The Only “Rain Out” in Astrodome History

Three Astros Who Were There for the 1976 Astrodome Rainout: Centerfilder Cesar Cedeno, General Manager Tal Smith, and Third Baseman Enos Cabell. (Photo by Bill McCurdy, 2007.)

Three Astros Who Were There for the 1976 Astrodome Rainout: (L>R) Centerfilder Cesar Cedeno, General Manager Tal Smith, and Third Baseman Enos Cabell.                         (Photo by Bill McCurdy, 2007.)

Seems like yesterday, but it was now long ago, way back on Tuesday,  June 15,1976. Unrelenting hard rain came up in the Houston summer afternoon and just flooded the streets around town, generating special traffic problems in the area four miles south of downtown and the even nearer Texas Medical Center located just north of the Astrodome. Cars were flooding out and the rains were still falling as darkness descended. Fans, Astrodome employees, and game officials were not gong to be able to reach the ballpark safely, if at all, for the scheduled evening game between the Houston Astros and the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, even though the players were already there. They arrived prior to the deluge that was about to descend, but nobody wanted to play a game in front of the only twenty or so hard-core fans who somehow managed to reach the Astrodome in spite of all the weather obstacles. We think they may have all been U.S. mail men.

The game had to be cancelled due to rain, the first and only time that ever happened for reasons weather in the history of the Astrodome, and here’s how the Associated Press handled the story on Wednesday, June 16, 1976:

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Astros and Pirates at their exclusive Astrodome infield dining room on the evening of July 15, 1976.

Astros and Pirates at their exclusive Astrodome infield dining room on the evening of July 15, 1976.

Astros Dine at Dome Rain In

Houston (AP) – There used to be a baseball saying that went like this: You win some, you lose some, and some are rained out – except in the Astrodome.

They can’t say that any more.

Torrential rains – more than seven inches – flooded streets around the Astrodome Tuesday night – forcing postponement of the scheduled game between the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the first postponement of a sporting event because of weather in the Astrodome’s 11-year history and only the second postponement for any reason.

The Astros and Pirates were on hand when the deluge flooded the streets and freeway around the Astrodome, preventing fans, employees, and even umpires from arriving at the stadium.

Since the players had nothing better to do after the game was called, the participated in a sitdown dinner on the infield.

“It wasn’t exactly a rain-out – it was a rain-in,” an Astrodome spokesman said. “We were bone dry inside. The Pirates and Astros put up banquet tables on the infield and sat down to dinner.”

Astros General Manager Tal Smith said the primary reason for the postponement was the safety of fans and employees.

“We could have played the game,” Smith said. “But if we had announced it was on, we would have become stranded. We just felt it best to postpone it.”

Smith said the umpires scheduled to work the game tried to drive to the stadium, but their car stalled in high water. They had to wade back to their hotel.

An Astrodome official said, “Probably less than 20 fans made it – just a handful of real diehards.”

He said those who did were treated to a dinner at the Astrodome cafeteria.

Players, who were seated up and ready to play when the game was postponed, arrived three or four hours before game time, thereby avoiding much of the water build up.

It was the second time a game has not been played on schedule in the Astrodome, but the first weather postponed event.

An April 7, 1968, exhibition game between the Astros and Minnesota Twins was cancelled because of a day of mourning for the Rev. Martin Luther King, who was assassinated three days earlier.

Because of it’s all weather features, Monday night games in the Astrodome are usually designated the television back up games.

Tuesday’s postponement came a little more than a year after a five-inch downpour delayed the start of a game between the Astros and the Chicago Cubs (on) June 9, 1975. That game was delayed 54 minutes because players as well as fans were late arriving.

Astrodome officials said Tuesday’s postponed game will be rescheduled at a later date in August.

~ Associated Press, Freeport Brazosport Facts, Wednesday, June 16, 1976, Page 6

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One Response to “The Only “Rain Out” in Astrodome History”

  1. Shirley Virdon Says:

    I remember it well! My daughter and I were stranded in our car on top of the Interstate at the Kirby exit to Dome. I sat in the car for 5 1/2 hours waiting for the rain to subside and the water to go away so I could get off the Freeway! Our daughter waded over to the Dome and, finally, after dark , Bill and Lisa waded back to me(I was afraid to leave the car on top of the Freeway)! By this time the water was beginning to subside and we were able to drive on home! One event we will always remember——I think we had 12 inches of rain that day!

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