Baseball From Chicago To Houston, Part 6: Houston

Houston, Texas (Map)

Spring 2015


I allotted most of our spare time today to walking around Dallas, but we also left time for fear of running into traffic along the way to Houston.

While dreaming about this trip and planning things back in Corner Brook, I found places to stop and stuff to see for this day, but of course with swimming at the Sheraton and walking downtown Dallas, there was far less time than I imagined.

The drive was pretty ho-hum, save for stopping for these Kevin Durant-endorsed fattening shakes at Sonic, that is, after hearing about 100 radio commercials and letting it get the best of us.


The interstate between Dallas and Houston was much better than the road between Gainesville and Dallas. We arrived in Houston in plenty of time, finding a parking meter spot outside the stadium and enjoying some of the last beers of the trip. While some look at it as something to outgrow, I savour the nostalgic feeling of sitting in the rental and (maybe) having a beer or two instead of going to the local generic bar.

Just across the street was this great angle iron ledge that I surprisingly didn't recognize from any BMX videos. Then again, from walking around today & after that Radiohead concert, I haven't seen too many worthwhile things to ride in downtown Houston. Maybe it's skipped over by the professionals for a reason.

Houston was granted an expansion team in 1960 and planned on starting play in 1962.

While their first solidified home was being built, a temporary stadium by the name of Colt Stadium was built in the parking lot. This temporary stadium consisted of grandstands from foul pole to foul pole and a few seats in the outfield. The Astros would move to the Astrodome upon its completion in 1965, but would still use Colt Stadium occasionally to prepare for hot weather road trips (although they notably had to be careful of the odd rattlesnake that by that time had taken up residence in the abandoned outfield).

Colt Stadium was dismantled and moved to Gomez Palacio in Mexico, to be reassembled as a Mexican League Stadium (info from The Houston Chronicle has some great Colt Stadium/Astrodome pictures and Wikipedia has a picture of abandoned deep left at Colt Stadium in 1973.

The Astros would move to the Astrodome in 1965. The Astrodome being the first domed stadium & such a groundbreaking venue that it became known as the 8th wonder of the world and was featured in their logo for the next 28 years.

After the All Star Game was held at the Astrodome in 1986, the then owners of the Astros were tired of it by the early 1990s. Renovations that were focused towards the Houston Oilers (football) left the Astros pouty and threatening to leave Houston for the Washington DC area.

The Astros would be sold to a Texan who had no interest in Washington DC, but in only 5 short years, he also learned how pro sports work and demanded a downtown stadium. Upset with the lackluster response from the City of Houston, owner Drayton McLane put the team up for sale to a businessman who wanted to move the Astros to Northern Virginia. By this point though, owners and the NFL stepped in and asked Houston extra nice for a new stadium - and with the Houston Oilers having just left because the taxpayers wouldn't build them a new football stadium - the taxpayers decided to just give into the demands of the Astros and the 324th richest American (Drayton McLane's net worth in 2016: $2 billion).

Harris County taxpayers would approve a ballpark subsidy with a 51% to 49% vote in 1996. Minute Maid Park was originally supposed to be built out by the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium, but the CEO of Enron, Kenneth Lay, committed money to the project if it could be built downtown on the Union Station site instead. There was discussion and delay as to whether this would work in Houston, but thankfully they joined the growing group of cities deciding to build their baseball stadiums downtown. (I've since been to a football game in Houston and it's so far outside of downtown and such a pain in the ass to reach.)

Minute Maid would open in the year 2000 as Enron Field. After Enron's famous fall from grace in 2001, the Astros fought to get out of that naming deal, then sold naming rights to Minute Maid Orange Juice for $100 million over 30 years.

One of the unique features of Minute Maid Park was the hill out in center field known as Tal's Hill - named for then Astros president Tal Smith. While Clarkman and I both loved seeing Tal's Hill and the amazing catch that Jake Marisnick made tripping up it during our game, the above picture is the only passable picture I snapped of the hill (and it's in the shadows at the bottom left). Tal's Hill is being removed for 2017, because we can't have unique things in professional sports anymore.

Another thing I was excited to see was how they implemented Union Station into Minute Maid Park. While not monumental like the railroad stations of Kansas City or Detroit, Union Station in Houston was listed on the NRHP and officials decided to honour that here and implement it into the stadium.

Walking over and trying to shoot pictures through the glass door, there was a special security guard for this area who told me that I couldn't proceed because the old train station was for special parties.

Over the course of trying to take some pictures though, a lady inside said it was okay and not to wander very far - and while the original guy said if I went into the train station I officially left the game and couldn't re-enter, I stayed very close to the door as I composed some quick pictures.

Speaking of Jake Marisnick, while I didn't have him on my fantasy team, for one reason or another I loaded up on Astros in 2015 and I ended up with a miraculous winning season where I won $400 in my baseball league.

While we were at the game it was still early in the season, but it was great seeing my cornerstone Jose Altuve, my cheeky pick Evan Gattis and my young superstar George Springer.

The Astros won 11-4 and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

^The view from our seats.

Clarkman and I would stay until the end of the game because even though it was the end of the trip, we weren't going out tonight. While I'm always one to hang on and drag things out, Clarkman still wasn't feeling very good. In fact, we had a hostel booked here in Houston, but because it wasn't that much and it was southwest of downtown, Clarkman simply ate the cost because he wanted to rest up and be closer the airport in the morning.

After the game, we walked back to our rental and headed up to the La Quinta that's all of 3 minutes from George Bush International. Reaching the motel, Clarkman was sleeping within a half hour, while I hung onto the trip by drinking some weak 40 that was left over from some liquor store, watching that MTV movie about the girl who has the checklist of sexual things to accomplish. (I had no idea what the movie was, I simply saw Rachel Bilson and put down the remote.)

Clarkman had a flight at something like 8am, so he left me the rental and took the La Quinta shuttle. I simply woke up to an empty Houston airport motel room.

Using the WiFi to find the nearest Taco Bell, I noticed that it was also one of the new Taco Bell branded with a big ol' breakfast sign. While I didn't have that much interest in Taco Bell breakfast, I figured why the hell not as I'm your source of Taco Bell information and news.

The first thing was some weird burrito that was reminiscent of that mediocre menu that has things like potato burritos on it. This was a burrito with a steak slab, egg and cheese.

Verdict: I wouldn't have it again. It was fine, but it was also bland and unexciting.


The thing that was surprisingly good was the breakfast crunchwrap - but it was also sort of relying on crunchwraps being delicious and then adding avocado.

And I know plenty of you aren't having Taco Bell avocado - you don't trust your bodies like I do. Regardless of what you do with your life, I would have another one of these.

The thing Taco Bell got right was these little Cinnabon balls as the side order.

Oh. My. God. While I thought the crunchwrap was good, these things were crack cocaine.

The funny thing is that I could just go to Cinnabon for them though. Regardless, I wished that I could pick up Taco Bell breakfast coffee and Cinnabon balls every morning, but alas I decide to live the life of an 1800s fur trapper up here in empty, vanilla Corner Brook.

Anyway, I would fly direct here for once, only going from eating Pappadeaux's at Houston Airport then over to Detroit.

Wait, what? Next update coming around mid-December.


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Southwest Detroit's Hotel Yorba

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Baseball from Chicago to Houston,
Part 5: Dallas


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From Windsor to Western Newfoundland,
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1 - Colt Stadium -
2 - Colt Stadium - Wikipedia
3 - Drayton McLane Jr. - Forbes

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