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.
2,000 days since Roger Clemens wins his 350th game.
7,000 days since Joe Carter has his magic moment, with a world championship-winning homer off Mitch Williams off Mitch Williams for a 8-6 Toronto triumph over the Phillies in Game Six of the 1993 World Series.
9,000 days since Baltimore releases former star pitcher Scott McGregor.
9,000 days since Mark Grace makes his big league debut.
20,000 days since the White Sox purchase contact hitter Don Mueller from the Giants.
40,000 days since Hall of Fame outfielder Ed Delahanty becomes sad, talks to his teammates about death, and says he has a life insurance policy. In a few weeks, he will kill himself.
1862 Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack is born.
1881 Hall of Fame skipper Harry Wright signs on to manage the Providence Grays.
1915 The AL and NL sign a peace treaty with the Federal League. The AL/NL will pay Federal League owners, who in turn drop their antitrust lawsuit against the two established leagues.
1921 Socks Seybold, 1900s slugger for the A’s, dies at age 51 when his car goes over an embankment.
1938 Matty Alou, outfielder, is born.
1940 Ellie Hendricks, catcher, is born.
1944 Steve Carlton, 300 game winner, is born.
1948 Steve Garvey, one-time NL MVP, is born.
1953 Jack Dunn III officially turns the name “Orioles” over to the new Baltimore franchise. The Dunn family owned an old minor league Baltimore Orioles franchise.
1954 Ken Landreaux, outfielder from 1977-87, is born.
1955 Lonnie Smith, who led the league in runs scored in 1982, is born.
1964 Mike Jackson, reliever who appeared in over 1,000 games, is born.
1980 St. Louis releases outfielder Bobby Bonds.
1988 The Hashin Tigers purchase Cecil Fielder from Toronto. He learns to hit breaking pitches in Japan, allowing him to return to the States as a great slugger.
1994 Cincinnati signs free agent Jack Morris. He never throws a pitch for the Reds
1994 Negotiations between the players’ union and baseball owners break down with no progress. The strike goes on.
1995 Anheuser-Busch agrees to sell the Cardinals for $150 million to William DeWitt and a group he heads.
1995 Florida signs free agent pitcher Kevin Brown. He’ll be fantastic for the Marlins in 1996.
1997 The Mets trade outfielder Carl Everett to Houston.
1998 The Pirates sign free agent pitcher Todd Ritchie, who is good for them.
1999 John Rocker’s reputation craters when a Sports Illustrated article with him offends millions of people for his statements on minorities, gays, New York City residents, and various others. Until this time, he actually had a good reputation. In the 1999 postseason, the TV broadcasters played up his gung-ho attitude and the way he’d run to the mound from the bullpen.
2000 Seattle signs free agent second baseman Bret Boone, who will have a tremendous season with the Mariners.
2005 Detroit signs free agent reliever Todd Jones, who returns to the team he’d first been a closer for.
2005 Minnesota signs the oft-injured Rondell White.
2006 Sam Chapman, who represented the A’s in the 1946 All-Star game, dies at age 90.
2010 The drunk driver responsible for the death of three people—including Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart—is sentenced to 51 years in jail. The driver had a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit, and blew a red light before he hit Adenhart’s car.