Tal’s Hill functions as Minute Maid Park’s designated artificial quirk, but there’s good news for center fielders everywhere: the slope should be gone by next season. The team announced today that it has received approval from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority to get rid of the hill (and some in-play flag poles) in a $15-million renovation planned after the 2015 season.
Owner Jim Crane told MLB’s Brian McTaggart that the Astros plan to move the center-field fence closer to home plate in order to build more space for fans:
“As you know, Tal’s Hill, some people love it, some people hate it,” Crane said. “We just thought it would be a better ballpark by moving that in. I think the distance will be 409 or 410, so it will still be a very deep center field. There’s always been concern with the flag poles in play and danger in that and also the injuries going up the Hill, so we think this would be better for the players, utilize the space better and be a very pretty ballpark.”
Expect this to benefit the Astros lineup, which currently is tied for the MLB lead in home runs and has more than a few guys who are good at clearing the fence but not so good at legging out balls in the gaps.
MLB has quite a few videos of outfielders climbing up Tal’s Hill while tracking fly balls, for those who want to revisit some memories. Here’s Carlos Beltran in 2007, for one:
At least Minute Maid Park will still have that little train.
All images via Getty
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