I was on business in Detroit last week. When my meeting was finished around noon, I decided to take a ride over to where the old Tiger Stadium used to be located. To fans of the Tigers, especially the one’s who remember the heyday of this famous ball yard, all you had to say was “the corner of Michigan & Trumbull,” and they knew immediately what you were referring to.
My 2 older sons, Brandon & Joey, and I had the opportunity to be at Tiger Stadium the last weekend that games were played there back in 1999. It was a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, and we were there for the Saturday game. We had media passes for the game, so we had the chance to be down on the field before the game taking some video, and doing some coverage of the festivities. It was a great time, but a nostalgic time. My only regret was that I didn’t get the chance to talk with Ernie Harwell, the legendary Tigers radio announcer.
Fast forward to last week, and as I approached the area, I really didn’t know what to expect. As I drove around the block 3-4 times, just looking & observing, you notice right away that the entire structure of the ball park is gone.
There is a group of people who now do take care of the field area. The infield area is in nice condition. It is laid out exactly over where home plate and the batters boxes, as well as where the pitchers mound and base paths used to be. There are also small benches on each side, in the approximate location of where the dugouts were located.
Even though there is fencing all the way around, the section of original gateway along the first baseline is still intact, and you can enter the area through the gate there. It was open and unlocked. Next to the gate is a small sign that simply reads “Ernie Harwell Field.”
For an old baseball fan like myself who truly enjoys the history of the game, walking around the field area was truly a rare treat. I enjoyed standing in the batters boxes where many of the greats of the game plied their trade. To me, it was almost breathtaking knowing that who I consider the greatest of them all, Ty Cobb, hit from that very spot thousands of times. Also Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and countless other “hall of famers,” did the very same.
I loved walking around the outfield area, taking in the ambiance of it all, and just picturing 50-60 thousand people cheering your every move.
I also recalled the 1971 all-star game, when Reggie Jackson hit one of the longest home runs ever hit there. It would have went completely out of the stadium if not for some construction that was going on atop the roof in right field.
If you love the history of the game, and are in the area, make the trip to “Michigan & Trumbull.” As I like to say, you won’t be disappointed