I know several of you have been to Tiger Stadium. It was a great place to see a game, and I have many special memories growing up with the Tigers and seeing the park many times between 1967 and 1991. In fact, it was a game there in 1974 that started my irrational dislike of Nolan Ryan. But now it’s gone, and it has been replaced…
It’s definitely better that I write about this place rather than tell you about it, because I completely gush when I talk about this place. Victoria and I got there about an hour and a-half early for the Saturday night game. They weren’t letting anyone into the stadium that early, so we just walked around it. The bricks were either sponsored by fans or companies, or were engraved with the name of a player and the years that he played for the Tigers. It was really neat to see the names of players that I hadn’t thought of in years, like Darryl Patterson or Elliott Maddox.
The main entrance behind home plate had these giant crossed bats, and there were street lights that were in the shape of baseballs…except that they weren’t just baseball streetlights, because they were in the mouths of all these gargoyle-like tigers that were perched on the side of the stadium. Once they let us in, the first sight I had was this exhibit that was a tribute to the 1984 World Series team. There were also tributes to the 1968 team, and the earlier year that escapes me since it was before I was born.
There were also some unusual activities for kids (we didn’t take ours). As we went in, we saw the little ferris wheel where kids could ride in giant baseballs. There was even a merry-go-round – no horses, of course, just tigers.
We walked out to center field, and I was just awestruck. I had seen on TV games that this park had a dignified way of displaying retired numbers in left center – just a white number on the brown brick wall and the name in small letters underneath, no silly looking uniform – but I simply wasn’t prepared for the full-body IN ACTION pewter statues of the players. Al Kaline is leaping for a fly ball that is suspended a foot above his outreached glove (there are also spikes in the glove, so that in theory if anyone hits a ball that far and hits the glove, the ball would be caught). Ty Cobb is going in with the raised-leg slide. The strain on Willie Horton’s neck muscles even shows as he is almost horizontal in one of those lunging swings of his.
In short, Camden yards was all about baseball; The Ballpark in Arlington was uniquely Texas; Coors Field was uniquely Colorado; but Comerica Park is uniquely designed with the long history of the Tiger franchise.
I haven’t even gotten to the most unique and impressive part of the park for your average non-tiger fan – the center field fountain. I had seen the televised Ranger games from Comerica and I noticed that when Tigers hit home runs there were fireworks that kind of sprayed. I had no idea until I got there that those weren’t fireworks, it is a gigantic fountain that shoots water about 70 or 100 feet high. Once night fell, the water shows between innings and after home runs were awesome.
Food-wise, I was partial to the Italian sausages that are grilled right in front of you in the breezeways with onions and sweet peppers. And reading this, Victoria is talking about what a terrific night we had (the Tigers came from behind to beat Kansas City), even though she will never again eat yankee nachos (she got sick later, we wouldn’t recommend them).
For a baseball fan, this is an incredible park with unique amenities and TV-quality diamond-vision like I had never seen before. From a lifelong Tiger fan, the only negative is that it is called Comerica, because this place is truly deserving of the title of Tiger Stadium.