I had a really busy afternoon and can’t muster the strength to say too much right now. I did come across this today, though, and I didn’t notice right away that Jess Neely was the subject of the photo.
As you’ve no doubt surmised, I was more interested in the sprinklers. The playing field in the new stadium was originally grass and it remained grass for twenty years, at which point Brown and Root tore it out and put in that newfangled artificial turf. Back in 1950, building the playing surface came pretty near the end of the construction process. I happen to have some photos of it being built right here in my back pocket so I can give you something else to look at tonight. The dirt that you see being put down here was scraped out in 1970 in preparation for the new field and spread around other sites on campus. It’s probably still with us, which I find comforting.
One other thing: I once stood on that artificial turf while shooting a video and it was the hottest thing I’ve ever touched that wasn’t on fire. I actually felt like my shoes were going to melt.
The playing field is about thirty feet below grade. The dirt that was excavated was used to build the hillside seating at Miller Theater in Hermann Park, at the time reputedly the only hill in Houston.
During MOB rehearsal on Saturday morning, the turf read as high as 124˚F on the green parts and about 5˚ warmer on the blue parts.
It was partly cloudy. Air temperature was about 90˚F.
The turf is an odd substance, thermally – with the black rubber beads under the green stuff capable of soaking up a lot of heat. At the same time, it doesn’t conduct the heat away very well.
For comparison, I measured the temperature of the asphalt in the West Lot next to my car, after rehearsal was over – about 10:45am: 111˚F.
The dirt under the asphalt is much better at conducting the heat away from the surface.
(Measurements performed with a hand-held Fluke mini-62 Infrared Thermometer.)
I played baseball at Rice. In the fall our team conditioning was either on the grass football practice field or on the stadium turf (Astroturf rather than field turf then) depending on where the football team was to play that Saturday. We very much enjoyed (sarcasm) the heat on the turf. On the plus side, if you held your car keys in the your hand and shuffled your feet on the turf and then touched your keys to the play clock it would light up. The number that lit up was always random but we made a game out of it to see who could light up the highest number. Good times!
Why are you touching things that are on fire? That’s a good way to burn yourself!
I was at Rice during the time the artificial turf was installed (1970 or 1971). Before the artificial turf was installed, Texas’s Bevo and the Texas Tech Red Raider on horseback were on the field during at least the pregame and halftime activities, if not the whole game. Afterwards they were absent. Also during that time there was a lot less television coverage (I only remember one game in 5 years being televised) so the time of the game was scheduled far in advance. The shift of the game times from evening to afternoon was moved two or three weeks later in the year due to the heat problem with the artificial turf.
I’ve always thought Jess Neeley looked a little strigine. Always dapper, but a little owlish, too.