As I write this, crews have begun tearing down Tiger Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. Tiger Stadium has also felt like home to nearly a century’s worth of loyal baseball fans. Since the building of the Tigers’ new stadium, Comerica Park, many people have worked to prevent the destruction of the old ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
Michigan and Trumbull. Those three words alone have raised goosebumps on the arms of generations of baseball fans in Detroit. Now, unless a small group of people are successful in saving some part of what remains, we will have only our memories of this structure which has meant so much to so many for so long.
As a child, I loved so many aspects of the Tiger Stadium experience. There was no main parking lot, so each visit began with the odyssey of finding a parking space, sometimes far from the stadium, and then navigating the long walk down city streets until finally arriving at the stadium’s outer perimeter. There, vendors tempted kids with all of the necessary unnecessaries: baseball hats, pennants, posters, inflatable bats, giant balloons, and everything else you had to have - please, Dad? - to be a true fan. Once inside the towering walls of the stadium, there was the communal experience of walking amidst a sea of humanity, up, up, up the curved ramp toward that magical first glimpse of the field itself and finally to one’s seat. Never mind that you might have an “obstructed view” behind a giant beam supporting the upper deck - it was Tiger Stadium, and it was home.
Years later, I was among thousands in the Detroit area and beyond who were upset when talk of building the new ballpark began. How dare they create something that would make Tiger Stadium, our home sweet home, obsolete? Even the promise of a shiny new haven for baseball couldn’t make me stop clinging to the old, comfortable, known commodity that I cherished.
I labeled myself a purist and boycotted Comerica Park when it opened. Like everyone else in the area, I would hear stories of the amazing new stadium. Still, I stayed away. But after missing the Tigers’ entire first season in their new home, I grudgingly went downtown to see what all the fuss was about.
I tried hard to not like Comerica Park. I really did. But it was impossible to resist. Outside the stadium, gigantic sculptures of tigers with baseballs in their mouths loom over everyone who approaches. Inside, statues of Detroit baseball greats of yesteryear are offered in loving appreciation. Breathtaking views of the field are available from every seat in the house (no obstructions here). Low walls in the outfield reveal the beauty of our downtown cityscape. There are carnival rides for the kids, restaurants galore, and elegant water fountains beyond the outfield wall. Oh man, they even put in those cool ramps so we can continue to flow together as we leave the ballpark. The place is a baseball lover’s dream come true.
Every moment of every day, just like with Comerica Park, you and I have the opportunity to build our beautiful, new selves. In this process, we evolve and become our own “home sweet home.” Parts of us resist what we are meant to be, but we know our resistance is futile.
Sure, we’ve enjoyed many good times in the past. We can cherish our memories and allow them to inspire us as we move forward in our lives. As we become more ourselves and allow our dreams to come true, we can choose not to boycott our own magnificence. As we love ourselves more deeply and completely, we feel at home wherever we go. With our hearts open, every day feels like a game day, and the possibilities for winning are endless. Let’s play ball!
Michael Krieger is a singer and songwriter living in Southfield, Michigan. He can be reached at www.michaelkrieger.com