Monday, July 25 – Yankees 2, Astros 1
I saw some Houston Colt 45s games during their 1962 inaugural season, but those were in San Francisco. In 1965, the team moved to the new Astrodome, Major League Baseball’s first indoor stadium, and changed its name to the Astros. I never saw a game at the Astrodome, so I had to be satisfied with its nicer, though less historic, successor.
Access: After a day of sightseeing, I drove to Minute Maid Park on the edge of downtown Houston. Each block I got farther from the park, the price for parking dropped $5. I wound up three blocks away for $15. Fair enough. The exit for a few blocks along some jammed streets was fairly slow.
Seats/pricing: Extend the first base line through the plate and up to the second deck, and there I was for $45.
View: The roof was closed on this night, but through the many windows behind left field, you could see some of the Houston skyline.
Food: This is Nolan Ryan country. Nolan Ryan has a plaque outside the park. Nolan Ryan has a ranch. So, it was no surprise to see Nolan Ryan Beef featured at two food spots. I opted for the steak fingers at Texas Legends Grill. I envisioned some strips of round steak or other mid-level cut, probably breaded. Nope. It probably was low-end steak before it went through a grinder, but it came out as a formed shape. The taste was okay, but the quality of the meal sure didn’t compare to a Nolan Ryan fast ball.
Beer: I spotted regular draft for $8.75, a regular can for $11.25, and a premium can for $12.25. Pretty pricey.
Crowd: 30,628. After Take Me Out to the Ball Game, the crowd joined in for a rousing Deep in the Heart of Texas. Many parks have kiss-cam, dance-cam, and other between-innings variants, but I’d never seen mirror-cam before coming to Minute Maid.
Neighborhood: Bars and restaurants are along streets to the north of the park.
Arts and visuals: Statutes of Craig Biggio throwing to Jeff Bagwell highlight an outdoor plaza that also includes plaques in honor of Astros’ stars and championships. Inside, an old steam engine rolls back and forth above the left field wall.
Baseball Moment: The Astros called up highly touted Alex Bregman to make his major league debut at third base, and he got a very warm welcome. Alas, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. George Springer hit a leadoff homer, but that was it for the Astros’ offense. Austin Romine’s double in the eighth plated the winning run. Andrew Miller, who’d just inherited the closer’s role from traded Aroldis Chapman, did the job for the Yankees in the ninth.