Five Greatest Houston Astros Moments in Astrodome History
More than a decade after the last Major League Baseball game was played in the Astrodome, the "Eighth Wonder of the World" still elicits memories from countless Astros fans who found their way to Houston's groundbreaking stadium.
The 'Dome never hosted a World Series, but it was the site of two All-Star Games, two emotionally draining National League Championship Series, and a cavalcade of remarkable pitching performances.
From the exploding scoreboard to the cavernous dimensions that made many mighty clouts into routine outs, the place the Astros called home for 35 seasons will be forever etched into baseball lore.
From the golden voice of Gene Elston, the "Holy Toledo!" of Milo Hamilton and the incomparable writing of the late Neil Hohlfeld, the great moments in the Astrodome will be treasured forever.
This list will attempt to add another diamond in a treasure chest filled with gems.
5. Up All Night (June 3-4, 1989)
A Saturday night date against the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers began with 34,425 fans. Few were in the Dome when it ended.
Down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Astros teed off on reliever Tim Crews as Ken Caminiti laced a two-run single that was followed by an RBI single from Rafael Ramirez, tying up matters at 4-all.
From there, the game kept going.....
until Ramirez ended the contest with a base hit off of Dodgers 3B Jeff Hamilton that scored Bill Doran to end the longest game in Astros history. The 22-inning affair took 7:14 and a combined 635 pitches to complete.
Los Angeles had little choice but to use Hamilton after using up the rest of their pitching staff. Hamilton pitched 1.2 innings and struck out a pair of batters, this after starting the game at the hot corner.
Staunch Astros fans may remember that the two teams played a Sunday afternoon game that went 13 innings before P Mike Scott (who opened the top of the inning in a relief role) won the game for Houston with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame that gave the Astros a 7-6 win.
4. A Gathering of Greats (July 9, 1968)
In the Year of the Pitcher, the ultimate pitcher's park played host to an All-Star game that featured 16 future Hall of Famers.
It was only appropriate that the 48.321 fans that filled the Astrodome saw one of the best displays of pitching in All-Star annals, as the two teams combined for just eight hits while the likes of Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant and Denny McClain combined for 20 strikeouts.
The game's only run came in the bottom of the first when NL leadoff hitter Willie Mays singled, reached second on a throwing error by Tiant and moved to third on wild pitch. A double-play grounder off the bat of Willie McCovey plated the Say Hey Kid, thus concluding the offensive fireworks of the day.
The Astrodome also hosted the 1986 All-Star game, with the American League pulling out a 3-2 win behind home runs from Detroit's Lou Whitaker and Kansas City's Frank White.
3. No-No-No-No-Nolan (Sept. 26, 1981)
Nolan Ryan was capable of throwing a no-hitter every time he took the hill. Having tossed four no-nos for the California Angels, the pride of Alvin, Texas got the start against the Los Angles Dodgers on a late September Saturday afternoon and gave a national television audience (along with the 32,115 fans in attendance) a classic Ryan performance.
The Dodgers were stuck on the train tracks and had no way to avoid the Ryan Express, which fanned 11 batters and allowed just three walks. With each out, those viewing began to sense they would be a part of history.
They would be, as (2:46 after the Express left the station) Dusty Baker's meek groundout to Art Howe locked up Ryan's record-setting fifth no-hitter in a 5-0 win, giving Ryan his 10th victory of the season.
It would be another nine seasons before Ryan tossed another no-hitter. Unfortunately for Astros fans, he was donning a Texas Rangers uniform after Houston let him walk as a free agent after the 1988 season.
2. Great Scott! (Sept. 25, 1986)
With a Magic Number of two, the red-hot Astros could clinch the franchise's second National League West crown over the visiting San Francisco Giants.
Ace Mike Scott, in the midst of a career year, would get the start for Houston as a boisterous crowd of 32,808 turned the Astrodome into a rock concert.
If it was a concert, then Scott was the headline act who stood up and delivered his greatest performance.
After opening the first two innings by hitting Dan Gladden with a pitch and walking Chili Davis, Scott began to settle down.
From the third inning on, the Giants managed just one baserunner as Scott's devastating split-fingered fastball found its mark with deadly precision.
The Astros ace needed only two runs to bolster his masterpiece, one in which he used strikeouts of Gladden and Robby Thompson to begin the ninth before putting the finishing touches of his work of art by enducing Will Clark to ground out to first baseman Glenn Davis.
The game marked the first (and only) time a team clinched a postseason berth by tossing a no-hitter.
Scott's performance also sewed up the National League Cy Young for the righty, who won 18 games and struck out 306 batters that magical season.
1. Dawn of a New Era (April 9, 1965)
Three years and $35 million later, the vision of Roy Hofheinz became a reality as the world's first indoor stadium opened its doors for an exhibition between the Astros and the defending American League champion New York Yankees.
Mickey Mantle had the honor of hitting the first home run at the state-of-the-art stadium, but the hometown fans left pleased as the Astros (who changed their names from the Colt .45s) pulled out a 2-1 victory.
When Houston played its first regular season game at the 'Dome, it was Philadelphia Phillies slugger Dick Allen who hit the first blast that counted, providing all the offense they would need in a 2-0 win.
Eighteen stories tall, the Astrodome used natural grass during the 1965 season before going to ChemGrass (later known as AstroTurf) the following year.
Along with its space-age like surface, the 'Dome became known as the most friendly bastion for pitchers.
With the outfield corners a hefty 340 feet and a 406-foot stop in center, the dimensions left home runs to be hit by only the strongest in the game.
Houston closed the door on the Astrodome as a baseball facility after losing 7-5 to the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the 1999 National League Division Series.
Ken Caminiti had the distinction of hitting the final home run in the stadium, a three-run shot off of John Smoltz in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Caminiti also made the last out in the 'Dome when his liner off of John Rocker landed into the glove of Andruw Jones.