Fly Balls Still Falling in Astrodome (1965)

Artistic Apology from Bill McCurdy
Sandbox Artist, Pecan Park Eagle


Fly Balls Still Falling in Dome


If major league baseball players miss four fly balls when there is very little sun in Houston’s $31.6 million Domed Stadium, how many will they miss when the sun shines brightly?

That was a pertinent question Saturday after Houston defeated Baltimore 11-8 in the first daylight game played in the new park.

The day was overcast with little sun shining through the dome, but two Orioles and two Astros had trouble with four of the 24 balls hit into the air.

Left fielders Boog Powell of Baltimore and Mike White of Houston each misjudged a fly, with the balls falling behind them for hits. Oriole catcher John Orsino couldn’t make a try for a pop foul behind the plate because he didn’t see it.

Center fielder Jim Wynn of the Astros got his glove on a fly but was unable to hold it. Wynn collected four hits in the game while teammate Jim Beauchamp drove in six runs, three with a third-inning homer.

~ Victoria (TX) Advocate, Sunday, April 11, 1965


Art Credit to Cartoonist Bud Bentley of the Houston Post


Saved By The Weather

Astros Planned $250,000 Refund

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros were prepared to offer about $250,000 in refunds to 70,629 cash customers had the Saturday and Sunday afternoon exhibition games in the Astrodome turned into comedies of errors.

Overcast skies, however, made refunds unnecessary. There was practically no glare in the indoor stadium and the Astros, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles had little difficulty handling pop and fly balls.

The refund plan resulted from a Thursday afternoon intra-squad game when most outfield flies were missed because the Astros could not follow the balls in the glare caused by a bright sun penetrating the plastic dome.

Paul Richards, Astro general manager, revealed his refund proposal Monday and commended the club owners, R.E. (Bob) Smith and Judge Roy Hofheinz, for giving quick approval.

Richards said he went to Hofheinz three hours before Saturday’s game with the Baltimore Orioles and said: “Judge, hold onto your seat belt, I got something to tell you.”

Richards said he told the judge:

“If the sun comes out and the ball game this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon turns into a Keystone comedy with the players unable to follow the ball, we have no choice but to announce every ticket stub will be refunded in cash or replaced with a ticket for a future game.

“I thought he would swallow his cigar. The judge gave me one look of complete amazement. But after about 10 seconds he said, ‘I think you’re right. We’ve gained a billion dollars’ worth of goodwill through publicity, and we can’t afford to jeopardize this great start’.”

~ Victoria (TX) Advocate, Tuesday, April 13, 1965


Thanks again to Darrell Pittman for these two early articles on “The Sky Is Falling” April 1965 period in Astrodome history. As you now well know, the problem would lead to solutions for artificial playing surfaces that would transform the game and spawn whole new industries and trademark names for something we all once simply referred to as “grass”.



Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




2 Responses to “Fly Balls Still Falling in Astrodome (1965)”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    It is instructive to note that when the Dome opened for exhibition games it was not just the Yankees and Astros, but Baltimore was also there and when the dust had settled over 200,000 fans had attended the series of games. Not many people know or remember that. Kudos for Mr Pittman finding those old stories.

  2. Mark W Says:

    I’m so grateful to my father for taking me to that first game. I still remember the sense of awe I (and so many others) felt the first time we laid eyes on the interior of that arena. I still see that Mickey Mantle line drive sailing deep over the center field wall and into the Domeskeller. I still have my game program.

    Save that edifice!

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