The "Eighth Wonder of the World" opened to great fanfare in 1965 -- a symbol that man could build buildings which would allow baseball to be played in the syrupy humid, regularly raining, and stultifying hot climate that is Houston, Texas, by creating an indoor stadium that is air conditioned, dehumidified (somewhat), and, eventually, employed fake grass (since real grass would not grow in the Dome).
The Dome was a trendsetter. Within 15 years, circular multipurpose domes popped up in Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. The Dome was also the first to feature an animated scoreboard -- a feature which sounds quaint in today's "largest HD screen on the face of the planet" systems such as the one in Jacksonville's EverBank Field.
This year -- specifically, April 9 -- marks the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome's opening. Despite being closed for building code violations in 2008 by the City of Houston, no one knows quite what to do with the building.
Voters in Houston in 2013 turned down a bond referendum that would have provided money enough to turn the Astrodome into a multipurpose entertainment facility. Yet, neither implosion nor demolition appear to be in the cards, as even that option would cost a significant amount of money. Noted land use think-tank The Urban Land Institute yesterday released its report that made several recommendations regarding the Astrodome's future. It does not sound much different than previous recommendations, which means it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement.
Still, it's worth saving in many people's eyes. Indeed, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added the Astrodome to its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2013. Rest assured, something will be done with the Dome soon -- the adjacent "NRG Stadium," the corporate-sponsored home of the Houston Texans that sits right next door to the Astrodome, is scheduled to host the 51st Super Bowl in 2017. The City of Houston does not want a derelict hulk next door.
But what will be done? What should be done?
In the spirit of revitalization -- and to end what might be my most labored introduction to a trade post ever -- I received a great bunch of cards from Bru, the man responsible for putting me on the National Trust for Historic Preservation website, for his excellent blog, Remember the Astrodome. Nearly a month ago now, I received an incredible package of cards from Bru with the following note:
Houston's loss of a card shop turned into a MAJOR gain for me. How major? Let's start with the recent cards -- which, to be fair, were certainly the lesser lights in this package.
The Segura is just a regular Topps Heritage card -- one I did not have, of course, but just a base card. The Lohse is the Blue serial numbered Opening Day Parallel from last year. Again, another card I did not have.
I've told on myself sometimes in the past that, as a little kid in the late 1970s, my cards were toys and not "save the card good condition money money money value worth something some day" as cards became later. So, a lot of my cards from as late as 1982 had some wear and tear that necessitates some upgrades.
So, Bru helped there too. A couple of 1982 Donruss cards to help upgrade a Hall of Famer and add the Brewers' first Diamond King to my team collection:
Gorman was all about those homers. And, let's be fair -- in 1982, Dick Perez still had his fastball in terms of his drawing ability. He scribbled those suckers out as time passed, and the players started looking more like the Panini Triple Play stickers from 2012 than like themselves. But 1982 -- even though it was just the start -- were some of the best.
Bru also upgraded a ton of 1979 cards for me:
Not a bad haul at-- wait, there's more?
Oh yes, there is more. A second year card of Hall of Famer Paul Molitor. At some point in the near future, I am going to feel the need to look into the incessant position shifting that the Brewers seem to enjoy putting their best players through, but note for now that Molitor came up as a shortstop.
Bru also sent a card from 1975 that I needed to complete my team set from Topps Regular Sized from that year:
Where's that kid who drew the beards on the rookie pitchers to fix this card? There's all kinds of weird going on here. Gorman Thomas being clean shaven. Gorman Thomas wearing #44 -- and yes, he wore it just before Hank Aaron joined the team. Thomas then switched to #3 -- visible on his 1977 card -- before switching to his later trademark #20.
In many trade packages either the 1979 Molitor or the 1975 Thomas would be the piece de resistance. But not when we are talking about remembering an iconic building such as the Astrodome. Oh no.
Remember, Paul Molitor came up as a Shortstop. So did Alan Trammell and the very aptly named Mickey Klutts and the for-once toothpick-less U.L. Washington.
When I laid eyes on this card -- the last one I needed for my 1978 Topps Brewers team set -- I was blown away. The card I have in my Molitor PC is the same one I have had since 1978, and it was always a cherished card because of that fact. From the earliest date that I had real 9-pocket sheets -- sideloaders, in fact -- that Molitor card was always in the sheets.
And now, thanks to Bru, I have two.
Bru, thank you for the great package of cards and for the excuse to dig into things like urban preservation issues!