Like it or not, wherever your favorite team plays is an integral part of the game experience. From unique dimensions, playing surfaces and the elements, these things can all add or detract from the overall experience. With the birth of so many new venues over the last 25 years, the fan experience has been dramatically improved. For the most part the previous generation of stadiums lacked ingenuity or any sort of bling and at the bare minimum left something to be desired for the fans. The only fun part of them was the nicknames that were bestowed to several of them such as concrete doughnut and my personal favorite…..the Toilet. There was one stadium that stood out among all of these circular disappointments and stood above all the rest, The Houston Astrodome. Its amenities were well ahead of the times and served the fans of Houston well for several decades. Now there is a book that celebrates the creation of the iconic stadium and shows all the work that went into building the eighth wonder of the world.
I have always looked at the Astrodome as a baseball stadium. Never giving much thought to the other uses for this multi-purpose marvel. First, this book takes a look at the political wrangling that it took for the city of Houston to procure a Major League team as well as some of the promises it was required to make as part of that deal. It shows the tireless efforts of several key figures in Houston and the many failed previous efforts of the town. It paints a vivid picture of how much time and effort goes in to just getting a promise of a team.
The book also goes into great detail about the political obstacles the new stadium faced in Houston as well as all the engineering hurdles that had to be cleared to create something of this magnitude. It goes into great depth to explain how the stadium was physically built to withstand the elements and how it has been able to withstand the test of time. The authors also show the readers all of the unique attributes that were built into the stadium and you can see how forward thinking those involved with its construction truly were.
The book also addresses the many uses the Astrodome had. From concerts, rodeos, football and countless other uses, it really lent itself to being a jack of all trades. Like all stadiums of this era, it was a living, breathing and evolving building and changed with the needs of the times. Finally, it does take a harsh look at the aging of the dome and how it fell victim of the current times. In the end, the once grand palace of baseball became just another decrepit old stadium. A stadium that no one is sure what to do with and probably at some point, like all the one time greats, will meet its demise.
The book is very comprehensive and shows those not living in Texas what the Astrodome was truly about. It also gives a nice glimpse at Texas politics and how that works as well as the way the people of Houston have helped change their self image with the help of the dome.
While this is not a baseball only book, it still has a large chunk of Colt 45’s/Astros information. If you have interest in old stadiums this book covers it from its beginnings to its possible near end. It has lots of information readers will find informative and entertaining, If like me, you were never lucky enough to visit the Astrodome, this book will surely make you wish you had.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
Reading baseball books can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get the inside story of what really happened. On the other, you see that our baseball heroes are human too. For me growing up in Philly, Glenn Wilson was one of those heroes. I spent many summer days at the Vet watching Glenbo roaming the outfield. He also ties into one special childhood memory I have. It was early in the 1985 season and it was Tastykake team player card giveaway day. I remember sitting in the outfield stands watching Glenn play with grace. It took some convincing to get my Dad to go to the game, and my Grandfather came along as well. It was the only time the three of us ever went to a game together, and for no particular reason Glenn Wilson always stuck out in my mind from that day. For that reason alone, I was pretty exited to jump into this book.
When you are a kid you think your favorite players have to be good guys. How else could they be? I mean really you think they are awesome so why wouldn’t they be. But sometimes reality does not quite live up to expectations and that happens here. Glenn Wilson flat-out admits during his baseball career that he was somewhat of a jerk. He admits he might not have appreciated the talent he was given and felt he was owed something. That right off the bat has to be hard for anyone to admit, I know I couldn’t do it. So now that my childhood reality was shattered I jumped further into this book and found it to be very interesting.
Glenbo reviews his years of growing up and making it to the majors. He talks about some of his family and how they helped him along the way. He also talks about his time with the Tigers and his disappointment in being traded to the Phillies. Struggles in Philadelphia are talked about along with some other issues in other cities along his journey. He takes the time to be honest with the reader and not try to sugar coat any of his behavior. If he was a jerk about something he freely admitted it.
His struggles after leaving baseball was something I never heard about before, and to Glenn’s credit he is very honest with himself and the reader. As a reader I appreciate it when the player is honest with me. It adds loads of credibility to his story instead of just writing a book for a money grab. The bottom line of this story is that after baseball and some personal issues Glenn was a broken man. What happens next is something that I found most interesting.
Glenn turns to his faith and trusted in God and that faith helped him transform his life. I will not go in to great details here of the way God has helped Glenn transform his life and become a better person. You will have to read the book to get that story, but quite honestly it is a very remarkable story. I sometimes shy away from books that have a religious aspect to them, because they don’t always come off as genuine and that to me is the ultimate disrespect. That being said, this story is absolutely amazing and the effect it has had on Glenn Wilson’s life has been remarkable.
If you are a fan of Glenn Wilson’s this is a really good book and worth reading. He is brutally honest about his life and himself, on and off the field. This book is also a good read if you are having troubles in your own life, because it shows the strength you are able to find by turning to God.
Now if only someday I can get my Tastykake photo signed to complete my childhood dream!
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lucid Books