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.


  1. Great post! That one was a tear-jerker.
    They should include this story in "Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan's Soul" vol 2.

  2. Evan,

    It was September 4, 1993. The other significance of the game was that it also coincided with Jim Abbott's no-hitter against the Indians for the Yankees. Our seats did not allow us to see the scoreboard, so I was wondering what all these fans were cheering for since the Tigers were losing big time to the White Sox. At least Mickey Tettleton hit a home run.

  3. THIS was one of the best days of Grandpa's life!