Showing posts from April, 2008

The Multi-purpose School of Architecture

Just after posting the Astrodome essay, I realized that while one of the most memorable buildings of its time, it was also part of a School of Architecture that's no longer in session. Those "circular concrete bowls" hit pro sports like a tidal wave during the 1960s and early-'70s -- from the Astrodome (above) to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium (below)... All were designed to house both baseball and football. But the compromise of overlapping diamond-shaped and rectangular playing fields resulted in round, monotonous imperfection, with seats incapable of hugging the sidelines. (above) Washington's RFK Stadium (below) Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia Oakland-Alameida County Coliseum Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati The Kingdome in Seattle And Busch Stadium in St. Louis One thing more... who decided that concrete should be the primary exterior material? It's great for highway ramps and overpasses, but less than captivating for a ballpark. As Yogi Berra once said,

The Eighth Wonder of the World

That's how the Astrodome in Houston was promoted by the Astros' owner Judge Roy Hofheinz. Baseball's first indoor stadium was an architectural marvel and located in the city that's home to the administrative end of the Space Program. I caught a game there on July 10th, 1969. The Astrodome opened in 1965, just a year after Shea Stadium. Both were built as multipurpose stadiums to serve as home field for both baseball and football. Thus the seating layout was a rounded compromise. Sitting in the dome's equivalent of bleacher seats, the game was played in the distance. The Astrodome featured what was then the largest and most highly animated scoreboard system. My one and only visit to the first space-age ballpark came 10 days before man landed on the Moon for the first time. That remarkable roof not only kept out the intense heat of the Texas summer, but rain, bugs and sun -- necessitating installation of baseball's first artificial turf, which fittingly was nam

A Notable Mets Opener

On the day the Mets held their final opener at Shea, it's only fitting to flash back to the first season opener I ever attended. It's April 8th, 1969, and the Mets, who'd never won an opening day game, seemed to have a strong chance to notch one -- their opponent was the newly minted expansion team, the Montreal Expos. The day started bright, if a bit cool. Just five years old, Shea was still considered modern and streamlined. For Montreal, long home to a Dodgers farm club, this was a momentus day, with more than a few fans coming down to New York for the Expos' debut. $1.30 for an upper deck non-reserved ticket, and seats available the day of the game. Perfect timing, too -- it was school vacation week. The pomp and circumstance of opening day meant a marching band on the field to perform the national anthem. This is it -- the first pitch ever thrown in a game played by the Montreal Expos. Maury Wills was the batter. Tom Seaver struck him out. The game was a see

Capping the Dodger Celebration

The Dodgers capped the celebration of their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles Monday with a terrific ceremony just before the season opener against the arch-rival Giants. Legendary lefthander Sandy Koufax centered a trio of Dodger standouts who pitched both in Brooklyn and the inaugural 1958 LA team, along with Carl Erskine (L) and Don Newcombe (R). Thanks to Howard Hoffman for capturing the moment while I was stuck with thousands of others in a monumental parking lot traffic jam. The game also featured the big league debut of the Dodgers rookie third baseman Blake DeWitt. An unheralded minor leaguer who never played higher than Double-A ball, DeWitt won the opening day start with a good spring training while several veterans were plagued by injury. Imagine the thoughts running through his mind during his first at-bat. The result -- a hit in his very first time up. You know that ball winds up in DeWitt's trophy case. Much of the sellout crowd soaks in the sunshine. After a wi