Groundbreaking for the Astrodome

The Astrodome under construction in 1963. Photo courtesy of the Harris County Digital Archive

On January 3, 1962, ground was broken to begin construction of the Harris County Domed Stadium, later called the Houston Astrodome. The “Eighth Wonder of the World” opened three years later on Opening Day.

Unfortunately, today the Astrodome remains empty nearly 10 years after being closed because of code violations.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation continues to work with Harris County, TX, to find alternative uses for this historic stadium.

~ baseballrebecca

Plans for the Harris County Domed Stadium. Image courtesy of Harris County Archives via



How Many Games Have You Been To?

Oakland Coliseum, ca. 2015. Photo by redlegsfan21 via Wikipedia

So, how many games have you been to this season? Generally, by this time, I’ve been to at least a few. So far, however, its only been one. Of course, that didn’t stop me from simultaneously watching three on TV on Saturday. But, still. I feel like I need to improve my game.

With so much going on last week with Jackie Robinson Day, I never had time to share my thoughts on my first baseball adventure of the season – the Norfolk Tides at the Charlotte Knights. I’ll be posting more on that when I have time to think a little more sociologically about it. So watch this space!

This week I have plans to see games in California and New Hampshire. Comparing games from one community to another on different sides of the country is right up the alley for this Baseball Sociologist. So, stay tuned for updates on the Travels of the Baseball Sociologist!

In the meantime – feel free to share your baseball adventures so far this season in the comments section below!

~ baseballrebecca


Stadiums: Visual Baseball Sociology

The Astrodome, Houston, TXIf a picture is worth a thousand words, then these photographs of baseball stadiums tell us a lot about changes to the game, the impact of baseball on the community, and the social context and historical time in which the game is played.  This is the point of visual sociology, a field that uses visual images to study culture and society.

Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJHow do these pictures make you feel?  What do they say about the cities they depict?  (Hint: If they give you goosebumps or the chills or make you feel good inside, you are likely a baseball fan.)  For me, seeing where baseball was once played, where Jackie Robinson made his debut, and how the game fits into the local landscape, tells me a lot about the game, the fans, and the players.  It makes me feel that I am part of a tradition, linked with the past, present, and future of baseball.

So take a few minutes to look at some old baseball pics – they tell a thousand stories.  What do they tell you?

~ baseballrebecca

Washington Nationals Stadium Ballpark
Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, opened in 2008.

Finally Over .500

Minute Maid ParkLast night I reached a major milestone.  I have now seen a game at 16 Major League Baseball stadiums – meaning I’m more than halfway toward reaching my goal of seeing a game at every MLB ballpark. My most recent accomplishment:  seeing a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  All I need now are the ballparks of the Yankees, Mets, Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Giants, and Padres.

Of course, if they’d stop building new stadiums, my record would be at 18.  But San Francisco and Seattle decided to build new stadiums after I’d already been there.  In fact, my record is actually better than would appear, since I’ve seen games at other stadiums that no longer exist, such as my beloved Memorial Stadium and Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  Fortunately, a few old stadiums are still standing, so I have been able to at least see the Astrodome and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, though, sadly, I will never see games played at those stadiums.

When I mention my goal to see every MLB ballpark, some people look at me oddly, or say, “well, that’s a different kind of goal.”  I do have other goals. But I have to admit this one is probably a little realistic for me than the others, like saving the world or losing 30 pounds.   Sometimes you just have to go with what you’re good at.

~ baseballrebecca

The Ghosts of Stadiums Past

I woke up this morning at 8 a.m. to the soothing sounds of new shingles being nailed onto my roof (seriously, guys, on a Saturday?). Every building in my neighborhood is being re-shingled this year since they are all close to 15 years old. This, of course, made me think about baseball.

Cal and Bill Ripken at Memorial Stadium, 1989Ballparks, to be exact. Sure, everyone loves a shiny new ballpark, but what happens to the ballparks that were once near and dear to our hearts? Why do some survive the ages, while others are refurbished, and yet others are unceremoniously blown to pieces? Is it really just about money and winning, or is there more to it? Unfortunately, The Baseball Sociologist does not have a handy answer for this one. (I’d do some research, but, as I mentioned before, the roofer guys kind of woke me up too early.)

However, as a sociologist, I have noticed that baseball fans have a great appreciation of history. Some of our stadiums may be gone, but they are not forgotten. I know I am not the only one out there who has made a pilgrimage to an old ball park, nor am I the only one who mourns the passing of a beloved stadium. Is this phenomenon unique only to baseball, or the United States? Maybe, maybe not.

~ baseballrebecca