Tiger Stadium

Essays and Memories of Detroit’s Historic Ballpark, 1912–2009


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About the Book

Beginning in 1912, Detroit’s Tiger Stadium provided unmatched access for generations of baseball fans. Based on a classic grandstand design, it expanded through the 20th century reflecting the booming industrial city around it. Emphasizing utility over adornment and offering more fans affordable seats near the field than any other venue in sports, it was in every sense a working-class ballpark that made the game the central focus.
Drawing on the perspectives of historians, architects, fans and players, the authors describe how Tiger Stadium grew and adapted and then, despite the efforts of fans, was abandoned and destroyed. It is a story of corporate welfare, politics and indifference to history pitted against an enduring love of place. Chronological diagrams illustrate the evolution of the playing field.

About the Author(s)

Michael Betzold is a former reporter, columnist, and copyeditor for the Detroit Free Press. He lives in Detroit.

John Davids, an architect at Kingscott Associates, produced The Cochrane Plan for renovating Tiger Stadium. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Bill Dow has written about Detroit sports history for the Detroit Free Press and Baseball Digest. He lives in Birmingham, Michigan.

John Pastier is a San Jose-based architecture writer with a specialty in ballpark history and design.

Lifelong Detroiter Frank Rashid of Marygrove College, writes about Detroit literature, culture, and politics.

David Cicotello is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and a contributor to its Deadball Stars volumes. An author and speaker, he lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Angelo J. Louisa is a researcher, writer, and community educator who lives in Omaha, Nebraska.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Michael Betzold, John Davids, Bill Dow, John Pastier and Frank Rashid

Series Editors David Cicotello and Angelo J. Louisa

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: 96 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6448-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3114-1
Imprint: McFarland
Series: McFarland Historic Ballparks

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part I: History and Background

A Century on Common Ground I: Bennett Park and Navin Field (Michael Betzold) 7

A Century on Common Ground II: Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium (Michael Betzold) 30

Detroit Lions Roar at Briggs Stadium (Bill Dow) 64

Longevity and Adaptability: Tiger Stadium’s Evolution, Architecture,

Functionality, Structure and Urban Context (John Pastier with Drawings by John Davids) 68

The Mallparking of America: Tiger Stadium and the Subsidy Game (Neil deMause) 121

Losing Tiger Stadium, 1987–1997 (Frank Rashid) 129

The Battle for Sacred Ground, 1998–2011 (Rebecca Long with a 2016 Postscript by Michael Betzold) 153

Part II: Memories

Tiger Stadium Souvenirs (Bill Dow) 167

Tiger Stadium in Literature (Michael P. Gruber) 178

Tiger Stadium Memories and Stories

• From the Stands 187

• From the Workers 204

• From the Booth 213

• From the Gridiron 216

• From the Diamond 219

“The Biggest House in the Neighborhood”: Living Near Tiger Stadium (Frank Rashid) 229

The Stadium: An Essay in Memory of George Cantor (Tom DeLisle) 238

For the Love of the Game (Karen Elizabeth Bush) 244

Closer (Todd Jones)  247

Reflections on the Closing of Tiger Stadium

• The Final Opener (Kim Stroud) 251

• The Final Week (Judy Davids) 251

• The Navin Field Grounds Crew (John Davids) 252

• Elegy for Tiger Stadium (Jim Daniels) 255

Appendix 1: 161 Baseball Hall of Famers Who Played at the Tiger Stadium Site (Bill Dow) 259

Appendix 2: The 15 ­All-Star Game Home Runs Hit at Briggs/Tiger Stadium (Bill Dow) 261

Appendix 3: The Lions’ Most Memorable Games at Tiger Stadium (Bill Dow) 262

A Select Bibliography of Works About Tiger Stadium (Compiled by Frank Rashid) 263

About the Contributors 267

Index 269

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The editors of this text do an excellent job of tracing the nearly 100-year history of Tiger Stadium… The book’s chief strength is the stories and memories from countless Detroit Tiger fans, workers, announcers, and players…. a richly informative and entertaining resource…recommended”—Choice

• “An extremely well-researched and thorough presentation of both the history of the park and the place of Tiger Stadium in the larger history of Detroit”—The Inside Game (SABR Deadball Era Committee newsletter)

• “Sure to be a winner…edited by five renowned baseball historians…will prove a feast for the soul for Tigers fans, full of memories, anecdotes, perspectives, photos, architectural diagrams, and forgotten history. This is Detroit’s must-have baseball book…a book to savor, sip by delicious sip, like an ice-cold beer, with enough stories and essays to last you through the long, hot summer. All the editors and writers did a wonderful job, adding another volume to what has been a great series by McFarland.”—Detroit Athletic

• “Tiger fans who remember Tiger Stadium with great affection will love this book…. a thorough history of the ballfield… The book doesn’t miss a single significant moment in the park’s history…This fine book is the equal of a no-hitter in the seventh game of the world series. It is memorable, full of fascinating details, and darn near perfect.”—Michigan in Books