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Tiger Stadium Magic

I was a little sad when I read this story about the likely demolition of Tiger Stadium. While you hate to throw around the word “love” with an inanimate object, Tiger Stadium definitely holds some magic for me. While I vaguely remember my first game at the ballpark, I remember a little more vividly what I think was my second time there for a twilight doubleheader. We tried to leave early, but our car was blocked in so we went back to the park and watched the end of the game. I remember John Wockenfuss hitting a grand slam in that second game. I thought he had also hit one in the first game, but when I went to retrosheet, I couldn’t find a doubleheader where Wockenfuss hit a homerun in each game, but he may have hit two in that one game. The best I could tell, this is the boxscore of that game.

The oddest story has to do with the final time I was at the ballpark. It was the second to last Sunday game before the stadium closed and the Tigers were playing the Red Sox. My sister was nice enough to get four tickets from where she working, so I was set there. Then I ran into a problem. I made phone call after phone call and nobody could go. Even my dad had something going on that day. I was determined to go, and headed down to the ballpark, figuring I could give the tickets to a family of three.

So I got down there and hung out by the ticket box. I was kind of scoping out the crowd, trying to figure out who I wanted to sit next too. I probably took a little longer then I needed to, but this eventually turned into a blessing because out of the crowd walked my friend Dana. Now you’re probably wondering why I wouldn’t have called Dana to go since he was obviously interested in the game. Well….

Dana lives in Columbus, OH (or in the suburbs). On a whim that day, he brought his sister in law and her husband up to see the ballpark before it closed. They hadn’t bought tickets yet, so they obviously sat with me. But it was definitely one of the strangest moments I’ve had. Whenever Dana and I talk about it, the only word we use is “weird.”

The Tigers lost, but I didn’t really care. I was able to go down on the field to check it out. It was the first and last time I was out on Tiger Stadium’s infield. It’d be nice if they opened it up one last time for people to visit, but I don’t see that happening. But while they can take the ballpark away, they can’t take away the memories.

That was such a great time and a fortunate moment (for everybody involved). We sat behind home plate for that game.

Posted by Dana on March 16th, 2006 at 12:20 am

Brian, good stuff, and I feel exactly the same way about the ballpark that you do, though I have zero qualms about using the word “love”. I love it there, and it was my number one place to go. I felt totally at home, and I never once took the place’s uniqueness for granted, and believe me, sometimes it was difficult. I know a lot of people like Comerica and maybe get a rare sense of civic pride in being there, but i do not. It’s simply a new type of cookie cutter stadium. I’ve been to many other parks, and it’s just like all the new ones. The planners believe that uniqueness can be injected with “little touches”. These “little touches” don’t add anywhere near enough character to make up for the singular experience of Tiger Stadium.

I went to the last game, and I’ll never forget it, but the very last time I saw the inside of the place was when I played a tournament there in 2002. Each team got one game in the stadium, and I was the shortstop.

Even though it’s sad, I still like driving by the old stadium. I live in Chicago, and every time I come back to visit I make it a point to use the Lodge freeway. I’m going to miss it.

Posted by Dan on March 16th, 2006 at 12:34 pm

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