You might have seen the image at the top of this post floating around the Internet over the last couple of days. I first saw it here:
There are no words for this mid 60s Astros program. pic.twitter.com/i0UEP3JxUU— Stirrups Now! (@uniformcritic) February 18, 2015
Thanks to baseball historian Ed Hartig, I've got the answer to exactly what that program says and when it was printed. But first, a little background.
You know that the Astrodome opened in 1965 and at first, it had natural grass. The Astros had hoped to grow grass indoors through sunlight coming through translucent panels in the roof. Unfortunately, the panels caused tremendous glare and made many outfielders lose fly balls in the sun. So they painted over the panels -- which, as you might guess, caused the grass to die. The Astros painted the grass green for the rest of the 1965 season and began to develop what became commonly known as Astroturf.
They installed Astroturf in the infield to start the 1966 season, but left the painted-dying grass in the outfield.
1966 was Leo Durocher's first year as Cubs manager. The first series the Cubs played in the Astrodome that year was from May 3-5. The Cubs got swept and were outscored 18-5 in the three games. Leo fumed. Not only did he hate losing, he wasn't a fan of the half-Astroturfed field. He called the artificial surface "nylon," termed the Astrodome "a $45 million stadium with a 10-cent infield" and the team a "bush organization".
All of those pronouncements Leo had made about the Astros likely didn't sit too well with Judge Roy Hofheinz, the owner of the Astros. Whether Hofheinz himself ordered the programs printed this way or not is lost to history, but the program cover you see above was from the next Astros/Cubs series in Houston from June 10-12, 1966. Leo's fury boiled over on June 12, according to "Houston Astros: Armed and Dangerous," a book by Jose deJesus Ortiz:
Growing angry as the Astros took control for an 8-4 victory, Chicago Cubs manager Leo Durocher ripped the dugout telephone off the wall and tossed it to the floor. The Astros sent Durocher a bill, but the cost obviously didn't deter the fiery manager.
Durocher pulled another telephone off the wall in the visitors' dugout in the Astrodome during another fit of anger on August 26, 1966. Adding a twist, he threw the phone on the field during a pitching change. According to unofficial Astros historian Mike Acosta, after that 7-4 victory over the Cubs, the Astrodome scoreboard read, "Sorry about that, Leo."
There was even more that had happened during the June 12 game to make Leo upset, too, according to Hartig:
Durocher was furious that the scoreboard operator used a comic animation of a player in a Cub uniform taking a shower, after pitcher Dick Ellsworth left the game due to an injury. The Astros PR man, Bill Giles, son of Warren Giles, later apologized not knowing that Ellsworth was hurt, even though Ellsworth walked off the mound with no Cub manager/coach coming to get him and the relief pitcher (Billy Connors) got as much time as he needed to warm-up.
The Astros pranked Leo again when they took the grass out and went to an all-Astroturf field in July 1966:
On July 6th the Astros grounds crew began removal of all remaining grass in the outfield in preparation of more than 90,000 additional square feet of Astroturf. The last piece of sod was sent in a package to Chicago Cubs Manager Leo Durocher, who had been very opinionated against Astroturf. Durocher later returned the package with a pound of fertilizer included to Astros Publicity Director Bill Giles.
It appears to me, then, that the purpose of the program's cover cartoon was simply trying to tweak Durocher. Take another look at the image:
There's an asterisk after "LSD." The asterisk refers to some words just below the hand of the Astros player in the rocking chair. According to Hartig, those words read: "Leo S. Durocher," apparently trying to call the Cubs manager a crybaby.
Now, Durocher's middle initial wasn't "S" -- his middle name was "Ernest." It does appear that it could have been a drug reference, which seems very odd in that buttoned-down era. Some have speculated it was for "Lake Shore Drive" in Chicago -- but no one in Chicago referred to Lake Shore Drive as "LSD" in 1966. That didn't happen until the 1970s. It did, however, make the Durocher-Astros feud even worse, and it didn't help the team any, either. The Cubs had a horrendous record in the Astrodome not only during Durocher's tenure as manager, but during its entire existence from 1965-1999: 83-137, by far their worst record in any park outside Wrigley Field in that era.
The kicker to this whole thing, of course, is that Durocher wound up his managing career in Houston, as Astros manager in 1972-73. I'm guessing he'd stopped ripping phones off dugout walls by then.