It’s Still the Same Old Story: Dome Sky ’65

Walt Bond of the Astros, left, awaits his turn in the batting cage during the club’s first workout in the club’s new domed stadium. Manager Lum Harris, right, and scout Larry Smith inspect the plant. (UPI Telephoto)

Astrodome Trouble

Thrown and Batted Balls Act Okeh, But Flies Are Problems

Houston – AP – The Houston Astros agree (that) a thrown and batted ball behaves in the $31.6 million dollar Harris County Domed Stadium about like it does outdoors.

But catching it can present a problem.

The Astros tested the multi-purp0se Stadium for the first time in force Wednesday with batting practice and an intra-squad game.

Sun Reflection

During the afternoon batting practice most of the Astros had trouble catching pop and fly balls as the sun penetrated the dome and reflected against the bright center field seats.

Another intra-squad game is scheduled this afternoon as the Astros want to familiarize themselves as much as possible with their new home before they introduce they introduce indoor major league baseball with a six-game Friday to Monday exhibition to league opening schedule.

Houston and the New York Yankees open the stadium Friday night and the Astros play Baltimore Saturday afternoon and Sunday night and the Yankees again Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Houston and Philadelphia play the (NL) league opener on Monday night.

1st Houston MLB Game Foes in Astrodome, April 1965

Visitors   Fri Apr 09   Sat Apr 10   Sun Apr 11   Mon Apr 12
Day Game No Game Orioles Yankees No Game
Night Game Yankees Yankees Orioles Phillies *

* NL Season Opener for Astros

Trouble Tracking Ball

During the batting practice, the players had trouble tracking the ball against the grillwork of the skylights and girders of the roof.

General Manager Paul Richards, and Field Manager Luman Harris both said they felt that the matter could be settled without difficulty.

Richards said that the lights would be turned on for the intra-squad game this afternoon.

“I think it will be all right,” he said.

Harris termed it a minor problem and added:

“If everyone had been wearing sunglasses, there would have been no problem.”

After noticing several veterans, such as Nellie Fox, now a coach, misjudge the ball several times, Richards asked newsmen:

“How many day games do we have?”

He was told there will be 21 games, 18 starting at 1:30 p.m., CST, and three at 3:15 p.m. CST.

“I didn’t realize it was that many,” he said.

Only four day games were played in the temporary (Colt) stadium last year because of the heat.

“You are going to have to watch it close at this time (4:30 p.m.) of day,” he said.

Club officials has said it may be necessary to keep the arc lights on even during afternoon games.

Many of the Astros wandered around the new stadium like it was a museum.

Catcher Ron Brand called it “fantastic”, but he added “it may be hard to catch a fly ball.”

“Any outfielder who catches  fly ball should get a $50 dollar raise,” recommended pitcher Ken Johnson.

Hal Woodeshick

“Does your curve ball really break, Woody?” someone asked pitcher Hal Woodeshick.

“I don’t know,” answered the honest southpaw. “I ain’t got a curve ball.”

… an AP article from the Sacramento Bee, April 8, 1965, another wonderful contribution to The Pecan Park Eagle by our good baseball friend, Darrell Pittman. – Thanks again, Darrell. Without the 1965 AP article you sent us, this column would not have been possible.


TPPE Notes: It may always be the same old story to those of us with ancient roots to Houston Baseball, but there’s a whole world out there, including some who live among us on the Texas Gulf Coast who could stand to learn more about how those first ball sight issues let inadvertently to commercial and cultural changes that made the historic significance of the Astrodome even more important to the world than it might otherwise have become. Keep your eyes open over the next year or two. One of our best local baseball writers is working on a new contribution to the Astrodome story.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle




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