Saturday, December 5, 2009

Comerica Park

I like Comerica Park. I do not like when people call it COPA. But the park is nice. It is nothing like Tiger Stadium, which I think is what makes it work. Tiger Stadium could not have been recreated and in all honesty should not have been recreated. People didn't love Tiger Stadium because it was the nicest ball park in the world, but because it connected the past with present. The Field connected the fans to the greatest football and baseball players to ever play the game, to boxing greats, rock and roll legends, and presidents and foreign dignitaries alike. The ground was hallowed ground. And as much as I hated to see it go, the choice was made to move the team to a new stadium. Comerica Park or as it is affectionately referred Comerica "national" Park. Tiger Stadium was just that - a Stadium. Comerica Park is - you guessed it - a park. Tiger Stadium looked like a wearhouse, whereas COPA looks like a giant little league field. Tiger Stadium enclosed you and shut out the outside world (which in Detroit it probably not a bad thing) and Comerica is open to the skyline of a Detroit that owner Mike Illitch is almost single handedly revitalizing. Where Tiger stadium linked you to the past inside the foul lines, Comerica links you to the past with a handful of museum-esque columns with pictures, memorabilia, and other artifacts from each decade the Tigers have donned the olde english D.

Comerica Park is nothing like Tiger Stadium. And I guess that's alright with me. Pictured above is the program from the last game at Tiger Stadium (right) and the first game at Comerica (left). My favorite thing about the programs is that even though they are only one game apart the last game program cost $10 and the first game program cost $12. I guess that's the price you pay.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am Thankful

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my wife. This is the first Thanksgiving that I can be thankful for a wife. It is nice. This Thanksgiving morning I am drinking coffee out of my 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series Championship mug, sorting baseball cards, and watching Mike and Mike on ESPN2. Kara is already 4 hours into her 10 hour work day. Sometimes life isn't fair. Thanks Kara.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiger Stadium closed after the 1999 season. I was a sophomore in high school at the time and had only been to one game at Tiger stadium. That game was sometime in the early 90’s although I can’t remember when exactly. I know Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell were both in the Line-up. I know we sat in the center field bleachers. I know I used the trough style urinals (one does not soon forget the first time they use trough style urinals). I also know from my cousin Meredith that I pointed out every Corvette we passed on our drive from Grand Rapids to Detroit.

Most people who write about their first experience at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull (where the stadium is located), rave about being overwhelmed by green, the acres of green grass that was the spacious outfield and the tens of thousands of green chairs. But most people who write about their first experience at Tiger Stadium are older than me. By the time of my visit the seats had long been blue and orange, and I had seen green grass before, so I do not have that crystal clear memory of my first view of the stadium. I remember the flag pole (in play), I remember seeing the poles across the stadium that supported the upper deck and also provided the obstructed view seats the stadium was famous for. I remember being surprised that people walked around selling beer. I remember hearing the language that the people buying that beer used and being scared. I attended the game with my cousins the Williamsons, their dad Uncle Glen, and our Grandpa. I remember being offended that those people were using that language in front of my Grandfather.

There are other things that I wish I remembered but am sure I do not. I know the upper deck in right field overhangs the outfield by about 10 feet, and it’s said that many a right fielder, positioned under the overhang with a beat on the ball had an out turned into a home run thanks to that overhang. I want to remember seeing that porch, and I’m sure I did, but do not remember it. I want to remember Ernie Harwell’s booth that was so close to the action that he could have a conversation with the Umpire if he so desired. I do not. What I do remember, and will never forget is seeing my Grandpa eating peanuts and watching his first Tiger game live.

I drove past the stadium this summer and only a few hundred feet of wall behind home plate was still standing. I don’t know how much, if any, of that remains. I wish I had made it to a game later in life. I wish I had more memories of the stadium. Only a week after I first saw the Stadium torn down my Grandpa passed away. It was my Grandpa who made me a Tiger fan. We watched them play every Sunday, after dinner with the family, and I remember he was the first person to tell me that my favorite player, Lou Whitaker, was going to retire after the ’95 season. My Grandpa and I didn’t watch too many games together over the last 10 years or so, I wish we had.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This is the first Detroit Tiger card I ever pulled from a pack. It was a big event for me because I spent my candy money on baseball cards. For a long time in my life i had to choose between the two. Now I can buy both.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

While growing up in a household on a budget it was a rare occasion that I came out of a meijer toy isle with anything that I had not entered it with. I remember one time I was shopping with my dad and he must have decided early on that he was going to buy me something, although I don't recall coming to this realization at the time, but were that not the case I don't think we would have found ourselves in the toy isle to begin with. It was somewhere around 1990 or 1991 and I had already been a Detroit Tigers fan for a few years thanks to Sunday afternoon's on my Grandpa's couch, and my affections were already leaning toward their fluid fielding second baseman Lou Whitaker. My first purchase from All-Star Sports Cards on Lee Ave. was a pack of 2 or 3 metal coins, and while I don't recall who else I had pulled from that pack - the sweet Lou coin is still in my collection today. So walking down the toy aisle in Meijer nearly 20 years ago I still remember seeing the blue box out of the corner of my eye, a small figure trapped inside, depicted in a crisp white uniform, with the navy blue piping, holding a bat and flanked by not one but two baseball cards. One was a current picture of the player and the other a "rookie card" reprint. I still remember the joy I felt picking it up and finding that it was the same player whose coin I had pulled and cherished only weeks (months?) earlier. The joy must have been visible since when I asked my Dad if I could get it he obliged. I still have the two original baseball cards from that purchase. The Toy was played with with for years and survived chewings by the family dog before disappearing and not surviving a move. Since then I have purchased the SLU on two seperate occasions. Once to be displayed and kept in it's original packaging and once to be torn into again and played with.

Next Time: Alan Trammell's 1991 Fleer card

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why "The House by the Side of the Road" you may ask? As a life long Detroit Tiger fan I, like so many others, am indebted to the great Ernie Harwell for my knowledge and love of the Tigers. Harwell spent 42 years as the radio announcer for the tigers and one of his most famous calls was his description of a batter who took a called third strike, "He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched it go by." Which is an allusion to the poem by Sam Walter Foss. The above Photo is the actual house by the side of the road from Foss' poem used to describe so many baseball greats over the years. As the Tiger's all time leader in strikeouts (batting) perhaps Lou Whitaker should consider purchasing the home as the batter who in all likelihood was most often compared to the house by the side of the road in Ernie's broadcasts.

In 1991 The Tigers flagship station WJR decided not to renew Mr. Harwell's contract. Fans to the first home game were given Ernie Harwell masks to hold in front of their faces in protest of Ernie's firing. New owner Mike Illitch brought Ernie back the following year where Harwell remained until his retirement in 2002. The Mask is pictured to the left.
Next Time: Lou Whitaker's 1990 Starting Lineup and maybe a surprise appearance from Alan Trammell's '90 SLU as well.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back to Blogging

Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Phil Regan, Al Kaline, Tiger Stadium, Ernie Harwell and much, much more.

Stay tuned.