The City of Detroit has decided to tear down what remains of Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. This sentence may not mean anything to you, but it is profoundly important to me. The Skydome turns 20 this week, and it was there, during the first season of play under the dome, that I fell in love with the team from the automotive city. The first 17 years of my fandom consisted mostly of awful teams struggling to be competitive. Regardless, I was hooked and to this day the Tigers are one of only two sports teams I care enough about to actually support (the Tiger Cats are the other). I attended multiple games at Tiger Stadium on two separate occasions. Both occurred during the final season before moving to Comerica Park. I was fortunate enough to walk on the field after one of those games, and have some fantastic pictures of the field, dugouts and scoreboard. Tiger Stadium was certainly dated and run down, but it was also historical, and even a bit magical. It represented so much of baseball’s history in the motor city. Most of the Tiger greats played on that field (whether it was called Navin or Tiger). Although Comerica Park is very nice, and the team has been successful since moving there, it could never replace Tiger Stadium for character and memories.
It’s too bad that the current economic situation, and the recent fortunes of the City of Detroit have made saving the stadium unfeasible. I’m sure downtown Detroit doesn’t need another vacant lot, but they can’t afford to maintain what’s left any longer. Someday there will be no one left who remembers the highlights and lowlights of that stadium. In my brief encounter, I found it to be the most incredible baseball park I have ever attended. Sure it was worn down and dirty, but it also had an intimacy and charm that I’ve never experienced. The 20 year old Skydome could never compare. Today I say goodbye to a brief acquantince, and I am grateful I had the chance to be there before the end.