I never saw a game at Colt Stadium, home of the Houston Colt 45’s from 1962-1964, but I managed a visit.
For those of you familiar with the greater Houston area, the stadium was built just off the I-610 Loop that circumvents Houston. The area where Colt Stadium was located is next to the Astrodome that became the home of the Astros in 1965.
In 1973 I was in the Houston area and on my agenda was a visit to AstroWorld, a Six Flags theme park, and the Astrodome. While roaming the theme park I discovered that the old Colt Stadium was still alive, but not so well. It had become a junk yard. I went anyway.
As a baseball fan is there anything worse, aside from your team losing, than to see an old ballpark on the verge of ruin? As I walked around with a security guard I was warned about a danger that was actually present during Major League games – rattlesnakes. Great.
You could still see how this stadium had only been a temporary home, and even that was a picture in your mind. Most of it had vanished. An old scoreboard, a dismal reminder of the past, stood as a worn guardian. Junk piled about was scattered among the weeds.
I had seen pictures and, quite frankly, it was far from being Major League standard. The stands were mostly open with decrepit wooden walkways. But where were they? All I saw was a few pieces and a storage area that would be a picker’s field day. Answer? It was moved.
Seems the owner, Judge Roy Hofheinz, a long time mover in the Houston area, sold it to the Torrean Cotton Pickers of the Mexico League. No wonder it was wooden. Just maybe the sly old judge, and former Houston mayor, knew that would allow portability?
For many years I had a condo on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, Texas and have discussed the old Colt Stadium with fans familiar with it and the first word – always – is heat. The stands were open and Houston in the summer is oppressive. The heat and humidity just drains you and to sit in open stands in the daytime takes a level of courage I do not have.
It didn’t stop with the heat.
Next up from those in-the-know is the real state bird, at least in the Houston area, the mosquito. The area around Colt Stadium is and was a swamp. Everything in Texas is supposed to be big and the mosquitoes are no exception. I actually believe they perch on telephone wires waiting to pounce. They can match up with any Maine Black Fly.
The Astrodome disappointed me and to this day I have little positive to say about an enclosed, domed baseball field. Most have been demolished or been redesigned.
I grew up near South Weymouth, Massachusetts Naval Air Station. The center piece was an immense hangar used to store blimps that were used extensively as part of anti-submarine warfare. The hanger was cavernous with steel lattice-work providing the interior of the structure. The Astrodome eerily reminded me of that.
The construction was first generation domed and provided the testing ground for eventually what became Enron Field and now renamed Minute Maid Park. The older domes have either said hello to the wrecking ball or have been modified to take advantage of improved engineering and for reuse.
I can’t fault the sight lines; food and beverage and accessibility was great. But the experience of watching baseball inside the cavernous dome had no aesthetic qualities. The Dome was, to me, a novelty item. Necessary thanks to Houston in summer weather.
The Astrodome sits today and slowly rots away. Various attempts to resuscitate the Astrodome have failed. In a few years it will not be moved to Mexico, but become a demolition project.