Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If you tear it down, will they come?

So the other day we were headed to Canada and were detoured from the highway. They've got the roads shut down because they're rebuilding everything in order to provide a better "Gateway" to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor. Of course, being an MDOT project, the detour signs were completely useless and we ended up wandering around Detroit. This is not scary to us, as both of us worked downtown for at least ten years and know that the city's horrible rep is for the most part undeserved. (Unless you're talking about city politics, in which case it's worse than you've probably heard.) Anyway, our version of the detour took us to Trumbull Street, the home of Tiger Stadium, former home of Detroit's professional baseball club.

Now, I'm not a diehard baseball fan. I enjoy live games (and courtesy of my writer's flexible schedule, have accompanied my friend to Opening Day the past six years), and might watch an inning or two if I click by it on the TV, but more likely than not I'm can't tell you the Tigers' record on any given day. I'm not compelled to follow every move of the club or watch every game, as I am with Michigan football. Still, I have a certain fondness for the Tigers. The first local championship I ever witnessed was the Tigers' run in 1984. I actually went to over a dozen games at Tiger Stadium that year, in which they opened the season 35-5 and finished with 104 wins. I remember watching Jack Morris throw a no hitter (on the tiny 10-inch TV in my folks' kitchen), and I was actually at the stadium when the Tigers won their 100th game, making Sparky Anderson the first manager to hit that mark in both the American and the National Leagues. When the Tigers clinched that fourth victory in the World Series, I remember walking out from my apartment on campus and hearing people honking their car horns and cheering. (I also remember the overheated coverage of people in the city "rioting" over the championship. Sigh.)

In later years I was excited to see the Pistons, Red Wings, and Wolverines win championships, but the Tigers were my first experience with sports glory, so I have very fond memories regarding the team and Tiger Stadium. This made what we saw during our detour so sad: Tiger Stadium is being demolished.

Don't get me wrong. The new stadium, Comerica Park, is a lovely facility and has contributed to a revival of that part of the city. But it seems so wasteful to just tear down the old ball park. Baseball was first played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in 1896, and Tiger Stadium itself has been around in close to its present form since the late 1930s. After it closed following the 1999 season, however, the park has remained vacant. There is a group that is trying to redevelop the site, preserving at least the field, but it's not guaranteed that they will succeed. Seeing the left field wall come down seems like a blow against all the hopeful things people in this part of Michigan would like to see for the city of Detroit.

1 comment:

  1. I guess when they can tear down Yankee Stadium, nothing is sacred. I AM a huge baseball fan, and I like Comerica well enough, but we went to a game at Wrigley earlier this month and it was so. much. better.

    I often wonder if, in adding all the hoohah surrounding the baseball games and in making the World Series so late at night, the MLB ever thinks about what it is doing to its future fan base.