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April 10, 1912|
|Died||November 22, 1982(aged 70)|
|Other names||The Judge|
|Known for||Pioneering modern stadiums|
Roy Mark Hofheinz (April 10, 1912 – November 22, 1982), popularly known as Judge Hofheinz or "The Judge", was State Representative from 1934 to 1936, County Judge of Harris County, Texas from 1936 to 1944, and mayor of the city of Houston, Texas from 1953 to 1955.
A flamboyant and successful orator, broadcaster, developer and sportsman, he was part of the group that created a Major League Baseball franchise the Houston Colt .45s (which later became the Houston Astros) to Houston, as well as built the Harris County Domed Stadium, known as the Astrodome, the first large covered baseball and football facility in the world. Known in his youth as the "boy Mayor," at 23 he was the youngest county administrator in the state. He acted as campaign manager for Lyndon B. Johnson during Johnson's rise to the position of Congressman and then Senator.
After World War II Hofheinz pioneered FM radio and built a network of radio and television stations (790 KTHT Houston now KBME, 1530 KSOX Harlingen TX now KGBT, 680 KBAT San Antonio now KKYX) in the Texas Gulf Coast area, and made a business of salvaging the slag from steelmaking, crushing it and selling it as roadbuilding aggregate. Later, after the "Dome" was built, he worked with engineers at Monsanto Corporation to develop Astroturf, an imitation grass now widely used where natural grass does not flourish. In the 1960s he purchased, along with Israel and Irvin Feld, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, later selling his interest to Mattel, Inc. His giant southwest Houston development project, the Astrodomain, included the first major theme park in coastal Texas, Astroworld. This development came at hard times just before the recession during the early 1970s. His son, Fred Hofheinz, served as mayor of Houston in the 1970s.
In the late 1960s, Hofheinz became involved with a Buffalo, New York, developer, Edward H. Cottrell, in an effort to have the County of Erie, N.Y., build what would have been the world's second domed stadium in Lancaster, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo. Hofheinz formed a corporation, The Dome Stadium, Inc., for this purpose and, when the County refused to build the facility, he and Cottrell began what would become a twenty-year breach of contract litigation seeking hundreds of millions of dollars of lost profits damages. After an initial favorable jury verdict, see "Erie County Loses Dome Suit," Tne New York Times, August 5, 1984, Dome Stadium, Inc.'s claims ultimately were dismissed after one of the longest jury trials in New York history. Kenford Company, Inc., and Dome Stadium, Inc., Appellants, v. County of Erie, et al., Respondents, 67 N.Y.2d 257 (1986), Court of Appeals of the State of New York, Decided May 6, 1986.
Judge Roy Hofheinz was a driving force behind the effort to obtain the Major League Baseball franchise for Houston, along with oilman Craig F. Cullinan, Jr. who had been involved with the failed attempted "Continental League" and who was chairman of the Houston Sports Association executive committee, a syndicate of local businessmen dedicated to bringing a pro baseball team to southeastern Texas. On October 17, 1960, Houston was awarded the Colt .45 franchise in the ten-team National League. They played their inaugural game on April 10, 1962, the Judge's 50th birthday, beating the Chicago Cubs 11-2.
In 2006, Roy Hofheinz was inducted in the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Roy Mark Hofheinz from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Biography page for Roy Hofheinz from the University of Houston, College of Education
- Terrell, Roy. "Fast Man With A .45," Sports Illustrated, March 26, 1962.
- Smith, Liz. "Giltfinger's Golden Dome," Sports Illustrated, April 12, 1965.
- Reed, Robert. A Six-Gun Salute: An Illustrated History of the Houston Colt .45s. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Co., 1999.
Oscar F. Holcombe
|Mayor of Houston, Texas
| Succeeded by|
Oscar F. Holcombe
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