Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Golden anniversary: Astrodome groundbreakingPosted by Chris Jaffe
Fifty years ago, a big moment in the history of sports stadiums occurred. On Jan. 3, 1962, the groundbreaking occurred for the Astrodome in Houston. It famously would become the first domed stadium in baseball.
Nicknamed the eighth wonder of the world, the stadium would be the first to play baseball indoors and protect the players from the elements. Plans for an indoor stadium had been around for years. The Dodgers wanted one for themselves in Brooklyn before opting to leave for Los Angeles instead. Houston decided to build one due to the extreme summer weather of the region. Protecting fans from the dog days of a Texas summer would make fans more willing to check out the team.
Sure, other sports had indoor stadiums. All hockey and basketball games are played indoors, but they weren’t the size and scope of Astrodome. It seated over 42,000 when it finally opened. Its dome was over 200 feet over the field and over 700 feet long. It was also capable of being home to a football team, making it one of the first stadiums intended to host multiple sports.
Nowadays, multipurpose stadiums have a bad reputation. Their popular image is of a sterile place lacking in distinctive character, purely functional without any charm. It should be noted that when the multipurpose wave began, they generally were quite well regarded. They had far better amenities than the previous stadiums (which often seemed like dumps in comparison). They were more advanced and seemed like the wave of the future.
Obviously, the Camden Yards generation of stadium pushed the multipurpose ones in the past. The Astrodome itself is generally in terrible shape. It no longer hosts any sports and is deteriorating. It has been cited for numerous code violations, and only maintenance workers and security guards have been allowed to enter the place since 2008. Simply put, a huge place like the Astrodome requires considerable effort to maintain, and there’s far less incentive to keep it in good shape now that it doesn’t host any teams.
The present (and future) for the Astrodome is bleak, but its past is memorable, and that past began 50 years ago today.
Aside from that, plenty of other events celebrate their anniversaries or “day-versaries” (which is an event occurring X-thousands days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you prefer to skim the lists:
A thousand days since Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo becomes the only pitcher to ever homer off Randy Johnson. It’s a three-run shot in a game the Brewers win by two runs, 4-2.
To thousand days since the Reds trade Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner to the Nationals for Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, Gary Majewski and two other players.
Two thousand days since Mark Teixeira hits three homers in one game for Texas.
Two thousand days since Tampa’s all-time cumulative record hits .500 (11-11), and it’s been under it ever since.
Five thousand days since the Tigers trade David Wells to the Reds.
Six thousand days since John Kruk hits a single—and then immediately retires from baseball. He’s pulled for a pinch runner as he really does leave the game in the middle of a game.
Six thousand days since the Twins trade pitcher Kevin Tapani to LA.
Six thousand days since the Mets trade pitcher Bret Saberhagen to the Rockies
Six thousand days since San Diego trades Andy Benes to Seattle.
Nine thousand days since pitcher Luke Sewell dies.
Twenty thousand days since the Kansas City A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates play in a spring training game that ends in a scoreless tie after 18 innings. It ends by mutual consent of both teams. Only 432 fans paid to see the game.
Thirty thousand days since the Braves trade two players and send cash to the Los Angeles team in the Pacific Coast League for star center fielder Wally Berger. This turns out to be a really good move for Boston.
Thirty thousand days since Jimmy Piersall, baseball player who had the movie Fear Strikes Out made about him, is born.
Thirty thousand days since Hall of Fame starting pitcher Iron Man Joe McGinnity dies.
Forty thousand days since 200-game winning pitcher Jack Powell surrenders two inside the park homers in one game.
1899 Doc Adams, largely forgotten founding father of baseball, dies in New Haven, Conn..
1906 Gus Suhr, infielder, is born.
1910 Frenchy Bordagaray, who for a long time was the last player to have facial hair, is born.
1911 A new rule bars players from taking part in barnstorming off-season tours.
1912 Cliff Melton, a pitcher who once started over 20 double header games in one season, is born.
1913 The American Association's Louisville club trades Mordecai Brown to the Reds.
1920 Boston’s sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000 is made public.
1923 Boston trades George Pipgras to the Yankees.
1943 Hall of Fame second baseman Bid McPhee dies.
1961 Frank “Trader” Lane quits his job as Cleveland general manager to becomes GM for the Kansas City A’s.
1966 Baltimore releases veteran pitcher Harvey Haddix.
1973 George Steinbrenner purchases the Yankees from CBS for $10 million.
1974 The Yankees hire Bill Virdon as their manager.
1977 A.J. Burnett, pitcher, is born.
1977 Kansas City releases veteran pitcher Lindy McDaniel.
1978 Joe McCarthy, arguably the best manager in baseball history, dies at age 90.
1984 Oakland signs amateur free agent Felix Jose.
1985 In the January draft, Houston takes Mel Stottlemyre, who it will sign, while St. Louis drafts Todd Stottlemyre, who it will not sign. Also drafted (and later signed) are Chuck Finley by the Angels and John Wetteland by the Dodgers. Pittsburgh drafts Greg Vaughn, but won’t sign him.
1985 San Diego signs free agent Jerry Royster.
1991 Hall of Fame shortstop “Old Aches and Pains” Luke Appling dies.
2000 The Mets release slugger Bobby Bonilla.
2002 Seattle signs free agent Ruben Sierra.
2004 “Daddy Wags” Leon Wagner dies.
2005 The Angels announce that they will be known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
2005 The White Sox sign free agent Orlando Hernandez.
2006 The Nationals sign free agent Tony Armas Jr.
2006 Florida signs free agent Joe Borowski.
2007 Baltimore signs free agent Aubrey Huff
2008 Oakland trades Nick Swisher, star of the 2002 Moneyball draft, to the White Sox for Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney and Fautino De Los Santos.
2011 Baltimore pitcher Alfredo Simon surrenders to the police in the Dominican Republic over an accidental fatal shooting on New Year’s Eve.
2011 Texas signs what’s left of Brandon Webb.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.