From the Annals of the Taxpayer Funded Stadiums – In 1962, the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Harris County Domed Stadium (later dubbed the Astrodome) in Houston. It was designed to be the first fully air-conditioned and completely enclosed sports stadium in the world. The Houston team at the time was named the Colt 45’s so the ceremony was not held with the standard gold-plated shovels. Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz and other local dignitaries shot Colt .45 pistols into the dirt. Red is disappointed to learn they shot blanks and that the pistols have been lost to history; but it was a foreboding sign for a team that would take 55 seasons to finally win the World Series. The Astrodome itself is rusting hulk that has now sat empty for more than 15 years.
The plaque reads “She Loved the Astros.”
Houston Astros regular season games are broadcast on AT&T SportsNet Southwest which also provides pre-game and post-game coverage and analysis. However, during the playoffs, ATTSNSW will be the only regional sports network that will not provide such coverage. ATTSNSW is declining to provide the local angle because “they don’t have the rights to broadcast the games.” They are clearly the outlier as the other regional networks will provide coverage before and after each game even thought they are not actually carrying the games either. In the American League, Yankees fans can get the local scoop on YES, Red Sox faithful on NESN, Indians supporters on SportsTime Ohio and A’s hangers-on on NBC Sports California. But for Astros fans, the final chance to hear Todd Kalas, Geoff Blum, Julia Morales, Kevin Eschenfelder and Mike Stanton chat up the Astros will be before and after the final game of the regular season on Sunday. Sad!
From the Annals of MLB – In 1968, the Houston Astros and New York Mets finished the longest night game in Major League history. The game lasted 24 innings and clocked in at six hours six minutes. The game had started on April 15 but did not finish until 1:37 a.m. the next day.
In the bottom of the 24th inning, the Astros loaded the bases. Bob Aspromonte hit a routine grounder to utility infielder Al Weis who was filling in at shortstop because Bud Harrelson had a sore arm. The ball went through his legs to score Norm Miller and end the game with a 1-0 Astros victory. The game was also notable because it was the longest scoreless contest in baseball history.
Sports Illustrated has name two Houston legends – Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt as its Co-Sportspersons of the Year for 2017. They were bestowed the award for entirely different reasons.
Altuve had one of the most magical seasons imaginable winning the American League batting title, MVP and Silver Slugger awards. Oh, and yeah – winning the World Series for the first time in Astros history after the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Altuve carried the team at times during the post-season recording a record 17 hits, 6 home runs and batting .472 at Minute Maid. Other than Mike Trout he is probably the best baseball player alive right now. And by all signs a credit to his community for charitable works and tremendous attitude.
Watt on the other hand, had a miserable 2017 on the field. He played in 4 games with zero sacks and was lost for the season early in the Chiefs game . All of this coming after losing most of the 2016 season to injury as well. Whether he ever returns to the greatness he showed during his first 5 years in the league is questionable at this point. But in the face of Harvey, Watt determined to raise some money for relief. He set his goal at $200,000 and ended up raising $37 million and it appears that almost all of that money has gone or will go to actual relief efforts.
So two Houston athletes get well-deserved kudos from SI.
From the Annals of Baseball – In 1964, the Houston Colt .45s changed their name to the Houston Astros. The name change coincided with the move to the Astrodome (officially the Harris County Domed Stadium) beginning with the 1965 season. The word “Astro” does not appear in the English language and is Greek prefix. The name honored Houston’s position as the center of the nation’s space program with NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Clear Lake. The name change and relocation to the Astrodome did little to improve results on the field. Attendance increased dramatically – but not because of the Astros. Fans from around the country came to see the phenomenon of baseball being played indoors.
From the Annals of World Series – In 2005, the first World Series game ever to be played in Texas started. The Houston Astros played the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Field losing 7-5 in 14 innings. The game was also the longest in World Series history lasting 5 hours and 41 minutes and actually ended on October 26. The long game produced many all-time World Series records. The teams combined to use 17 pitchers (9 White Sox and 8 Astros), throwing a total of 482 pitches, and walking 21 batters (12 by the WS, 9 by the Stros); 43 players were used (the White Sox used 22 and the Astros used 21), and 30 men were left on base (15 for each team). Scott Podsednik set an all-time record with eight at-bats in the game.
The Series itself was remarkable as the teams had combined for 132 years of championship frustration. The Astros had not won in their 44 year history and the Pale Hose last championship had been in 1917. The White Sox would go on to sweep the Astros in 4 games and break their long drought.
From the Annals of MLB – In 2004, after 43 seasons and losing their previous 7 playoff series, the Houston Astros finally won a postseason series by defeating the Atlanta Braves 12-3 in Game 5. The so-called “Killer Bees” led the way with Biggio (.400, 4 RBIs, 4 runs), Bagwell (.318, 5 RBIs, 5 Runs), Berkman (.409, 3 RBIs, 5 Runs) and Beltran (.455, 9 RBIs, 4 Home Runs) as the team scored 36 runs in the 5 game series. Alas, the Astros would go on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
From the Annals of the Eighth Wonder – In 1999, the Houston Astros played their last game in the Astrodome. Predictably it was the last game of a divisional series loss to the Atlanta Braves. After winning the first game in Atlanta, the Astros lost 3 straight to Braves. The Braves held a 7-0 lead after a 5 run 6th inning. The Astros rallied to score 5 runs sparked by a 3 run homer by Tony Eusebio in the 8th inning. The Astros had a chance to tie in the bottom of the 9th. As Jeff Bagwell came to the plate, Red’s buddy the Big Dog remarked, “This is kind of a career-defining moment for Bagwell.” Bagwell failed to deliver. The Astros still had a chance with Ken Caminiti at the plate. Caminiti, who had carried the Astros in the series with 8 RBI’s and a .471 average, hit a long ball to the warning track in left field and the Astros run in the Eighth Wonder of the World was over. The blame largely fell on future Hall of Famers, Bagwell and Craig Biggio who combined for a total of 4 hits while batteing .154 and .105 respectively in the series.