OT: Tiger Stadium also 100 years old this weekend

Submitted by nmumike on April 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 PM

With all of the media attention on Fenway turning 100 years old this past weekend, Tiger Stadium also turned 100, although it is no longer around of course. What are your thoughts on Tiger Stadium? For me it was where I spent many days watching Chet Lemon or Kirk Gibson, while sitting in the outfield with my Dad.

I think it is a shame that the city does not do more to recognize the old stadium or site. 

It opened the same day as Fenway, and Babe Ruth hit his 700th HR there as well...

Here are a couple of stories regarding the site, and the old Stadium:







April 23rd, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

because of how bad the tigers were when I was young and going to tiger stadium, the place doesn't really have many good memories for me. It was where we always lost in the 90's, so I was not sad to see the team move comerica. 


April 23rd, 2012 at 9:45 PM ^

I'm 23 and grew up watching the same Tigers at the same stadium and I still cried during the last game at Tiger Stadium and continue to watch a video of it on youtube every so often. But I was a huge history buff when I was a kid so I knew the ins and outs of Tigers history more than most kids my age.


April 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

A friend and I went back to Tiger Stadium after it had been half torn down, snuck under the fence and walked arund in the debris.  It brought back a lot of memories.

I grabbed a chairback and some pieces of brick which I gave my dad and grandpa as gifts. 

I was pretty young the last time I saw a game there, but I still vividly remember walking through those squat tunnels and out into the stadium.  It was an extremely visceral experience for me, for wahtever reason.


April 23rd, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

Drove by on my way to Slows and there were quite a few people out playing a game, which is unusual for a Friday. It hit me later that it was the 100th anniversary. 


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

The corner of Michigan & Trumbull will always hold some great memories for me even though it is barren save for the field, which volunteers maintain. Growing up in the 1980s, I had the opportunity to see the great Tiger players of that decade at their professional peak, not to mention the 1984 World Series team.

I still miss the place. I like Comerica - especially now that I have kids of my own, I appreciate a place like Comerica for being open and family-friendly, but I would have loved to see just one more game in Tiger Stadium before it came down, even if it was a mere pick-up game. Just to sit there would have been enough.

It is odd even now, whenever I am at a meeting in our downtown complex, to look straight south down I-75 a few blocks and see....nothing. Never fails to make me think about childhood.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 PM ^

I don't really have any memories of Tiger Stadium, I was too young to really recognize it for what it was. All of my memories are with Comerica

Section 1

April 23rd, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

Tiger Stadium was a better ballpark.

The surrounding neighborhoods could not compare, of course.  But moving the Tigers and abandoning, then demolishing, the old ballpark was a kind of a civic crime in my view.  To me, watching the Tigers in Comerica Park has a phony feel to it.  It would be like watching Michigan play football in Ford Field.

Tiger Stadium was where Cobb played.  And Ruth and Gehrig.  Where the Tigers won all of their World Championships and the scene of the historic 1971 All Star game.

George Will noted something interesting.  We are having the 100th anniversary of Fenway now, and in 2014 it will be Wrigley's centennial.  After that, the next oldest ballpark will be Dodgers Stadium in Chavez Ravine, built in 1964.

Two Hearted Ale

April 23rd, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

I too have been to all three of the old parks as well as old Yankee Stadium. In my opinion, Wrigley and Fenway stand head and shoulders above the rest and Tiger Stadium is a distant fourth...Yankee Stadium had history but George Steinbrenner renovated it in the '70's and it had the feel of a stadium built in the 70's.

A big part of the game day atmosphere at Wrigley and Fenway is the feeling that you are part of the city, especially Fenway. Both are open to the surrounding buildings in the same way Comerica is. I think that is beautiful. When you were in Tiger Stadium you were sequestered to the surrounding area - which probably wasn't a bad thing given the area - and the stadium was a cobbled together mess from multiple additions and decades of decay. I'm glad I went to games there and have great memories of the stadium but I don't think it compares to the other great old parks. Wrigley is my favorite place to see a game; the fans really add to the experience.


April 23rd, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

George Will noted something interesting. We are having the 100th anniversary of Fenway now, and in 2014 it will be Wrigley's centennial. After that, the next oldest ballpark will be Dodgers Stadium in Chavez Ravine, built in 1964.

Yeah, the historic stadium is an endangered species in pro sports. For basketball and hockey it's even more extreme. I think Madison Square Garden is the oldest NBA or NHL venue, and it's about the same age as Crisler Arena.

At least college sports has managed to keep its historic structures intact.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

was simply great.  No other stadium had that look and feel....and smell.  It was a wonderful place to watch a game, and looking back now I cherish every moment I spent there.  It was just so amazing to sit in the same place some of baseball's greatest played.  I get chills looking at old photgraphs, esp those where the stands are packed.  Old highlites of Gibson's homerun against the 'Goose' in 84 still bring tears to my eyes, mostly because the place is gone.


Detroit should build a sports museum on the site, but that part of town is so rundown it probably wouldn't make it.  I wish they had kept parts of the stands and the field  and let high schools and colleges play on it.  Would have been an amazing place.

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April 23rd, 2012 at 5:37 PM ^

...was mentioned by Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg; it was Center Court at Wimbledon.

Center Court no longer looks the same.  And some might say; "See?  Nothing lasts forever and why preserve Tiger Stadium if something as historic as Wimbledon can't be preserved?"  But the fact was that at Wimbledon, they created a new retractable roof that, by shielding London rains, can allow a lot more play on the grass courts.  It is a substantive difference maker for the fortnight in the summer.  Nobody wants a roof on Tiger Stadium or Comerica park for that matter.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

My best memory is of Jim Thome when he was with the Indians smacking homers in batting practice off of the back wall in the upper deck in right field. The stadium was very cozy, something you don't get with the new  stadiums. 


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

I'll never forgive Illitch for taking Tiger Stadium from my kids.  Maybe someday they will feel about CoPa like I did about the Corner, but I doubt it.  So much went into Comerica to make it "quaint" and "old school".  Pewabic tiles, cool statues, kids' rides, the ridiculous home plate-shaped dirt around home plate.  None of it was necessary.  They had the real thing, it was just in the wrong (for them) neighborhood.  Walking out from the cool damp dark echoey tunnels to the warm sun, the green field and bright white uniforms is something I'll never forget.

French West Indian

April 23rd, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

I really have some strongly mixed feelings about Illitch.  The family has done much good for the city but at the same time, demolishing Tiger Stadium in favor of Comerica is almost criminal in my view.

There was really no reason that it couldn't have been renovated.  It was really no more obsolete than Michigan Stadium and we've just witnessed a successful upgrade in Ann Arbor.  It could have been done.  Illitch just didn't want to do it.

I really miss the old ballpark.  I know that many people complained about the columns that obstructed the view in some seats but those columns also provided an exceptional level of cosiness with the game.  If you had ever had the privilege sit in the first couple of rows of the upper deck, there was literally no better seats in all of sports.  You literally felt as if you were floating above the game with some kind of surreal bird's eye view.  Definitely a cherished memory.

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April 23rd, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Right; when I say that "Tiger Stadium was a better ballpark," I don't mean that it had some quirky historical quality that made it quasi-interesting.  What I mean is that it was a superior place to watch baseball, compared to practically any stadium you can name, Comerica Park included.  The sightlines were better.  The atmosphere was better.  You felt closer.  Then on top of all of that, you could add the historical atmosphere, which was fantastic.

You could account for all of the couple-thousand obstructed view seats in Tiger Stadium, and still have more seats (like, 45,000) for big games, than Comerica.  Just no luxury boxes.


April 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

I agree 100% with this. There were a lot more good seats at Tiger Stadium than there are at Comerica, where the upper deck is miles away from the action.  But the lack of luxury boxes was a killer. 


April 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 PM ^

I loved Tiger Stadium.  I think it was much more unique than Comerica (which, aside from having a deep center field, really isn't much different from the other 15 new ballparks out there).  But to say it was "no more obsolete than Michigan Stadium" is not true.  Renovating Michigan Stadium was not logistically that difficult - we left most of the existing structure intact and simply added on. 

That option didn't exist at Tiger Stadium.  It had a roof over the field, numerous obstructed seats, and in order to put luxury boxes in (which are a necessity these days), there would have had to have been a massive reconfiguration of the stadium - they would have had to tear down the upper deck, put in boxes, and then build a new upper deck on top of it (probably further away from the action than before).  Realistically, the only way to keep Tiger Stadium going was to do to it what New York did to Yankee Stadium in the 1970s - "renovate" the stadium so thoroughly that it basically would be an entirely new structure.  And that would have cost about the same as building a new ballpark, which ended up being a more popular idea with the fanbase.


French West Indian

April 23rd, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

Luxury boxes could have been added to the lower deck at Tiger Stadium (replacing all of the obstructed seats behind columns)...or the roof...or they could have demo'ed & rebuilt part of it. Who's to say that it was even all about luxury boxes anyways as both Fenway & Wrigley seems to be doing fine with whatever limited arrangement of boxes that they have.

Treu, the logisitics may have been more difficult that M Stadium but the bottom line is that if ownership (i.e., Illitch) had wanted to keep the Stadium then he could have.  But the history was less important to him than having his own place near the Fox Theatre and that is what we have now.

I don't hate Comerica as I have had plenty of good times there but it does feel lacking in so much of the authenticity of experience that the old Tiger Stadium had.  The heavy smell of hot dogs & cigarette smoke.  The visceral feeling of enlightenment as you walked out of the dank concourse and got that first glimpse of the brigh green field (and likewise your first glimpse of the light towers as you motored down the freeway towards it).  The thunderous echo of applause as a result of the fully enclosed stadium.  The weird opacity of it from the outside complemented by the intensity of the experience inside with its lack of statues, carousels or even glimpse of the world beyond.  At Tiger Stadium it was all baseball and only baseball.  I even miss weirdly free-market carnival of street vendors outside many of whom were selling obviously unofficial gear with an almost homemade quality to it.  Comerica is so sterile by comparison, I don't think that are any unoffiicial retailers near it.  Is it possible to buy a baseball cap anywhere near Comerica for less that $20 (and no doubt Illitch has gamed it so that he is getting a piece of all the action in the neighborhood).

Yeah, I miss a lot about that old stadium.


April 23rd, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

Fenway and Wrigley are able to draw capacity crowds on a nightly basis.  They can accordingly price tickets very highly and get around the luxury box issue.  Tiger Stadium could not do this.  During the 1990s the Tigers generally averaged like 18-20,000 fans per game, and that was at pretty cheap ticket prices.  If they'd raised ticket prices to Fenway/Wrigley levels, they wouldn't have drawn any fans.  Whether it was the neighborhood, the team, or the stadium, the fanbase didn't feel the same urgency to go to games the way the Cub/Red Sox fanbases do.  Of course they would have drawn more if the team were a winner, but in order to be a winner you usually have to spend, and Tiger Stadium was not generating that kind of revenue.  Luxury boxes were going to be essential. 

I agree that Tiger Stadium was a great place.  I'm not arguing otherwise.  But it would have been very difficult to bring up to date.  Yes, it could have been partially demolished and rebuilt, but that would have cost a ton of money, and there was a significant portion of the fanbase that preferred a new stadium.



rob f

April 23rd, 2012 at 9:12 PM ^

those exact seats (as I just posted yesterday in the "META:  OT Board" thread) were the best seats in the house at Tiger Stadium.

[quote]My all-time favorite seats for watching a Tigers game were any of the first few rows in the overhang (Right Field Upper Deck) at Tiger Stadium.  I have yet to find any really good upper deck seats (other than maybe upper deck right behind Home plate, and they're overpriced) at Comerica.[/quote]

Those seats were literally the closest thing, within any Baseball Stadium, to being in Heaven.


April 24th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

Yeah, the problem with the current generation of "state-of-the-art" stadiums is that the upper deck is always behind the lower deck, meaning no poles in the way but you're miles from the action. 

There have been minor league ballparks built where the upper deck is above the lower deck without poles supporting it (they use some kind of suspension-cable system) but to date no MLB park has done this.  Once someone puts it in, it will make all the other stadiums obsolete.

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April 24th, 2012 at 1:15 PM ^

And again, the support poles at Tiger Stadium were kind of irrelevant unless all 52,000 or so seats were filled.  For most games, it didn't matter.  Nobody had an obstructed view, or if it was it was a minor issue for watching baseball.  And again, even omitting all of the obstructed view seats at Tiger Stadium, there were still more good seats, than at Comerica.  The few obstructed view seats created thousands of great seats.  There might be no obstructed view seats at Comerica; there are also fewer great seats.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:28 PM ^

Last game I went to at Tiger Stadium, a rookie name Jack Morris was a last minute start for Mark The Bird Fidrych (sp?).   That was the beginning of his injuries.  Talk about a changing of the guard.

It was a tough neighborhood though.  A friend of mine got back to his car late after a game (stopped off at the pub) and found his wheels missing.  A few minutes later some "enterprising" dudes drove up to help.  They offerred to sell him a set of wheels.  Sure enough, they came back a few minutes later with a set of wheels...installation included.

Section 1

April 23rd, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

First, the neighborhood around Olympia was considerably more questionable.  And on one (just one) occasion I felt threatened there.  And it was because we were cheap kids who found cheap parking far away.  Second, in countless trips to Tiger Stadium from the burbs, I never once had a problem and the only crime I ever saw in the vicinity of Tiger Stadium was the night we won the '84 World Series.  Where some suburbanites rioted.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 PM ^

...I was thinking about Olympia when I typed the Tiger Stadium comment.  And I remember parking a few blocks away at Olympia (for a Bowie concert) because we were cheep 16 year olds.  It was light out when we parked and the stadium seemed like it was right there.  It was a lot scarier walking back after the concert in the dark.  A lot of people got mugged doing that.

You're right Tiger Stadium was safe right after the game.  But then it became a ghost town.  Just don't grab a beer after the game.

Of course you're better off driving a mile over to Cass and the Lindel AC where you could get in a fight with Billy Martin.

Though I didn't feel any safer going to Masonic to see the Stones.


snarling wolverine

April 23rd, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

Last game I went to at Tiger Stadium, a rookie name Jack Morris was a last minute start for Mark The Bird Fidrych (sp?). That was the beginning of his injuries. Talk about a changing of the guard.

So you didn't go to any games for the stadium's last 20 years of existence?


April 23rd, 2012 at 8:58 PM ^

I moved.  Saw the A's Friday night.  Took the Bart.  

I take the ferry to AT&T park to see the Giants.  It's awesome.  Fantastic new(er) park.  The Ferry drops you off right outside the park at game time and picks you up right after.  No one steals my hub caps.

Despite the memories at Tiger Stadium it was a dump in a bad area.  Bo was right.

There should be a memorial though.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

I'm not that upset for getting a new stadium as it was due (in my opinion).  I more upset that they tore it ALL down.  I know it was expensive to keep the maintence up on an abandoned stadium, but they could have tore some of it down and made the rest into a cool memorial site/musuem.    I think the city leaders said they tore it down for future investers to possibly buy the land and build something.  Who has even considered buying that land to build something and why would they do so?


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

I have great memories of Tiger Stadium, and it is a shame that the city didn't do more to keep it alive.  I know the area is rough and there were limited possibilities for its utility, but it could have been fixed up a bit and still served a civic purpose.


April 23rd, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

Nolan Ryan on the hill for the Angels, taking a one-hitter into the bottom of the 9th, up 2-0.  Ryan plunked a guy, walked a guy, and then Rusty Staub hit a shot to us in right that I still can't believe. It started off low, like a normal line drive. But it had absolutely no arc on it whatsover - it just bored through the air and hit the facing of the upper duck 20' over my head, and when it hit it sounded like someone hitting an iron beam with a sledgehammer.  


April 23rd, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

I also have a Nolan Ryan memory at Tiger Stadium - he went into the ninth inning, up 8-4, but the Tigers loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs, and Cecil Fielder (I think) was at the plate.  He blasted a long fly ball . . . to the warning track.  The Tigers lost, but it was great drama.


April 23rd, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

I wonder if I was at that game.  I'm absolutely positive I saw Nolan Ryan pitch and the Tigers lose at Tiger Stadium.  Just don't remember the score or the details.

Then again, I was also absolutely sure for the longest time that my first game at Tiger Stadium was a game in which the Tigers lost to the Red Sox 9-2 with Frank Tanana pitching.  As it turns out there's no such game.


April 23rd, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

Tiger Stadium was a dump and its neighborhood looks like something out of Uzbekistan, but not the nicer parts of Uzbekistan of course.

Here's to progress!


April 23rd, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

Yes, you can ask! (no FOIA request necessary, either!)




Okay, I'm done being a smartass for a moment. I'm late 20's, going on 14. I dislike those new sterile stadiums as much as the next person, but regardless of how cookie-cutter and dull Comerica Park may be (never been there), that doesn't change the fact that Tiger Stadium was a dump. A dump with a lot of memories for a lot of people, but still a dump.


April 23rd, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

Wrigley and, from what I understand, Fenway aren't "dumps".  It was amazing how much good the quickie facelift did the old place AFTER approval for Comerica arrived.  Prior to that not a cent was invested, cleaning was kept to a minimum, and it took a year to get a beer during a crowded game.  Of course they did hand out those nifty souveniers verifying one's presence during the final season of the"classic" ballpark that they did everything possible to sabotage.

Neglect Michigan Stadium for 5 years...landscaping, concessions, paint, everything and tell me it doesn't become a "dump".



April 23rd, 2012 at 5:57 PM ^

Sure did!  But nobody in my family, including myself, has ever exhibited much interest in baseball, so the few games I saw there had no sentimental value to me.  More importantly, I was still a pre-teen the last time I was there and I distinctly remember being frightened by the trough urinals.  So there's that.

Thus, my cold-hearted and barely-informed opinion that Tiger Stadium was a dump.

EDIT: I'd like to add that I'm shocked that my original comment still has positive points.  I thought my trolling was blatant, but maybe I should've added a trollface.jpg to really drive the point home?


April 23rd, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

That the replacement stadium mantra was actually started by none other than our beloved Bo Schembechler, who at the time (early 90's) was the General Manager for the Tigers under then owner Tom Monahan. 

Ever cantankerous, it was Bo who came up with the "...you're not going to shackle me to a rusty girder...." comment in regards to Tiger Stadium.  For someone who so loved the lore of Michigan Stadium, the nails where Fielding Yost hung his hat, the chairs where Fritz Crisler sat, his disregard for the lore and history of TS doesn't add up.

He was dead wrong on Tiger Stadium and dead wrong on Ernie.  In all likelihood, he was just carrying out his marching orders from Monahan, who I always thought was too much of a weasle to put any of this out there as his own opinion.  It's like him walking into the HC position at Michigan and saying that the University should fire Bob Ufer and tear down and fill in the nearly 50-year old "hole that Yost Built".

I love the man, but IMHO, his stint with the Tigers was his darkest period and the only thing that carries any blemish on his legacy.