When the Astrodome first opened in 1965, many players were initially awed by the experience of playing baseball under a roof in an air-conditioned stadium. After three years of playing in hot and humid Colt Stadium, the Astrodome was truly a welcomed relief. One year later, Astroturf was introduced and the world of sports was never the same.
Nevertheless, the awe of opposing players would quickly turn to annoyance whenever an Astro hit a home run. That event would cue the Home Run Spectacular, an awesome, multi-colored, animated sequence stretching 474 feet across the center field wall. Even worse, it lasted almost 45 seconds, meaning that the opposing pitcher had to continue listening to the celebration long after the batter had crossed home and stepped into the dugout.
The Home Run Spectacular tormented opposing teams for over 20 years, but met its untimely demise at the hands of the greedy owner of the Houston Oilers, Bud Adams. Threatening to move Houston's football franchise out of state, Adams extorted the Astros ownership into removing the awesome scoreboard and replacing it with 10,000 additional seats.
With the construction of Enron Field, homage was paid to the original Spectacular with the introduction of a similar, abbreviated Home Run Spectacular. Although a far cry from the original, contemporary fans can still get a taste of what was truly the most extravagant display in the history of the game. Photos for both Home Run Spectaculars are below.
The Astrodome Home Run Spectacular
as described in a 1966 program
Listen to the Home Run Spectacular
Watch its farewell performance
Immediately after a hit is declared a home run, a lighted reproduction of the Astrodome appears on the left of the board. The roof of the lighted Astrodome then explodes, with sound effects amid flashing lights. Following this, a ball zooms out of the top of the stadium and travels across the top of the display area, from left to right, with exploding fireworks and skyrockets. As it completes its journey, a large baseball appears on the right, with the words "home run" on it, and more exploding fireworks are heard.
The second sequence in the extravaganza features two "celebrating" lighted cowboys, one entering from each side, firing guns into the air and down into the ground. The special lighting effects make the bullets appear to ricochet from the top and bottom of the display, completely filling the area between the two cowboys.
In the next sequence, two huge steerheads appear, snorting fire. Then, an American flag and a Texas flag sprout from the horns tips of each steer. Almost simultaneously, a mounted cowboy appears at the left side of the display, with lariat swinging. He attempts to rope a steer which has appeared on the right side of the display. As the cowboy and his horse "run" across the display, the cowboy's efforts come to an abrupt halt when he is pulled from his horse by getting his rope caught in the steer's horns.
The final sequence is a multi-color skyrocket display, complete with sound effects, covering the entire display area. Altogether, an unforgettably flamboyant Texas-type, exuberant home-run cheer that of course is only given for an Astro home run.
The Enron Field Home Run Spectacular
As photographed on July 5, 2001
The shooting cowboys.
Roping the steer.
The snorting, flag-waving bull.