Minute Maid Park
Formerly Enron Field. The ballpark was Houston's first retractable-roofed stadium,
protecting fans and athletes from Houston's notoriously humid weather like its
predecessor, the Astrodome, but allowing fans to also enjoy outdoor baseball,
something they couldn't enjoy in the Astrodome. It also features a grass field,
compared to the Astrodome's AstroTurf, which was generally disliked by professional
baseball players. Its largest entrance is inside what was once Houston's Union Station,
and the left-field side of the stadium features a train as homage to the site's history.
The train moves along a track on top of the length of the exterior wall beyond left field
whenever an Astros player hits a home run, or when the Astros win a game (the
engine's tender, traditionally used to carry coal, is filled with giant oranges in tribute to
Minute Maid's most famous product, orange juice).
The stadium is known for being particularly hitter-friendly down the lines, especially in
left field where it is only 315 ft (96 m) to the Crawford Boxes, though the wall there is 19
feet (5.8 m) tall. In a challenge to home run hitters, Drayton McLane's office windows,
located in the old Union Station and directly above the Crawford Boxes, are made of
glass and marked as 442 ft (135 m) from home plate. In contrast to the ease of hitting
a home run to the Crawford Boxes, it is quite difficult to hit a ball out in center field.
Fielding is a challenge there as well, due to the 30-degree steep up-sloped grade,
known as Tal's Hill, for team president Tal Smith, an element taken from Crosley Field
and other historic ballparks (in a bit of gallows humor, the hill is also known as the
"Grassy Knoll"), and the flagpole in play, an element taken from Yankee Stadium and
Tiger Stadium among others. The difference is that the Crosley Field "terrace", which
was half as steep at 15-degrees, was necessitated by the difference in elevation
between field level and street level, while Tal's Hill is purely decorative. Both structures
have been held in equal disdain by the respective outfielders that have had to patrol
The visiting team's bullpen is housed entirely in the exterior left field wall, next to the
Crawford Boxes, making it one of the few bullpens in Major League ballparks to be
completely indoors. Although windows in the outfield fence offer a view into and from
the bullpen, its entrance is actually built into the side of the Crawford Boxes.
In 2006, the Chick-fil-A cows were unveiled on the foul poles, saying EAT MORE
FOWL, and the cows have Astros caps on. Anytime a player hits the pole, the fans in
attendance get a free meal from Chick-Fil-A.
|Enron Field's Homerun Porch. Pretty cool feature, but the
owners want it to be called the Conoco HR Porch. The Astros'
owners are trying to squeeze every penny they can get out of this
stadium with corporate sponsorships.