As the saying goes, everything's bigger in Texas. One would have to look further than Minute Maid Park to know that fact was true. Big roof. Big air-conditioning. Big video screens. And of course, a big hill in center field.
That hill was called Tal’s Hill. On Wednesday in a meaningless game between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park said goodbye to arguably the biggest defining factor of Minute Maid Park, a hill and a flag pole in the field of play.
The hill was the idea of then team president Tal Smith, who wanted to implement elements of classic ballparks like Crosley Field. It became one of the most bizarre sections of a ballpark in Major League Baseball featuring a massive center field measuring 436 feet deep, a hill with a 15-degree incline, and flag pole in the field of play.
The hill never made a major impact in an important game to change the outcome in a meaningful way. Instead, it was a highlight or lowlight machine, creating masterful web gems as players caught flyball fell on the hill and bloopers as players hit the hill at full speed to only tumble over.
The Astros had special bases made to commemorate the final game and allowed fans to take pictures in front of the hill.
Today is the final regular season game with Tal's Hill at Minute Maid Park. Our bases feature a special farewell. pic.twitter.com/fYDtdKvmoV— Mike Acosta (@AstrosTalk) September 28, 2016
It was very nice to have Tal Smith out on Tal's Hill after today's game. He has seen the Astros franchise from the inception. pic.twitter.com/gp8fs03Juf— Mike Acosta (@AstrosTalk) September 29, 2016
But let us remember Tal’s Hill properly with the highlights and lowlights from its time at Minute Maid Park: