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[Editor’s Note: Reader Ignacio Salazar (that’s his ring-bejeweled finger shown above) attended the recent Domecoming event in Houston and put together a first-hand report. Enjoy. — PL]
By Ignacio Salazar
On April 9, the Astrodome celebrated its 53rd birthday and opened its doors to the public one last time before a $105 million makeover begins this fall to convert the Eighth Wonder of the World into an underground parking garage and event space.
Twenty-five thousand Houstonians came out in full force to partake in festivities, reminisce about the past, and have one final look. I was lucky enough to arrive early and enter immediately at 5pm, but some fans waited patiently for up to three hours before entering.
Once I was inside, I took the steps down to the Astrodome’s floor. It wasn’t the first time I’d been there — back in 1997, when the Astros clinched their first division title since 1986, I followed the flow of the crowd and stormed the field. It might be the first and last time that’s ever happened at the Dome.
Down on the floor, there was a tour featuring a maze of memorabilia and former players. I stopped and talked to former Houston Gamblers offensive lineman Scott Boucher and wide receiver Gerald McNeil. Their eyes lit up talking about their USFL days, the demise of the league, and how you can still catch full games on YouTube. It was quite the pleasure talking to them.
I also saw Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Elvin Bethea and quarterback Dan Pastorini — both from the “Luv Ya Blue”-era Houston Oilers — giving interviews and mingling with fans next to a locker with their jerseys and helmets on display. Many fans presented them with original Oilers memorabilia for them to sign.
Also along the route, Astros jerseys from throughout the team’s history filled the aisles. Former Astros fireballer J.R. Richard greeted fans as they came by, posed for pictures, and signed autographs.
Along with jerseys and helmets, there were original models of the Astrodome, a vintage Astrodome sign advertising $3 parking, and original art showing former Astros stars Nolan Ryan and Jose Cruz.
There was also an original “Spacette” suit worn by female ushers. And at the end of the tour, there was an actual former Spacette, Barbara Hauser, who was wearing her original Spacette uniform and touring the Dome with her husband. She told her story of how special it was to work at the Astrodome on Opening Day in 1965. She vividly remembered President Lyndon B. Johnson and wife, Lady Bird, being in attendance and told her story like it happened yesterday.
[As an aside, it turns out that this wasn’t the first time Ms. Hauser had worn her old Spacette uni in recent years. — PL]
I didn’t leave right away when I finished the tour, I hung around for two more hours to soak it all in. That was what Domecoming was all about — fans coming in one last time to catch the energy and magic that was The Astrodome. It was like nothing else ever seen in modern sports and it changed the way the world saw sports forever.
The Freak provides a freakish play: It’s amazing how long you can watch baseball and keep seeing things you’ve never seen before. The latest case in point: Last night Tim Lincecum, currently pitching in the minors for the Round Rock Express, had his glove fly off of his hand during a pitch on Monday night — and still ended up throwing a strike! Dig:
You might be wondering if that’s legal — after all, the airborne glove could distract the batter — but there’s no rule against it. Would’ve been interesting if the batter had hit a comebacker, or if Lincecum had needed to cover first base.
(Big thanks to Uni Watch alum Mike Chamernik for this one.)
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Too good for the Ticker: Our resident DIY genius, Wafflebored, posted this early-1960s Edmonton Flyers photo on Twitter yesterday. Hard to describe how much I love this one — the classic midcentury cloud shape of the crest, the little airplane zipping along above the letters (you have to view the full-size photo to see it clearly), the massively oversized captaincy designation and completely unnecessary front number. It’s an embarrassment of riches! Anyone want to take a crack at colorizing it? Here’s a team portrait that you can use as a color guide.
Here’s another shot, this time without the captain’s “C” (click to enlarge):
The Flyers had at least one other beauty of a jersey in their history — this one, from the mid-1950s:
You can get a repro of that one, as it happens, from Ebbets. But I think the early-1960s one is even better.
(My thanks to Mike Styczen, Chris Mizzoni, and Jeff Barak’s Third String Goalie site for their contributions to this section.)
Royally screwed: Someone really needs to tell the people at MLB and New Era that America was founded on the basis of a revolution that opposed the concept of a royal monarchy. First they ran an ad for Memorial Day caps that referred to veterans as “Kings,” and now they’ve come up with an ad for Mother’s Day caps that refers to “Royalty” (see above).
I probably shouldn’t be surprised, given that this is coming from people who don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but it’s still pretty sickening to see this marketing campaign that basically equates our holidays with everything our country supposedly opposes.
Can hardly wait for the Independence Day cap ads.
(My thanks to Phil for letting me know about this one.)
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Marlins 2B Starlin Castro must have left some bats in New York, because Yankees 3B Miguel Andújar was recently using a bat with Castro’s name (from Matt DeMazza). … Giants CF Andrew McCutchen showed off a pair of Hunter Pence socks on Twitter. Now, he needs to wear those puppies in a game (from Brinke). … The Reds used an Old English “C” on the mound last night (from Cole Flashenberg). … The Rochester Red Wings will dress up as the Rochester Hop Bitters on May 26 (from Ted Schwerzler). … The Dunedin Blue Jays are asking fans to help pick a specialty jersey that they’ll wear on the field later this year. … MLB has been cracking down on shoes in non-team colors. According to that article, players got away with it in April but were warned that fines would start being issued in May (from Phil). … This is interesting: The Padres have announced that they’ll be adding memorial patches for former GM Kevin Towers and former coach Rob Picciolo, but only on their late-1990s throwbacks, which they’ll be wearing six times, beginning this Saturday (from Phil). … The Mets and Reds, currently in the midst of a three-game series in Cincy, completed a trade yesterday, as P Matt Harvey went to the Reds in return for C Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco promptly got into last night’s game for the Mets but was still wearing his Reds batting gloves.
NFL News: The Jaguars posted a mini documentary about the design process of their new uniform set on their website (from Mike Chamernik). … New Pats CB Jason McCourty will go FIOB this season — will his teammate and brother Devin go FIOB as well? (From @AayCeeBeee.) … Meanwhile, here are the rest of the new uni numbers for the Pats’ draft class (from Jeff Israel). … Twitter had fun roasting Odell Beckham Jr. after his new personal logo leaked on Monday (also from Mike Chamernik). … Bleacher Report mocked up some potential NFL trades, and drew their new uniforms in either MS Paint or Snapchat — which I find oddly refreshing (from Gare Bear). … Weird to see the Atlanta “Hawks” on NFL Network (from Russell Goutierez). … Vince Lombardi’s “A Football Life” episodes offer rare glimpses of QB Bart Starr wearing Nos. 51 and 27 (from Shaun Meulemans). … Chris Tripucka, the son of former Bronco Frank Tripucka, made a replica of his father’s ring of honor sign for his porch (from @addieberube). … What if the Ravens started as an AFL franchise? Cool concept created by Sportslogos.net forum poster Oldschoolvikings. Honestly, slap that on a helmet and start using that now (from @RayBarrington).
College Football News: NC State has a new font that they’ll use across all athletic programs. … SB Nation has published a comprehensive guide to college coach fashion. Awesome stuff. … The University of Iowa is adding its Tigerhawk logo to a landmark water tower adjacent to Kinnick Stadium (from Kary Klismet).
Hockey News: Penguins G Matt Murray had a stick knob malfunction in Monday night’s playoff game (from The Goal Net). … The Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL have melted the ice at their arena after their season ended (from Mike Chamernik). … Looks like these are the crests that will appear on Arizona State’s practice uniforms next season (from JC Crawford).
Soccer News: Couple of jersey leaks from Josh Hinton: Man City’s 2018-19 home kit and Hamburg’s 2018-19 home kit. … New uniforms for FC Monmouth of the NPSL (from Ed Zelaski). … What if all MLS jersey advertisers were restaurant chains? This thread has a few concepts. … The Wolverhampton Wanderers will have their kits made by Adidas for the next four seasons (from Josh Hinton again).
Grab Bag: At least five more top executives are leaving Nike after an investigation into complaints of harassment and bias (NYT link). … A Houston gun designer made a Rockets-themed firearm for rapper Paul Wall (from Ignacio). … Boathouse Row Sports, a Philadelphia sporting goods company, has an interesting section on its website about their sublimation process (from Tim Wood). … Attention Chicago sports fans: The 1980 movie Ordinary People includes a shot of a bulletin board with two sports patches — Cubs and the WFL’s Chicago Fire (from Peter Fredrickson).