Tal’s Hill is perhaps the most unique feature on any field in the MLB. A sharp incline just beyond the center field warning track, the Hill provides an extra challenge for hitters and center fielders a like. It's perhaps the thing people think of most when they think of Minute Maid Park.
Unfortunately, Tal's Hill has seen its final days. The early stages of its removal began Monday, and the center field fence is being moved in, to a more standard distance of 406 feet.
As tribute, let's look back on the 6 greatest moments Tal's Hill has given us:
1. May 26, 2000
When you think Jeff Bagwell, inside the park home runs aren’t exactly what comes to mind. But with Tal's hill in play you can’t dismiss anything, and when Bagwell launches a fly deep to center the impossible happens. Andruw Jones usually makes this catch, but once the Hill comes into play it's all over. Bagwell manages to make it all the way to third, and a throwing error allows him reach home.
The very next at-bat, Ken Caminiti hits a ball to the exact same spot. Jones had learned his lesson and would not be fooled again.
2. May 18, 2002
It amazes me that a player nicknamed “Fat Elvis” was our starting center fielder at one point. He’s not the quickest out there, and the route he takes to the ball is incredibly awkward, but he manages to haul this one in for an unbelievable catch.
3. June 11, 2009
Its one thing to catch a ball while running up Tal’s Hill, it's another to catch one while laying on it. Bourn falls flat on his back and still manages to come up with this one.
4. June 18, 2013
Further proof that Gomez is better in literally every aspect of the game when he's not playing for the Astros. What a display of athleticism— goes up the hill without breaking stride and brings it in while falling to the ground. The Astros fans applauded the catch, and they were right to do so.
5. May 2, 2015
Jake Marisnick also got into the action on Tal’s Hill, laying out to rob Logan Morrison of this potential extra-base hit. McHugh’s reaction is also pretty classic.
6. May 13, 2011
This is not only the greatest moment in Tal’s Hill history, but might be the greatest moment in the history of the Astros franchise. The Great Escape is something that will never happen again in the history of sports. How often have you seen a fan run onto the field and actually get away with it? Never. This is literally the only time it has or ever will happen. The guy hops the fence, gets cornered, scales a ledge, then jumps into the walkway. There are exits literally all over that walkway, so there is no doubting this dude escapes. Just an unbelievable feat by a determined fan.