Tiger Stadium Outfield 2008

A look towards home plate from the outfield of Tiger Stadium in 2008.

MARQUETTE, MI – (Great Lakes Radio) – In 2008, while on vacation downstate, I headed to the legendary corner of Michigan and Trumbull in downtown Detroit.  The site of Tiger Stadium (or at least what was left of the ballpark).  I spent about an hour in the blazing sun with my wife walking around and watching as demolition crews worked to tear down the old park.  It was a melancholy experience.

Tiger Stadium Detroit MI - July 2011

Welcome to Ernie Harwell Park.

Since my wife and I were in town earlier this month on vacation and were going to a Tiger game at Comerica Park that evening, we headed over to the site of the old stadium.  We found the gates open to the field and decided to go for a walk onto the grass out to the diamond.   A home made sign by the gate welcomed us to “Ernie Harwell Park”, a reference to the longtime Tigers broadcaster and the failed effort to save some of the structure to turn it into a museum commemorating the man and the team.

Tiger Stadium, Detroit MI - July 2011

Facing the first base line and the outfield flag pole.

As I walked out across the grass to what was the first base line, the sun was blazing and the sky was a deep blue, a really great day for a ball game.  I’d like to say that striding out on that field filled me with magical feeling of baseball history and some romanticized notion of lore and legacy of the Detroit Tigers, but it didn’t.  I just felt sad.

Tiger Stadium Detroit, MI July 2011
I might be smiling, but it’s a sad place to be.

Sad about how no one ultimately thought enough about the history and legacy to try and save even a small part of the stadium for future generations.  Granted, the old front gate still stands on Michigan Avenue and the flag and pole are in the outfield, but that’s really about it.  The diamond and the pitcher’s mound is still there, too.  It’s maintained by volunteers who don’t want Tiger Stadium to be forgotten.  I tip my hat to their efforts.

I also felt sad that the land I was standing on was in such a state of deterioration.  Some of baseball’s true legends played there.  World Series were played and won there.  Even some of music’s greatest entertainers performed there.  Now it was just a slightly overgrown, dirty and dusty inner city plot of land.  Too bad.

There have been many more eloquent words written about this subject, and I don’t feel that anything I can say that would add to the discussion, but I am glad I took the time to walk out on that field.  That experience really drove home (no pun intended) the need for us to be sure to remember the past and what has come before us, and learn from it.  Or we are doomed to repeat it.

Comerica Park, Detroit MI Summer 2011

A great night for baseball at Comerica Park.

That evening in Comerica Park, as I watched Tiger Miguel Cabrera tag first base after getting his 1500-th career base hit, I hoped to myself that 100 years from now there won’t be somebody peeking through a chain link fence at the scruffy Comerica Park outfield.   Looking at piles of rubble and wondering about what it was like to go to a game at the grand old park.  But not finding any information or signage or commemorations or anything other than a “keep out” sign.

That would be too darn bad…wouldn’t it?

 

-Walt Lindala