Years of poor play and losing seasons have enabled the Houston Astros to accumulate very high draft picks and build the team that plays its home games at Minute Maid Park – a young and aggressive squad that is in first place and playoff-bound.
The team from southern Texas became a franchise in 1962 along with the New York Mets. But, unlike the team from Flushing, the Astros have never won a World Series.
That may change as early as this season or in the years ahead. This first place team is loaded with young talent and is improving all the time.
That is probably why they draw so well when they play home games at Minute Maid Park. Of course, the park experience (it’s a great place to visit) helps to attract fans, as well.
Minute Maid Park was opened on April 7, 2000 and was fully renovated just ten years later, in 2010. This handsome and modern park was originally called The Ballpark at Union Station. That’s because it was built at the site of the city’s Union Station where passenger trains regularly picked up and discharged commuters.
Minute Maid Park which is, of course, named after the popular orange juice, has a seating capacity of 41,574. Its attendance record was set on May 5, 2010 when a crowd of 43,836 made its way through the turnstiles.
The ballpark’s dimensions are hitter-friendly. It is only 315 feet to the wall in Left Field although there is a nineteen foot fence that turns line drives into doubles instead of home runs. Interestingly, centerfield is a hard-to-reach 436 feet away from home plate.
There is also an incline on the field directly in front of the wall. Known as Tal’s Hill, it is named for a former Houston Astros executive and it presents a defensive challenger to anyone patrolling centerfield.
An outfielder dropping back to catch a fly ball has to move from flat, even ground to an uphill grade. It is easy to lose one’s footing when doing that and it has happened often, primarily to visiting ballplayers.
Among this park’s many features is a giant electronic scoreboard. It measures an impressive fifty four feet by one hundred twenty four feet.
Houston is known for its oppressive humidity. That’s why Minute Maid Park was built with a retractable roof. It stays closed for most games, keeping fans comfortable in the climate-controlled ballpark.
Interesting features are common at this sports venue. One of the park’s largest entrances is actually inside what once was Union Station. And, beyond the left field wall there is a railroad track and a train that runs the entire length of the wall every time an Astros player slugs a home run or the team wins a game.
As seems to be the case with most baseball stadiums, Minute Maid Park plays host to great music acts. Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Jay Z, Nelly, Taylor Swift and others have performed at the park before sellout audiences.
Minute Maid Park is clearly “the place to go” in Houston.
Graphic via drei, convergencedesignllc