Tigers’ Stadium – A Baseball Jewel

June 20, 2012 — A few months ago Boston baseball fans had a chance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of
Fenway Park. The Green Monster was opened in 1912, just days after the Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland. On the very day that Fenway Park opened for the first time 100 years ago another ball yard was put on display for the first time. It was called Nevin Stadium in Detroit, a ballpark that had just as much charm as Fenway. It would be
called Nevin Stadium until 1938 when the name was changed to Briggs Stadium. In 1960, it was changed again to Tigers’ Stadium. Just like the stadium in Boston, Nevin Stadium in Detroit was a hitters’ ballpark. The stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues in Detroit was designed to be a hitters’ park with the likes of Ty Cobb, at the time roaming the outfield for the Tigers. Cobb was not a home run hitter but he did like the fact that the right field foul pole was only 325 feet from home base. Another famous aspect of the park was the second deck in right field. It overlapped a portion of the playing field down below. Thus a right fielder could be camped under a towering fly ball that would sail into the right field bleachers when it should’ve been an
out. The left field area had a power gap that was close to home base thus it was an ideal spot for right-handed power hitters. Death valley in the park was centerfield that was 440 feet from home. The ballpark was built three years after Cobb And the Tigers lost their third straight World Series. They got beat in back-to-back years By the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 08. It was the only world titles by the Cubs. Detroit also got beat by Pittsburgh in 1909. The new park in Detroit was great for hitting, but not for championships. Ty Cobb would never again play in a World Series in Detroit in the new ball yard. It would be 1934 before the Tigers would make their first appearance in the Fall Classic at Tigers’ Stadium. Detroit got beat by St. Louis in seven games. The last game was perhaps the darkest moment in the stadium’s history. The Cardinals Joe “Ducky” Medwick had to be escorted off the field in the late innings after Tigers’ fans hurled things at him. The Commissioner of baseball, Kennesaw “Mountain” Landis, had to stop the game and get Medwick off the field before he got killed by Detroit fans. The reason for the uproar was a hard slide Medwick made in the previous inning that took out a Detroit player. The Cardinals won that final Game 11-0. The next year, Detroit was back In the series and the results were much better. They beat the Cub to win their first world title. Detroit made it to the World Series again in 1940, but got beat by the Reds of Cincinnati in the Fall Classic. Detroit got a chance for redemption five years later in 1945. They beat the Cubs again in the Fall Classic. After that title, it would be a long time before Tigers’ fans could enjoy another World Series. Detroit behind the pitching of Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich made it to the World Series in 1968. They faced the defending World Champions St. Louis Cardinals again. After falling behind three games to one, Detroit fought back to win the Series taking the final two games in St. Louis. The faithful fans of Detroit would have to wait another 16 years before getting a chance to play in the Fall Classic. After starting the year 20-4, Detroit cruised to the American League title. The Tigers then
swept through San Diego in five games to claim their fifth world title. That would be the last hurrah for Detroit and Tiger fans. Time became an enemy of the grand old park and eventually Detroit officials wanted a new stadium. The new ballpark was called Comerica Park. The final strike and out at the park on Michigan and Trumbull took place in 1999. It marked the end of a ball yard that had 88 years of memories, four world titles,
and lots of great players like Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane, Goose Goslin, Charlie Gehringer, George Kell, Hal Newhouser, Harry Heilman, Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Gates Brown, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, Cecil Fielder and Kirk Gibson. Tigers’ Stadium, a jewel of a
ballpark that had a charm many of today’s new parks of day cannot match.