A few years have passed since the days of $1 outfield seating at the Astrodome where my son, Matt, and I would spend our summers.
The dome was an impressive structure – looming like a mountain on the horizon fifteen minutes before we would arrive. Matt would always exclaim, "There it is!" when the roof came into view, and it would be about this time that he would put on his glove and hit it with his fist while occasionally making minute adjustments to the lacing. When we parked he would always run to the entrance with me lagging and sweating behind.
Once inside it was as if we had walked into a meat locker, the temperature a luxurious twenty degrees cooler than the brutal Texas heat. We’d spend the next hour hoping to catch a ball on the fly despite the fact that home runs in the pitcher friendly dome were not all that common, even during batting practice. Inevitably we’d have more balls tossed up to us by players warming up or jogging around the outfield, especially if the Cubs were in town. Matt was a Cubs fan and dressed the part, undoubtably influenced by WGN and a certain opinionated uncle. I guess I couldn’t blame him, though, what was not to like about Grace, Sandberg, Dawson, and Maddux?
I remember one pre game when we were loitering down the first base side and one of the Astros coaches walks by and waves us over. The coach picked up a ball and signed it, handing it to Matt despite the fact he was wearing a Cubs hat and jersey. I thanked him and turned to Matt, wanting to share in this incredible moment, only to see a look of disappointment on his face.
Me: "Wow! Isn’t that…um…what’s wrong?"
Matt: "I was hoping to get Bags or Caminiti or Gonzo."
Me: "Do you know who that was?"
Matt: "No. He was so old."
Me: "Ed Ott!"
Matt: "Who is Ed Ott?"
Me: "A mean-assed catcher for the Pirates. Famous for putting a body slam on a second baseman during a game…I forget who. Won a world series…"
The lapse in my son’s baseball education was, of course, entirely my fault.
Man those were good times.
Fifteen years and 1,667 miles later. I live in Utah, have season tickets to the Ogden Raptors (Dodgers Rookie club), and Matt is grown and has longer hair than Johnny Damon. He cares nothing about baseball.
Three Astros from the 1992 roster are still playing: Luis Gonzalez with the Dodgers, Steve Finley with the Rockies, and Craig Biggio who remains an Astro. The Astros no longer play in the dome or on bad carpet, but on the lush grass at Minute Maid (formerly Enron) Park. I can’t help but note that it is only 315′ to the left field wall. Sheesh.
I was going to get to some sort of point here but the Padres (my adopted west coast NL team) and Dodgers are about to start and I’m on my second pint which has severely eroded what little writing ability I possess.
So see ya around.