Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So much more than another vacant lot in Detroit

A pre-Opening Day visit to Tiger Stadium for a story in 1991 allowed access to all kinds of places we'd never again get to -- like the visitor's bullpen.

I want to send out a quick word of thanks to two folks who linked to the post about Will and me trespassing, err, paying tribute to what remains of one of our favorite ballparks, Tiger Stadium.

Paul Lukas of the always amazing Uniwatch , who linked to us on Monday, which led to someone sending us to Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk .

Together, they absolutely obliterated the previous daily hit record for the blog, kindly introducing us to a wide audience. I'm grateful.

And it also had me thinking about that great old stadium, and some of the adventures there that were told here long ago. I wanted to share some again in case any of those new visitors come back, and I'd love to hear their stories about what happened at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

First can only be one of my favorite baseball moments of all time, when we finally established contact with my favorite non-Met, Frank Thomas on what can only be descrbed as a magical, misty night.

I spent one of the best birthdays ever when colleague John Munson and I had the run of the entire stadium as crews prepared for Opening Day. We saw some amazing things that most fans never got to watch, and explored just about every inch of the ballpark.
I'm sure Dennis Eckerlsy was more graceful getting out of the visitor's bullpen.

Then I had one of my most memorable moments as a reporter on the field, interviewing Hall-of-Famers Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer, plus original Met Al Jackson in preparation for a story about Mickey Weston.

Andrew and I had a wonderful time in roaming around centerfield and getting tips from Tigers players and coaches.

We had some non-baseball adventures at the stadium, too. Kiss kicked off its 1996 reunion tour with a massive spectacle at Tiger Stadium that ended up being a little dangerous.

There were other memories, inclunding the first interleague game between the Mets and Tigers, and the day we met a number of Negro League stars and learned a valueable lesson.

Josh Pahigian listed Tiger Stadium as Place No. 68 in his
101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out and I used that opportunity to run some of my favorite photos of players we've seen play there over the years. The best part about Tiger Stadium was that you could get so close, especially in the bullpen area.

The James Earl Jones lines about baseball in Field of Dream were all true, especially the one about memories so thick that you practically have to swat them away. I thought about that as Will and I wandered around what to some people was a vacant lot at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull earlier this month. Truth be told, it is so much more.


Dan said...

I am one of those who found your blog through Uniwatch and I loved the "trespassing" post. I grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey but made a point to get to Tiger Stadium during its final year, then wrote a column about it for the Asbury Park Press, where I worked as a high school reporter at the time. I've put what I wrote then on my blog, but after reading this post of yours, I realized I need to go back and write down my other memories of that weekend and get the photos scanned in and digitized. Hopefully I'll get to that soon, but thanks for the inspiration!

John Murray said...

Dave, I am pretty sure I took that pix of you and Jim Palmer. That was a great day!