Fans gather at Tiger Stadium site to celebrate
DETROIT — Fenway Park had a parade of baseball legends and the glitz and glamour of national television.
Tiger Stadium just had some dedicated volunteers on their own version of the Field of Dreams.
The small celebration started early on Friday, when members of the Navin Field Grounds Crew mowed the playing field, getting it ready for the day’s visitors. As the day went, more and more of them showed up, usually carrying gloves, cameras and memories.
“I’m a young guy, but I remember seeing games here as a kid,” said Eric Schawinsky of Livonia, who was wearing a Kirk Gibson jersey. “I was here with my parents and my grandparents. I wanted to be here today just to add to my memories.”
As small groups of families and friends congregated around the ballpark, almost everyone looked up at the flagpole, which still stands in centerfield. Under the giant American flag waved a new addition, an orange and blue flag with the stadium’s three names — Navin Field, Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium — arranged around an Olde English D. Across the bottom, it read “Celebrating a Century of Memories — 1912-2012.”
The flag had been raised by Peter Comstock Riley, a former Tiger Stadium employee who has devoted the last 12 years to trying to save the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
“The flag was supposed to be ready a few days ago, and then I got a call that said they couldn’t finish it,” he said. “Luckily, a group in New Hampshire — some big Red Sox fans — worked around-the-clock to get it done in time.”
Many of the attendees wished that the Tigers had gotten involved in some way, even if the team hasn’t played on the site since 1999.
“I know they couldn’t do anything like what they were doing at Fenway today, but it is a shame that they couldn’t have sent someone over to greet the people that are here,” said Joan Moore of Redford. “A lot of volunteers dedicated their time to get the field looking nice today, and all these people have stopped by. It would have been nice for them to do something for that.”
Mainly, though, it was an excuse to play catch, swing a bat and enjoy old memories.