I actually liked the hill in Houston. One of things that makes baseball so unique is that in all of team sports, baseball is the only one where the playing field is not the same in every ballpark. Boston has the Green Monster, the ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field in Chicago, fountains beyond the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Now that most of the “cookie cutter” stadiums of the past are thankfully no more, I love the little things that make each MLB stadium unique. Plus it was always fun to see a center fielder have to run up that hill to make a catch.
Astros plan to remove Tal’s Hill by moving in CF wall
In a move that will be welcome news to opposing center fielders, the Houston Astros are planning to remove Tal’s Hill before the 2016 season, reports astros.com. The Hill behind the warning track in Minute Maid Park with an in-play flag pole has been there since the stadium opened in 2000.
The removal of the hill — which has drawn a multitude of complaints over the years — will come by way of the fence being moved in. Via the report:
[Astros owner] Jim Crane said the center field fence, which currently sits 436 feet from home plate, would be brought in to about 409 or 410 feet. The extra space beyond the wall would be used for additional concessions and fan-friendly areas where spectators can watch the game.
The Astros will pay for the stadium alterations on their own, the report indicates.
In moving the fences in and eliminating the hill, the Astros are removing a unique quirk of their ballpark, but it’s also an injury risk and no other field has a flag pole in play like that — not to mention that 436 feet on top of a hill in center is pretty deep, too. As Crain noted, in the report, 410 feet is by no means a short porch in center.
In spite of the negatives, the hill has many supporters as well. After all, MLB ballparks aren’t all the same and many have unique on-field features.