Thursday, July 17, 2008

I refuse to go into mourning over a pile of concrete and steel

I loved attending games at The Corner as much as anyone. I've said in the past I spent much of the 80's hanging out at Tiger Stadium. But from reading what are essentially obituaries in the local dailies the last few days, with Tigers fans making a final pilgrimage to Michigan and Trumbull, you'd think these people lost a close family member, instead of a piece of real estate they had no vested interest in, and occasionally vistited.

We should be happy for the memories we all have,
instead of in mourning. It's ONLY a stadium.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Grown men and women crying over the destruction of the rusting hulk that are the remains of Tiger Stadium. It's not as if the memories have died. For that matter, it's not as if there is no longer a baseball team in Detroit, which would be worth shedding tears over.

Think about it, your memories come from the team that played there, and the people you attended the games with, not the stadium itself. It's just a large structure made of concrete and steel. Your memories are going nowhere, unlike a useless stadium that's a drain on Detroit's finances, and a blemish on the cityscape.

We should also realize not all the memories are good, and I'm not talking about bad baseball (Though we've seen plenty). I am talking about a team that did business in a way that was morally reprehensible for a very long time.

To a substantial number of Detroiters, Tiger Stadium stands as a symbol of past racism. Let's be honest, it's not as if the Tigers were anywhere near the forefront of breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. They were dragged into integration, kicking and screaming. The only team who took longer to integrate than the Tigers were the Boston Red Sox. It took 6 years after the death of Briggs for the Tigers to integrate, signing Ozzie Virgil in 1958 (!), and then only after Briggs' heirs were forced to sell the team.

When you are eulogizing the past of Tiger Stadium,
just remember whom you are also acknowledging...a racist owner.

Was the Tigers' owner, Walter O. Briggs Sr, a racist? Though Briggs saying "no black man would ever play for the Tigers" has not been directly attributed to him, his blatant racism has come to be accepted as fact. Many older, black Detroiters would tell you he was a racist, without question. His lack of action in regard to signing anyone of color for decades speaks for itself. Actually, it's pretty damn obvious in hindsight. Briggs only wanted a team as white as the sheets worn by the KKK wearing the Olde English D.

So for many people, the former Briggs Stadium does not evoke pleasant memories. It represents much of what was wrong with baseball, and by extension, we as a people, through the decades. When taken in that context, the demolition of Tiger Stadium should be considered a good thing. It's exorcising the memories of a long racist owner and sport.

We, as a city and state, have many more pressing issues at hand than the demolition of a well past it's life span white elephant. If you feel the need to say your goodbyes, feel free. I'm not going to stop you. But I won't be joining you.


  1. we agree quite a bit, Al, and again here. I mean, it feels strange seeing a gaping hole in the stadium. That's a hard photo to look at. But I've long been in the "time to move on" camp.

  2. I respectfully disagree. That stadium does not represent a racist owner. That owner used to represent the team. The stadium is NOT racist. It did not choose to have an all white team for so long. The corner holds a lot of history, thats all. Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle etc all the greats played there. It has been a part of Detroit for a vury long time. Let the people mourn. The mere idea that this stadium represents racism is ridiculous. Yes, it needs to go, but the idea of tying racism to the stadium is waaaaaaay out of bounds.

  3. I know it's a pile of rust and faux granite, but it's where I saw Willie Horton break up Jack Morris' no-hit bid in 1977 by laying down a bunt. And it's where Roger Maris used to be greeted with armloads of C batteries when he trotted into right field. And where else could you sing "You're Mama, She Swims out to Troopships" to Juan Beniquez from the upper deck bleachers and have him turn around and give you the double eagle as the weak bloop landed in short center and turned into a double. But, yeah, it's time for the old pile to go.

  4. As a Tiger fan who now lives in Red Sox Nation, I have to point out the difference between the two franchises' attitudes toward their aging ballparks. The Tigers, starting under Tom Monaghan, seized on every opportunity to badmouth the Stadium and the safety of the neighborhood. I'm sure the team did little or no maintenance, in order to project the image of a rundown relic in need of replacement.

    The Red Sox have embraced Fenway Park as a central facet of the team's identity. Fenway has its faults -- tiny, cramped seating for one -- but the Sox have made it a positive, and done all they can to enhance it. The Tigers could have done the same thing, but chose not to.

    Tiger Stadium had its flaws -- too many posts being #1 on the list -- but generally speaking it was a great place to see baseball. Because it was built upward, the fans were close to the game. CoPa has better seating, but it's a huge shallow bowl, so the vast majority of fans are far away from the field.

    The mistakes were made long ago, and it's too late to bemoan them. But I believe the franchise would have been better off -- even financially -- by sticking with Tiger Stadium.

  5. You are an idiot and seem to be a very closed-minded person. Tiger Stadium was one of the most historical places in baseball.. right behind fenway and wrigley. you obviously have have never been to a ball game or have been to limited games at other parks. Being someone who has been to both tiger and comerica, i can tell you it is more then a pile of concrete. the atmosphere is so much better at tiger stadium. im sorry but you could not be anymore wrong with just about everything you said. there is nothing racist about the stadium and memories it provided.