Dome History Tribute to Wayne Chandler

 

Remember this guy from the original Astrodome scoreboard?

 

Most of you won’t know of his name. If you ever watched an Astros game from the Astrodome, however, you will know of this quiet gentle man from all he did to alter the way we all watch games today in any big league park.

I really only knew of Wayne Chandler until recent years, when he either joined SABR or became an active member of of those who gather monthly for those wonderful evenings. It was through our local Larry Dierker chapter that I really started to get to know the man who did one of the loudest, and certainly most graphic things at the Astrodome over the years – and in exchange for barely hearable or unspoken credit for being the person who literally pushed the buttons of change on how modern fans of big league baseball “see” the game today through a continuously evolving visual presentation of the action via special digital screens and scoreboards in all stadiums that have all followed the original Astrodome prototype for (KA-POW! – IN YOUR FACE! – HERE IT IS!) visual energy and all the musical and driving sound background features that thematically pound every moment from pitching changes to critical walk-off hits.

The following contributory article from Darrell Pittman covers the early new offerings on the scoreboard at the Astrodome from 1965 forward. Whatever else Wayne Chandler did in his many years of faithful service to the Houston Astros is duly noted, but this is not his job resume’ at age 89 and still going strong in life. It is a “put-up-our-hands-and-say-clearly” to Astros historians and all former members of the organization that’s it high tine that Wayne Chandler be given due credit for what he literally did. – He’s the man who changed the way we watch baseball at place like the Astrodome, going forward.

A whole generation of young Houstonians grew up with the four images shown in our opening graphic. Those images spoke for the plight and destiny of the failed opposing pitcher when he was pulled from the mound and sent to the showers.

If anyone out there, including Wayne Chandler, would like to write a deeper informed column about the role of Wayne Chandler in this major presentation change through technological advances, The Pecan Park Eagle would welcome your submission by e-mail.

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In the meanwhile, here’s the article that Darrell Pittman found for us in the April 11, 1095 edition of the Victoria (TX) Advocate:

April 11, 1965 Victoria Advocate

Pitchers Beware: Mad Scoreboard

HOUSTON (AP) – The Houston Domed Stadium may turn out to be the most traumatic place in the world for the unfortunate visiting pitcher who throws a home run ball.

Let’s reconstruct a scene Saturday in the exhibition game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Houston Astros.

It’s the bottom of the third. Baltimore pitcher Dave McNally has already given up four runs in the first inning. Now there are two on base.

Wham!

Houston’s Jim Beauchamp slams a homer into the center field bleachers. While the three runs cross the plate, nightmarish sounds and sights erupt from the $2 million scoreboard.

Shoulders slumped, hands on hips, McNally turns to watch.

In colored lights on the scoreboard, the dome blows off the stadium… home run flashes… rockets zip red tracings from end to end of the board… cowboys chase longhorn steers… and, finally, two big steer heads appear, each with a United States flag flying from one horn and the Lone Star flag of Texas from the other, which the loud speakers blare “The Eyes of Texas.”

McNally slowly turns  back to the mound. Can this be real? Is it really happening? Or is it only a horrible dream?

He tugs on his cap, wiggles his shoulders, sticks out his chin and fires.

Mike White smacks the ball into deep left field for a double, and McNally is yanked.

Low in heart and mind, he starts off the field. Is he allowed to make the long, lonely walk in a decent pall of gloom?

No, there’s that infernal scoreboard lighting up again.

This time on comes an animated picture of a jowly, grim-visaged manager. His mouth opens wide and in giant, black capital letters out float the words: “Pitcher out? To the showers?”

The scene changes to a slump-shouldered dejected pitcher ambling under a shower head. He removes his cap, and spray begins pelting him.

Mercifully, a black curtain rises and cuts off the tragic scene.

The crowd guffaws.

McNally disappears into the dugout.

Has he just had a nightmare: No, it’s all too real.

That’s what happens to unlucky visiting pitchers.

But what happens when somebody belts a homer off an Astro pitcher?

The scoreboard flashed “tilt.” And the game goes on.

  • Victoria Advocate, Victoria 11, 1965

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Here at The Eagle, we just want shout it loud and wish we had a cartoon presentation to go with it:

 

“The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You!”

 

CONGRATULATIONS, WAYNE CHANDLER! ~ YOU IT UP OUR BASEBALL EYES IN WAYS WE’D NEVER PREVIOUSLY KNOWN! – AND, OH YES, – ‘THE EYES OF TEXAS ARE UPON YOU FOR BEING AN OUTTA THE PARK GUY!

~ Bill McCurdy, Publisher, The Pecan Park Eagle

 

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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5 Responses to “Dome History Tribute to Wayne Chandler”

  1. materene Says:

    Heh, nice story and write up. Unfortunately I never got to see all this since I was going to high school in Oklahoma City then finally joining the Army Nov 65, so this great little piece was very good to read about my home and dome and people. I can only imagine how a visiting pitcher felt with that sign teasing him ;0)

  2. Wayne A Chandler Says:

    Bill, I just wish that you had mentioned my name a couple more times!. The pitcher to the showers routine, probably, the best of all that we had, was created and offered by Ed Henderson while Bill Giles was in charge. Ed did virtually all of the middle screen items, and we all enjoyed them

    Bill, you’re too generous but I appreciate it. My time at the Astrodome now seems eons ago, but I do still have fond memories from that first 10 years in the Dome. Thanks, Bill.

    • Tom Hunter Says:

      Mr. Chandler: Wasn’t there also a Fred Flintstone cartoon that was linked to Astros reliever Fred Gladding?

  3. shinerbock80 Says:

    The best part about Wayne, even better than the incredible catalogue of good stories, is that he (and his wife) are wonderfully nice people. It has been a pleasure every time I get to hang out with Wayne.

  4. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Ok, some of these details are a little blurry with age. In the late 1980s there was a sports card shop in the old (and dying) Westbury Square. In it I found a small paper bound book with all of the scoreboard characters. I believe the shop owner was the person who did the cartoons and he autographed it for me. As I write I do not recall the name. The book is somewhere in a storage shed of memorabilia I’ve collected through the years. I don’t have time to search for it but when I come across it I’ll be happy to share. It’s pretty cool.

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