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Tequila Sunrise


As I've mentioned before I'm not a sports guy. I don't watch sports and with the exception of a few unremarkable seasons growing up, I don't play them either. And yet I live in a culture where sports are culturally important and so I absorb some of that excitement simply due to proximity. When I lived in Chicago, for example, I would pass by Wrigley Field on my commute. As such I would claim to be a Chicago Cubs "fan" even if I only went to a couple of games and couldn't name a single player. I wore my Cubs hat for over fifteen years before it became cool to do so.

But my Cubs hat was not my first baseball cap. No, the first hat I ever owned was for the Houston Astros.

It should be noted that I grew up about 250 miles from Houston and have still never attended an Astros game. Growing up in Arlington I should have been a Texas Rangers fan. I attended several games at Arlington Stadium as well as the often renamed Ballpark in Arlington / Ameriquest Field in Arlington / Rangers Ballpark in Arlington / Globe Life Park in Arlington. What is more I can still name at least three former players (Buddy Bell, Iván "Pudge" Rodríguez and of course Nolan Ryan).

But being something of a contrarian I couldn't have a Rangers cap like everyone else and so I chose to wear a Houston Astros cap. Although I didn't know it at the time I was wearing part of a uniform that was "arguably the most radical uniform redesign in major league history". The orange hat with it's blue star and white "H" was the least outlandish part of an ensemble that featured a pull-over jersey with bold stripes of red, orange and yellow stripes encircling the player's abdomen. A navy star offset to the left of the player's chest was counterbalanced by the player's number which was displayed on the player's right thigh. There was a lot going on with this uniform, nicknamed the "tequila sunrise" for the drink it resembled.

For a sport as heavily based in tradition as baseball, it was insane.

But the uniform was also iconic and memorable: two characteristics that one might argue every uniform should have (the team's current uniforms are mostly forgettable). Even though many considered the "tequila sunrise" ugly, the uniforms were a bold choice for the team and in many ways a perfect match for the city of Houston.

As architects we sometimes design buildings that are considered to be ugly. Any creative act runs the risk of being disliked. The difference is architecture can't be ignored as easily as an ugly painting, a bad song or a nonsensical movie. But it is important that those bold choices get made. It's how we as a culture moves forward and it's how the places we live are defined. Don't forget, the Eiffel Tower was initially considered to be just as ugly as the uniforms the Houston Astros wore between 1975 and 1986.