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22 Years Ago Today


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Tigers wore historic numbers to honor the greatest Tiger at each position

I went to the last five games.    The day before this, local boy Dave Borkowski pitched a gem (8 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 6K) and they pulled him in the 8th inning and I was so angry.  Let the kid finish the game, his whole family is there, let him have the moment. 

C Brad Ausmus (#11 for Bill Freehan)
1B Tony Clark (#5 for Hank Greenberg)
2B Damian Easley (#2 Charlie Gehringer)
SS Deivi Cruz (#3 for Alan Trammell)
3B Dean Palmer (#21 for George Kell)  
DH Robert Fick (#25 for Norm Cash)  His own number, best Grand Slam I've ever seen in person
RF Karim Garcia (#6 for Al Kaline)   A crime that this guy got to wear that number
CF Gabe Kapler (No Number for Ty Cobb)  Is Kapler the last player to where no number? 
LF Luis Polonia (#23 for Kirk Gibson) 

I was in the first row, lower deck of LF, right over the scoreboard.   Close up view as the all-time Tigers took their positions in the field.   Fidrych was the first one out and of course he RAN to the mound, got down on a knee, started grooming the mound and pulled out a baggie.   Willie Horton was about 15 feet in front of me, he was crying his eyes out.   We (my friends and I) started taking bets on who would be the last out and I won.......I said Alan & Lou would come out together.     I swear after all was done my friends and I lingered long enough to be the last ones to leave.  We had an empty cup and we asked one of the on-field security guys to scoop some up and you can see the dirt from the field in that pouch with the ticket.   It hangs on the wall right next to me.   One of my most treasured possessions.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the time Tiger Stadium closed, I was working as an employee of the company who held the contrat to run the Tigers website.  I have two fond memories from the final game at Tiger Stadium, which I got to spend in the press box:

  1. The reaction of the folks in the press box when Robert Fick drilled his HR...  Typically the working press showed no favoritism during a game and cheering was frowned upon.  That all changed when Fick hit that homer as everyone seemed to burst out and cheer. I don't think anyone cared at that moment!
  2. The final game also brought out some celebrities, the most exciting to me was Tom Wopat.  Yes, Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard...  I grew up watching that show in the late 70's early 80's, so sad to say that was a pretty cool moment for me.  Too bad Daisy wasn't with him...  
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When I was a kid my dad worked at a printing place called Superior Color.   It was right across the freeway from Tiger Stadium and the pedestrian bridge over the freeway let out right in front of his parking lot   During weekday afternoon games on his lunch hour he'd drive up to Sterling Heights pick up my friends and I, bring us to his work, give us a $20 and we'd go to the games.   Bleacher tickets were $3 and we had enough left over   Once he had freebies (they printed programs and last-minute scorecards).  The games would usually end just before he'd get out of work.  If it ended early, we'd go back over there.  He was a supervisor at that point, so he had an office that was soundproof, and he'd take us to the printing press area.  Couldn't believe how loud it was in there.   

This was Superior Color.  Can't believe the building still stands.  Looks to be in good shape too. 

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3351173,-83.0710483,3a,75y,317.48h,89.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRWYdSKQnLgCiC57TIR_7VA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

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I had made plans to take my son & a friend of his to a game that season, but ended up getting rear-ended on I-75 on our way to the game & missed it.  I remember that night, though. I was working, driving around in our station van, listening to the game on the radio.  I nearly ran off the road in tears when I heard the call on that Grand Slam. 

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I got season tickets that year, a 21 game package.  During 1999 it was my final year for my degree and I got my job in July of that year.  I told them immediately I needed that day off.  Because I wasn't working that summer, having gotten my job lined up, I went to a lot of games outside of my package.  The final weekend was really special. We got tickets for Friday/Saturday/Sunday, and the last game was Monday.  I never bought a beer at a game until that weekend.  I remember they had that game countown on the facade of the third deck down the 1B line.  The final week they starting having recognizable people change the number... Kaline was the last one.

The day of the game we planted ourselves on that ramp overlooking the Tiger Plaza, what used to be the Tiger parking lot before Ilitch changed it.  We had realized that the dignitaries were being held in an area beneath that ramp.  We saw Gordie Howe, Fidrych, Horton, etc.  Once in our seats it felt normal and you got into the game but around the 7th we started to get goosebumps thinking "Wow, this really is it".  This was before digital cameras and people were using up their film.  The flashbulbs during the final half inning were remarkable.  

When the players came out that was very special obviously.  The uncertainty of knowing who was next.... figuring out if that was Ron Leflore or Gates Brown... it was so fun to see and I get teary thinking of it.

The next day at work an Australian was telling me how even he thought it was so cool.  He was here for the summer with his new wife who was doing a rotation around the world.  He didn't know these guys.  Barely knew baseball.  But in his thick aussie accent he says 'Seeing these old blokes out there dressed up in their jumpers giving it another go... wow'.  (Jumpers is what they call a Jersey).  

 

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I was a dumb 20 something and was not following the Tigers that much so did not pay it much attention.  Right around the time I started my career at a different firm...doing the exact same thing I am doing to this day.

I recall hearing about it and remembering the last time I went to a game...it had been awhile...at least 5-6 years at that point.  I actually REALLY started getting back into the Tigers in 2002, went to a few games.

I have many vivid memories of Tiger Stadium though...mostly because I did not go to many games...so the ones I did go to I recall pretty well.

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I think Tiger Stadium was an awful stadium. Last game I remember going to was Matt Anderson's debut against the Cubs. I believe Sosa tied or passed a record for most HR in a month. I know I went to a game against Oakland. Not sure if it was before or after that game but I got an autograph from Tim Raines and Jason Giambi before he was a known star. 

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1 minute ago, Motown Bombers said:

I think Tiger Stadium was an awful stadium. Last game I remember going to was Matt Anderson's debut against the Cubs. I believe Sosa tied or passed a record for most HR in a month. I know I went to a game against Oakland. Not sure if it was before or after that game but I got an autograph from Tim Raines and Jason Giambi before he was a known star. 

At the time I had no concept of what a good stadium was, having never really been to any other than that one.  I was 22 when they moved and was probably around 15 or so the last time I was there, but when I was a wee little lad...I went maybe 3-4 times and thought it was awesome each time.

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14 minutes ago, Motown Bombers said:

I think Tiger Stadium was an awful stadium. Last game I remember going to was Matt Anderson's debut against the Cubs. I believe Sosa tied or passed a record for most HR in a month. I know I went to a game against Oakland. Not sure if it was before or after that game but I got an autograph from Tim Raines and Jason Giambi before he was a known star. 

The 5,000 best seats were best in the majors. Best 25,000 seats were well above average. With a 51,000 seat capacity there was a big drop off in quality after the first 40,000.

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3 minutes ago, lordstanley said:

The 5,000 best seats were best in the majors. Best 25,000 seats were well above average. With a 51,000 seat capacity there was a big drop off in quality after the first 40,000.

Right Field Overhang.   CF upper deck bleachers.  Dank, narrow concourses with no view of the field, bullpens on the field, no ferris wheels or kids rides, I loved every inch of that place.  

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24 minutes ago, Motown Bombers said:

I think Tiger Stadium was an awful stadium. 

20 minutes ago, John_Brian_K said:

At the time I had no concept of what a good stadium was, 

 

I used to say that Tiger Stadium had 10,000 of the best seats in the major leagues, but also 40,000 of the worst. Basically the box seats were fantastic places to watch a game -  none of the rest were worth much because of the poles. The upper deck was the mixed blessing. There is probably nothing comparable to how close the upper deck boxes were left at any modern stadium, but the poles holding up the upper deck meant that just about the only good seating in the lower level was the box seats which were out in front of them. The upper deck was great close to the rail  - again those were all 'boxes', but it wasn't steep enough for the seats further back to be very good and then you got to the poles holding up the roof.

EDIT: HaHa  - LS was typing the same post give or take a few thou...

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yes, I remember worrying about not getting the "good" seats when I would see a large walk up crowd.  I came of age in the 90's so for the most part there wasn't a lot of people going to the games.  And with the lack of computing systems you were limited in how picky you could get with tickets.  It's not like today.  I hated being too far into the decks.  It wasn't just about blocking the field but also the sky.  You couldnt see pop ups.  At some point you stopped feelling like you were outside.  The temperature difference from sun to shade was probably 25 degrees during day games.

So yeah it was good if you were in front of the poles.  Not so good after.  My second row seats today at Comerica would be near the end at Tiger Stadium.

 

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I loved Tiger Stadium.  The analysis of it from a hard-headed perspective is silly.  It was a place of history.  I wound up with some bummer seats every so often, but I mostly got great seats, or tipped the usher to move into better seats as the game wore on.

There was nothing to compare with the box seats....lower boxes were incredible, upper boxes were really cool, too.

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1 hour ago, gehringer_2 said:

I used to say that Tiger Stadium had 10,000 of the best seats in the major leagues, but also 40,000 of the worst. Basically the box seats were fantastic places to watch a game -  none of the rest were worth much because of the poles. The upper deck was the mixed blessing. There is probably nothing comparable to how close the upper deck boxes were left at any modern stadium, but the poles holding up the upper deck meant that just about the only good seating in the lower level was the box seats which were out in front of them. The upper deck was great close to the rail  - again those were all 'boxes', but it wasn't steep enough for the seats further back to be very good and then you got to the poles holding up the roof.

EDIT: HaHa  - LS was typing the same post give or take a few thou...

First couple of rows of the upper deck on the 1st base side between the batters box and the bag were heaven. Sat there a few times on weeknights. I really liked the upper deck in right too. Lower deck in left is where we usually sat, especially on cheap group tickets Saturday afternoons or Monday nights, and while the view wasnt all ideal it was so exciting to feel the upper deck crowd thumping above you on a bases clearing double for example.

The one thing I really like about Comerica and all modern parks are the wider concourses and being able to walk around the place and stand anyplace. Felt more boxed into my section at Tiger Stadium.

 

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I only went to Tiger Stadium once - in 1984 - and I Ioved it.  Tiger Stadium was probably an "awful stadium" the way Fenway Park is an awful Stadium.  If you go to every game, Fenway is not the most comfortable place and sometimes you get crappy seats, but it is historic and unique, like Tiger Stadium.  It's a park everyone when should visit once.  

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The few memories I have of going were mostly bleachers sitting almost all the way at the last row right in the middle.  Vaguely recall that with my older brother a couple times. Went once in 1990 when Fielder hit 2 HR's on opening day I think it was with my buddy...in our circle his dad was "rich", but probably just not as poor as us...his dad had a few connections and we got to go in the booth and meet Phil Rizutto...I had no idea who he was (I was 12 I think), but he autographed a ball for my buddy in between innings.  The seats we had that day were not in the bleachers...3rd base side I think.

I recall walking across the cat walk to get to the booth and being scared because it was a pretty far drop below us IIRC.  Definitely not something I was used to.  None of it.  We had to stand quietly at the back of the booth while he finished the call, then he turned around and had a few nice things to say.

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I made it there once, for a weekend in 1975, to see that dreadful 57 win team.  I loved the stadium, the whole atmosphere.  The green seats were amazing to see when you walked down the ramp.  Amazingly a lot of the 68 team was still there...Stanley, Horton, Freehan and some others I think.  And Ron LeFlore.  And for all you fans of Danny Meyer and Leon Roberts, they were there too.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Motor City Sonics said:

Right Field Overhang.   CF upper deck bleachers.  Dank, narrow concourses with no view of the field, bullpens on the field, no ferris wheels or kids rides, I loved every inch of that place.  

The thing I miss about it is when you came into the stadium you couldn't see the field.  You went thru the tight spaces, & then there was that moment your little 12 yr old head peaked over the ramp & you saw green for the first time .. it was perfect.

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32 minutes ago, djhutch said:

The thing I miss about it is when you came into the stadium you couldn't see the field.  You went thru the tight spaces, & then there was that moment your little 12 yr old head peaked over the ramp & you saw green for the first time .. it was perfect.

That was awesome..............and my oh my did things echo down there...............

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5 hours ago, Motown Bombers said:

I think Tiger Stadium was an awful stadium. Last game I remember going to was Matt Anderson's debut against the Cubs. I believe Sosa tied or passed a record for most HR in a month. I know I went to a game against Oakland. Not sure if it was before or after that game but I got an autograph from Tim Raines and Jason Giambi before he was a known star. 

I was at that game with my then-girlfriend. Kerry Wood, started, and Sosa broke the single-month HR record, but the Tigers won the game. There was a buzz in the crowd when Matt Anderson came on in the 7th with two on and no outs. His warm-up was pretty electric, to say the least.

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9 hours ago, Motor City Sonics said:

Tigers wore historic numbers to honor the greatest Tiger at each position

I went to the last five games.    The day before this, local boy Dave Borkowski pitched a gem (8 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 6K) and they pulled him in the 8th inning and I was so angry.  Let the kid finish the game, his whole family is there, let him have the moment. 

C Brad Ausmus (#11 for Bill Freehan)
1B Tony Clark (#5 for Hank Greenberg)
2B Damian Easley (#2 Charlie Gehringer)
SS Deivi Cruz (#3 for Alan Trammell)
3B Dean Palmer (#21 for George Kell)  
DH Robert Fick (#25 for Norm Cash)  His own number, best Grand Slam I've ever seen in person
RF Karim Garcia (#6 for Al Kaline)   A crime that this guy got to wear that number
CF Gabe Kapler (No Number for Ty Cobb)  Is Kapler the last player to where no number? 
LF Luis Polonia (#23 for Kirk Gibson) 

I was in the first row, lower deck of LF, right over the scoreboard.   Close up view as the all-time Tigers took their positions in the field.   Fidrych was the first one out and of course he RAN to the mound, got down on a knee, started grooming the mound and pulled out a baggie.   Willie Horton was about 15 feet in front of me, he was crying his eyes out.   We (my friends and I) started taking bets on who would be the last out and I won.......I said Alan & Lou would come out together.     I swear after all was done my friends and I lingered long enough to be the last ones to leave.  We had an empty cup and we asked one of the on-field security guys to scoop some up and you can see the dirt from the field in that pouch with the ticket.   It hangs on the wall right next to me.   One of my most treasured possessions.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Willie out in LF, man, if that didn’t pull at your emotions, nothing would.

It was pretty interesting the spectrum of entrances.  Willie.  Fidrych as himself.  Gibson’s pop up slide. A lot of stoic waves by some of the older players.

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9 hours ago, MotownWebGuy said:

At the time Tiger Stadium closed, I was working as an employee of the company who held the contrat to run the Tigers website.  I have two fond memories from the final game at Tiger Stadium, which I got to spend in the press box:

  1. The reaction of the folks in the press box when Robert Fick drilled his HR...  Typically the working press showed no favoritism during a game and cheering was frowned upon.  That all changed when Fick hit that homer as everyone seemed to burst out and cheer. I don't think anyone cared at that moment!
  2. The final game also brought out some celebrities, the most exciting to me was Tom Wopat.  Yes, Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard...  I grew up watching that show in the late 70's early 80's, so sad to say that was a pretty cool moment for me.  Too bad Daisy wasn't with him...  

You saw Luke Duke?  I met Boss Hogg (somewhat in character) at an auto show at the old play area of the Mud Hens.  He was dressed as the curmudgeon but was friendly as could be.

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