Call it unimaginable. Call it unfathomable. Call it blasphemy. Whatever you call it, there is no doubt about it: Minute Maid Park would never be the same without Tal’s Hill in center field.
Regardless of how far fetched it may sounds that to remove the park’s single-most recognizable landmark, that is exactly what the Houston Astros are considering doing during the 2015-2016 offseason, according to Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle.
Tal’s Hill is the name for the small hill in center field where the flagpole is planted, just inside the center field wall. The on-field mogul is named after former Astros team president Tal Smith, who originally proposed the hill when the park was being designed in 1996. The original thought was to pay tribute to the former Crosley Field, whereas the flagpole on the field is a nod to the old Yankee Stadium and Tiger Stadium.
Call to the Pen
Since Minute Maid Park opened for the 2000 season (then as The Ballpark at Union Station), Tal’s Hill has been an oddity in baseball, both making for some dazzling grabs while also irritating outfielders forced to climb the 30 degree incline while chasing down a fly ball. Since then, it has been the cause for debate among those that appreciate its quirkiness and those who feel it doesn’t belong on a baseball field.
Now, it seems the Astros are caving, at least a little bit, as team president of baseball operations Reid Ryan.
"“People talk about Tal’s Hill. ‘Is Tal’s Hill going away?’ We’re going to look at designs of, ‘What would that look like if we took it away?’”"
What it will look like “if they took it away” may be interesting, but it will also change one of the most original qualities of any ballpark in the league. It would certainly take some getting used to, as least for fans.
Not to mention what it’ll do for the name of our site!