I read Miko's MetaChat post about Tiger Stadium, which included a link to a New York Times slideshow about the old stadium and plans to tear it down (although perhaps not all of it). Miko's story brought back memories of a Perfect Day when my family and I went to a Detroit Tigers game.
It was on Labor Day, 1995. Mrs. Doohickie's Uncle Herb (remember him? I've written about him before- see the fifth picture down) was traveling around the country visiting relatives. We were living in Detroit at the time and Uncle Herb arrived on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Knowing Herb is a sports fan, we asked him if he wanted to go to a Tigers game. After a little checking, we found out that Mondays were Family Value Pack nights where you could get reserved seat tickets that included a hot dog and a coke for only $6 if you bought at least 4. I ordered 5 for me, my wife and two sons (8 and 5 at the time), and Uncle Herb.
Monday was a beautiful day. It started out cool but by game time it was in the 70s and sunny with just a hint of a breeze. We drove into Detroit and, following all the other people driving in for the game, joined a line of cars that parked in some seedy lot full of broken glass, next to an old neighborhood bar.
Wouldn't ya know, we bought tickets in the middle of a section of Cleveland Indians fans. You gotta understand, in 1995 the Tigers were terrible, and the Indians were on their way to the World Series. So lots of people drove up from Cleveland to see the Tribe play. There was a lot of good-natured ribbing between us and the Cleveland fans.
I don't remember too much about the game now. It was more just the scene. There I was with my sons, my wife, and Uncle Herb. Having 3 generations there was great. The weather was great. The stadium was historic, which made it great. At the time, I realized it was one of those perfect days and just soaked it all in.
The only thing that would make it better would be if our hapless team could somehow win. And they did! Cleveland scored two runs in the top of the third inning, but the Tigers scored three in the bottom of the fourth. And that was it. The Tigers pulled it off. The Indians fans were cool about it- "We'll give you this game, but this is our season!"
No wait- the other thing that would make it better would be to somehow get down on the field and see what Tiger Stadium looked like from home base. Well, we got to do that too. It was "run the bases night" for the kids, so my boys and I got in line (which wrapped most of the way around the stadium) and waited our turn. The line bled down quickly and suddenly we came out of a tunnel and onto the field, with lights blaring. Sweet. My sons trotted around the bases with all the other kids, and I just sat there and gawked, taking in the scene.
We knew Tiger Stadium was in its last days, and I think that made the night that much more perfect. We watched a game in a classic ballpark built in 1912, enjoying the historic feel. Yeah, the stadium was ratty by that point. I can't remember if the new stadium was a done deal yet, but the writing was on the wall. Tiger Stadium's days were numbered. It was bittersweet, but for us, that night, it was far more sweet than bitter.