Please note: As I have mentioned before, instead of getting silly with parks, I only count a park once per site. There were two parks at "The Corner", Trumbull and Michigan, but since it is only one site, I only count it once. I have broken down each site below.
The Corner. Originally a haymarket, this site became home to the Detroit Tigers for 103 years.
|Park Name: Bennett Park||Team: Detroit Tigers|
|Opening Year: 1896||First American League Game: April 25, 1901|
|Closing Day: September 10, 1911||Capacity: 8,500 (1901), 14,000 (1910)|
This ballpark was built in Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood and home to many Irish folk. It was named after Charlie Bennett, a catcher for the Detroit Wolverines from 1881 to 1888 who lost his legs in a train accident. This park consisted of a covered wooden grandstand that stretched from first base to past third base. There was bleacher seating extending down the foul lines into the outfield. Later much of this was covered and added to the grandstand. The clubhouse, in play of course, was in the far corner of center field. Charlie Bennett threw out the first pitch of the season during every year Bennett Park existed. In fact, he did this until 1927.
|Park Name: Tiger Stadium||Team: Detroit Tigers|
|Opening Day: April 20, 1912||Closing Day: September 27, 1999|
|First Night Game: June 15, 1948 (last in AL)||Capacity: 23,000 (1912), 30,000 (1923), 52,416 (1937)|
|Architect: Osborne Engineering||Owner: City of Detroit|
|AKA: Navin Field (1912 - 1937) Briggs Stadium (1938 - 1960)||Dimensions: LF 345, CF 467, RF 370 (original), LF 340, CF 440, RF 325|
Allow me to rant for a minute. Why would Detroit build possibly the worst "retro" park when they had a great retro park that just needed some touching up? No one except the city and the team wanted a new stadium. Fans actually mobilized to try to stop the construction of Comerica Park. It is a real shame. Detroit is a dying city, suffering from serious urban decay. It is too bad so much money got channeled into a stupid project. Now Tiger Stadium sits locked up tight. These "retro" parks were great when Camden Yards was built, but now all the new stadiums, minor and major league, for the most part, have gone to this look and it is boring. Like stained glass, we can't make parks like we used to. There is a reason everyone wants to see Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. On a side note, some of the "retro" parks are quite nice. I like Camden Yards quite a bit and I hear San Francisco has a nice park.
Tiger Stadium was opened the same day as Fenway Park. Tiger Stadium should be one day older, but rain pushed the opening back a day. It was originally called Navin Field after owner Frank Navin. When Walter Briggs bought the team, he renamed the park after himself. There have been few major renovations. One is all of the center field scoreboard changes, and the other is Tiger Plaza, a food court, that was originally a parking lot. (Pictured below).
Some of the great eccentricities of Tiger Stadium were the tallest structure in plat, a flagpole in centerfield, 125 feet tall. The bullpens are set below field level, like the dugouts. Tiger Stadium had the only double decked bleachers in the majors. After all of the renovations were finished in 1938, only 19 players have hit a ball out of the stadium. Only four of these players hit the ball out of any part that wasn't the closer right field roof. They are Harmon Killebrew, 1962, Frank Howard, 1968, Cecil Fielder, 1990, and Mark McGwire, 1997.
Possibly one of the greatest oddities about Tiger Stadium was the sign over the visitor's clubhouse that read "Visitor's Clubhouse. No Visitors Allowed".
Ty Cobb and Tiger Stadium were meant for each other. The area in front of home plate used to be called "Cobb's Lake" because the grounds crew would water the heck out of it to keep his bunts from rolling foul. When Cobb was the manager, and a heavy hitting team came into town, he would have the grounds crew roll out the temporary bleachers to make long shots ground rule doubles.
Tiger retired numbers at Tiger Stadium:
The fact of the matter is that Tiger Stadium is a Major League level stadium as of 1999. It wouldn't take a whole lot of work to get it going again. On July 24, 2001, 1,500 people saw the Motor City Marauders play the Lake Erie Monarchs in the first game played there since the Tigers were the team in residence. Other groups, most notably the Independent Frontier League, are trying to get baseball back in Tiger Stadium when the Tigers are on the road.
© 2003-17 Paul Healey.