Inside we go
APRIL 9, 1965
– Baseball went inside to play for the first time on this date in 1965. The
Houston Colt .45s played the
New York Yankees in an exhibition game at the Harris County Domed Stadium. It was the first domed baseball stadium in the world. The Yankees won 2-1 in 12 innings. Mickey Mantle h
it the first-ever indoor home run. President Lyndon Johnson, a
native, was among the 47,878 fans at the game.
The Harris County Domed Stadium name was soon changed to the Astrodome – the so-called eighth wonder of the world. An architectural marvel, the Dome presented unanticipated challenges. It was built to allow sunlight to come through a series of clear plastic panels in the roof, thus allowing real grass to be planted. It didn’t work. The grass grew okay, but the players couldn’t see fly balls because of the tremendous glare each panel produced. The panels were painted over to block the sun, but of course the grass wouldn’t grow. Necessity being what it is, artificial grass was invented to put down on the field, hence the name Astroturf (is this a great country or what?).
Astroturf became widespread in baseball and football stadiums for indoor and outdoor sports in the 1970s. Thankfully, many teams have gone back to real grass, including the Houston Astros. Today, those who want artificial turf can at least install something that looks and feels like grass, the most popular being FieldTurf.