston Colt .45s, named for the gun that would epitomize the west. This is Texas. With Houston growing as a city, it seemed fitting that Major League Baseball would have a team there. However, Colt Stadium was an outdoor stadium. And Houston’s geography made it difficult to play baseball. Heat and humidity, mosquitoes (Houston is located on Buffalo Bayou), and the afternoon thunderstorm during late afternoon.

How does one respond to such geography and weather? Go inside. And with that, a stadium was constructed for that purpose. By 1965, it was named the Astrodome, and would be the new home of the newly named Houston Astros for the next 35 seasons. And this home was complete with air conditioning.

This will not get into the architecture of the Astrodome or its putt-putt playing surface. This however, will get into the geography of baseball in Houston. It is fitting that the Astrodome was built in Houston,TX. Before 1962, Major League Baseball never went that far South.  Anaheim, a Los Angeles suburb in Orange County, was the furthest south baseball went. However, being so far west, and being on the chilly eastern Pacific Ocean, summers were relatively cooler, and drier. More comfortable for the players.

In many ways the Astrodome represented a new frontier for baseball. A growing city in the sunbelt region. Houston was beginning to throw off the shackles of Jim Crow. It would also represent the hottest place baseball would be played, until 1972 when an a metro with even hotter summers, the Dallas-Ft Worth region, would be given the Texas Rangers baseball team. It represented the first time baseball would go indoors because of the climate/geography of the local area. It is fitting that a Houston baseball team is called the Astros. With the NASA space program making its home in Houston, and baseball having to be on the cutting technology to respond to the geography of Houston, this was very fitting. Houston Astros would reiterate this  in 2000, when it moved into Reliant Stadium, an indoor stadium with a retractable dome.

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