Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has a story up in which Astros president Reid Ryan talks about renovations and upgrades to Minute Maid Park. One of the things which could possibly be changed? That weird feature in center field called “Tal’s Hill”:
“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?’”
Tal’s Hill is an incline in center field that can wreak havoc on outfielders, although balls are rarely hit far enough to reach the hill. A flag pole is also situated on the hill, on the playing field — an oddity in baseball.
It’s one of those oddities, the likes of which several teams that built ballparks from the early 90s on through the mid-2000s forced on everyone. “Quirks” to make the place seem unique but which in no way were organic. Dumb overhangs. Friezes. There’s a reason why Fenway Park has odd dimensions and the Green Monster. They literally did not have the land to build the park in a different way. That “quirk” was basically required and, only over time, became historic and significant. Most of the newer parks tried to manufacture their own instant history and most examples of it are silly. Tal’s Hill probably being the silliest.
We’ve mostly gotten out of that retro-era. The parks of the past few years like Nats Park and the park in Miami may or may not be to everyone’s tastes, but at least they’re not trying to ape history. Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.