Memories of Tiger Stadium
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By: Jamie Samuelsen
As I’m sure you’ve read by now – today is the 100th anniversary of the first game ever at Tiger Stadium (born Navin Field). Many of you were born and raised on baseball at the Corner and have much stronger memories than I do. But I went to plenty of games both as a fan and as a member of the working press before it shut down in 1999. I’m a big believer that time marches on and it was time for the Tigers to move into a new ballpark. But I also believe that it’s awesome to reflect on some of the great memories in a classic stadium.
FIRST GAME – I moved to Detroit in the summer of 1994 and one of the first things I did when I arrived was to head to Tiger Stadium. Fox 2’s Jennifer Hammond and I both moved here at the same time to start a new job a radio station and we’re both huge baseball fans. So we quickly ventured over the Tiger Stadium and caught a doubleheader on a hot, muggy night against the Chicago White Sox. I’d seen dozens of games on TV over the years from Tiger Stadium – but there was nothing like seeing it in person.
BEST SEAT – Being in the press, I was lucky enough a couple of times to get invited into the broadcast booth that was perched right behind home plate. Greatest vantage point that I’ve ever seen for a baseball game. You could lean out the window if you wanted and talk to the on-deck hitter and he probably would have heard you.
WORST SEAT – Those lower level seats in right and left field were pretty cavernous. On a warm day, it still seemed like it was 30 degrees cooler when you sat down there. I far preferred the upper deck even though it was generally further away.
BEST MOMENT – Again, I wasn’t here in 1984 or 1987 (or 1968…wasn’t born yet). So I’ll defer to you on those moments. But the final game there was electric in every sense. The Tigers won. Robert Fick launched a ball up on to the roof in right field as if he was playing out some script. And then all the old players came parading through the centerfield gate. When Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker entered in tandem, it was one of those moments that you never forget.
PERSONAL FAVORITE MOMENT – Certainly only means something to me, but a good friend from college (Mark Loretta) made his first major league start in Tiger Stadium playing for the Brewers. He hit a solo home run off Jose Lima that night and I was there to see it and congratulate him afterwards. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.
FAVORITE PART OF TIGER STADIUM – I loved getting there early and watching batting practice. Back then; the sound system was lousy so the sound of the ball echoing throughout the park was just the best. Today’s stadiums are all so open, that you just don’t get that sound anymore. It was pure baseball to me.
My guess is that you have a thousand memories of games down there at Tiger Stadium. We’ll talk about ALL of them tonight at 6 on 97.1 The Ticket.