December 11, 2013
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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Fifty years ago today, baseball took a step toward a brave new world of baseball stadiums. On Dec. 22, 1962, voters in Harris County, Tex., approved the construction of a domed field for the Houston Colt-45s team.
The Astros, as they soon would be re-christened, had just completed their first season. While all expansion squads have a rough first season, Houston had an extra element to contend with: the weather. Apparently, it gets hot in Texas in the summer. Imagine that. Oh, and when you’re that close to the Gulf of Mexico, it gets plenty humid, too.
After a year playing in that heat, the team wanted a new type of ballpark—a dome. That way the team could play out of the elements. More importantly, the fans could sit in an air conditioned environment—and you've got to figure that would make them more willing to come out for a game.
The idea of a dome wasn’t new. Walter O’Malley had called for New York City to build his Dodgers one before moving to Los Angeles. The technology existed to create one, but no team had yet done so.
There were 20 teams in 1962, and 16 of them had been around for over a half-century. Almost all those teams were playing in the same park they’d been in for decades. The only exceptions were the franchises that moved—Braves, A’s, Orioles, Twins, Giants and Dodgers. None had built a dome, though.
None of the four expansion squads had a dome, either. In fact, most had moved into pre-existing stadiums. The Angels shared Dodger Stadium in L.A. The Mets moved into the old Giants stomping grounds, the Polo Grounds. The Senators played in the same ballpark of the old Senators (who had just moved to Minnesota and become the Twins).
Houston had its outdoor Colt Stadium. But, with the voters' help, the team soon would have something different. Well, “soon” might not be the right word for it. The new stadium wasn’t ready until 1965. By that time, the Colt-45s had opted for a new, more space-age nickname: the Astros. After all, Houston was the headquarters for NASA’s Apollo launches. It was a bit more modern than the Wild West-inspired Colt 45s nickname.
Thus the new stadium became the Astrodome. It didn’t open up 50 years ago today, but the vote that took place on Dec. 22, 1962, helped ensure that it would go up.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate an anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim.
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