Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Detroit Tigers


Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re a newbie visiting Comerica Park in Detroit for the first time, there are a few things you should know. It’s a great ballpark fielding a team with a lot of history, and it’s got lots to offer for a great ballgame experience.

visiting comerica park tickets

Use the third window, the generous guy always hides.

Visiting Comerica Park, Tip #1: Buy tickets at the box office (or nearby StubHub). The Tigers box office is very easy to get to on non-game days, and if you’re not too far away the small parking fee is well worth what you’ll save in online fees buying at the website. The Tigers draw well, but they don’t often sell out, so you should even be able to go on game days. If there’s nothing at the counter, you can try the StubHub office just a short walk away from the ballpark. Try to avoid the scalpers…Detroit is tough on that.

visiting comerica park club seats

With no one walking in front of you.

Visiting Comerica Park, Tip #2: Try the Club seats. The name is a misnomer since they don’t actually offer access to clubs…they should be called the “No Club” seats…but they’re fairly affordable as such seats go, and they’re wider and offer a nice view of the action. You won’t have too many people walking in front of you here either. Comerica has some cool seating areas like the Tiger Den seats and the affordable Kaline’s Corner, but in my opinion the club sections offer the best bang for the buck.

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mcshanes tigers shuttle bus

Their bus is more colorful than Nemo’s down the street. Which makes McShane’s better.

Visiting Comerica Park, Tip #3: Use a shuttle from McShane’s, Harry’s or Z’s Villa. Those are just three good ones. There’s also the Hard Rock Café, Fishbone’s, Bookie’s, etc. Quite a few establishments will give you a ride to the game, and there’s something for every taste. I like McShane’s because it’s across the street from where Tiger Stadium once stood (it’s literally at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, which is cool and historic), Harry’s is good because it’s close and parking is free, and Z’s Villa is well known for some of the best pizza in Detroit. If you plan on having a separate meal or to pre-game a little bit, look into one of these places. Could save you a few bucks on food and parking. But if you’re eating at the ballpark…

healthy food at the ballpark beer hall

Picnic tables for that outdoors-y feel.

Visiting Comerica Park, Tip #4: Have a sit down meal. There are plenty of great food choices at Comerica, like the Late Night Dog, the potachos, or the street tacos, but Comerica also has several sit down eateries, and the selection is much better. The Corner Tap Room is probably the most popular; there is Tiger memorabilia and a lot of memories of Tiger Stadium to go with your Detroit Coney dog. The Beer Hall is a dark restaurant with wooden picnic tables and a party atmosphere, and the Brushfire Grill is an outdoor area with burgers, dogs and BBQ grilled pulled chicken and pork, and more picnic tables to sit and enjoy your meal. There’s also the Miller Lite Pitcher’s Pub upstairs in center field; not much of a view here but less crowded, and a pretty interesting baseball-themed menu. Incidentally, vegetarian and gluten-free choices are also more plentiful at the sit down joints.

visiting comerica park merry go round

Hey kids, want to ride a tiger?

Visiting Comerica Park, Tip #5: Take the kids. Sundays are great because the rides are free and there’s face painting and other delights, but other days are less crowded, and it’s not a big deal to pay a few bucks to get the kid on a less crowded merry-go-round or Ferris wheel. It will probably be the first time your kid has ever gotten on a carousel with tigers instead of horses, and they’ll love the Ferris wheel with the baseball-shaped cars. If need be, you can get a frozen daiquiri nearby.

There you go; five tips for newbies visiting Comerica Park for the first time. Don’t forget the great photo-ops too, like the big Tiger statue at the impressive front gate. And it you’re into that post game party, be sure to stop at Elwood’s or Cheli’s. Great view of fireworks from the roof of Cheli’s on Friday nights.

If you’d really like to rock the house at Comerica Park and do it for less money, get yourself one of these.

More About Comerica Park:

Comerica Park Seating – Three Suggestions

Comerica Park Parking – Three Affordable Spots

Comerica Park Food – Three Things To Try

 

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Comerica Park Seating – Three Suggestions

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Comerica Park seating chart includes everything from the suites to the rolling Tiger Den seats to the New Amsterdam 416 Bleacher Bar. All have their merits, but here are a few of my favorites, for varying budgets.

 

Comerica park seating tiger den seats

It’s like sitting in class, but with a live ballgame!

Comerica Park Seating Tip #1) Tiger Den Seats. The Tiger Den Seats at Comerica Park are “premium” seats, meaning they cost more but the Tigers throw some nice amenities in with it. The seats are padded, wide wooden chairs, there’s a table next to your chair for food and drinks, and you can order that food to be brought to you.

The Tiger Den Seats are in the back of the lower level of the seating bowl, and they’re mostly covered by the overhang, which can be a nice thing on a hot day. You also can access the Tiger Den Club and Lounge, including the private entrance.

If you do spring for the Tiger Den Seats, try something on the first base side if you can. It’s got a much better view of the very impressive Comerica scoreboard, which can be blocked on the third base side.

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comerica park seating club seats

Fewer rows = fewer fans walking in front of you because they forgot to get a hot dog at a baseball game.

Comerica Park Seating Tip #2: Club Seats. I’m not sure why the Club seats in Comerica Park are called the Club seats. They may be nice seats, but there’s nothing exclusive about them, and they don’t include access to any of the clubs. It would be more accurate to call them No Club seats.

But they’re good seats, and they’re a good deal. Club seating is on the upper deck, being the first five or so rows sections between the bases.

The first benefit of these seats is the view; they’re fairly high up but they’re closer to the action than seats behind them, and the view is unimpeded by traffic. The only view problem might be in the first row with the metal bar in front of you, but this isn’t a big deal.

They’re also padded and a little wider, so they’re a bit more comfortable than those hard metal seats that fill most of the ballpark. And like many seats at Comerica, they’re not back-breaking in price. For a padded seat with a decent view, the No Club seats are a good value.

Nothing wrong with the seats on the third base side, but again, the first base side has a straight ahead view of the impressive Big Board, so go for that if you can.

 

comerica park seating kalines corner

Featuring his autograph and everything.

Comerica Park Seating Tip #2: Kaline’s Corner. All Tigers fans know who Al Kaline was; he was an 18-time All Star and Hall of Fame right fielder who played his entire career with the Tigers. Kaline retired with 3,007 hits and 399 home runs, making him one home run shy of the 3,000 hit, 400 home run club of only seven players.

He was also a much nicer guy than Ty Cobb, which is why he’s called Mr. Tiger more than Cobb is.

The Kaline’s Corner section is behind the right field foul pole, which can be slightly annoying in some seats, but they are also among the cheapest seats in the ballpark, and with the seats facing home plate, they’re a better deal than the outfield box section 112 next to them, which is angled more towards the outfield.

Kaline’s Corner is also close to the New Amsterdam 416 Bar, the Miller Lite Pitcher’s Pub and other party areas, including those outfield beer kiosks that sell $5 beers, a bargain at ballgames these days.

I have read that these seats are home to some profanity from fans (I’ve never understood why people with lesser seats are associated with foul mouths), and they are about as far as can be from the carousel and Ferris wheel, so it may not be the best place to bring the kids.

But if you’re looking for an inexpensive night at the ballgame, Kaline’s Corner is as good as it gets on the Comerica Park seating menu.

That’s just a few seating choices at Comerica…if you want the full lowdown on every type of seat from the Dugout Boxes to the New Amsterdam 416 Bar, get yourself one of these!

More About Comerica Park:

Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Three Comerica Park Shuttles

Three Foods To Try In Comerica Park

 

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Get To Comerica Park – Three Tigers Shuttles

Posted by Kurt Smith

Most people use their car to get to Comerica Park. There is a decent amount of parking (I cover three good options here). But there are also quite a few establishments that will give customers a ride to the game in their “Tigers Shuttles”…and some fun party buses too.

I’ve listed three unorthodox ways to get to a Tigers game below…they can help you save some money and include a meal or a drink with your trip to the game.

Tigers shuttles zs villa

I don’t know what team those faces represent.

Tigers Shuttles, #1: The Z’s Villa Shuttle. I like the idea of using Z’s Villa’s shuttle to get to Comerica Park from their restaurant on Piquette Street as opposed to some of the others, for several reasons.

First, the shuttle and parking at Z’s are both free for restaurant patrons. Many of the taverns that will give you a ride to Comerica might offer one or the other, but not many offer both. Hey, the whole point of this shuttle thing is to appeal to the tightwads among us, isn’t it? OK, maybe not if the bar is great, but just saying.

Anyway, you’re saved the parking charge, and because Z’s is further than most places you’ll save the traffic headaches too.

As far as grub, Z’s is known for their pizza. I love pizza as much as any American, and Z’s makes a pretty decent one. Not that their other food is second fiddle; I’ve heard the nachos are pretty good too. But you’ll want to go to Z’s especially if you’re in the mood for pizza, with Comerica peddling Little Caesar’s at a big price.

Z’s Villa Website: www.zsvilladet.com

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Tigers shuttles hard rock cafe

There’s a lot of rock from this city.

Tigers Shuttles, #2: The Hard Rock Café Shuttle. I’ve always liked Hard Rock Cafes, because even though it’s a chain their restaurants usually highlight local stars, so each one is unique in its own way. Detroit’s Hard Rock is no exception, celebrating a rich history of musical stars like Ted Nugent and Kid Rock. And the food is generally good, especially their burgers.

The Hard Rock on Monroe Street in the downtown D shuttles customers from the restaurant to the ballpark, and they’ll even throw in free parking in the Compuware garage nearby when you get your ticket validated inside.

This is especially a great deal if you’re visiting Detroit, since (assuming there isn’t a limit on the amount of time you park, which I didn’t see) the Hard Rock is not far from the Cadillac Center Station on the People Mover. You can take a look at some other attractions like Greektown or the Renaissance Center, have dinner, and then let the Hard Rock take you to the ballpark. Enjoy a full day in Detroit without paying a penny for parking.

The Hard Rock has specials too; I believe there are Happy Hour prices on drinks and there is a lunch special every day. If you’re getting your feedbag on before or after the game, the Hard Rock is a good choice.

Click here for Hard Rock Café Detroit Website.

tigers shuttles tigers party bus

I don’t know if they have a “postseason” bus, but this’ll do.

Tigers Shuttles #3: The Detroit Tigers Party Bus. The Party Bus is a great option if you’re coming from the Royal Oak area; they pick up fans from the Blackfinn Ameripub and give them a ride to the game. You can get an all-inclusive ticket that includes a seat in Kaline’s Corner, and Labatt’s beer and drinks with Tito’s vodka are complimentary for the ride. Much better deal than if you pay for drinks in the ballpark.

They only serve water on the ride back, so by the time you get back to Royal Oak you should be okay to drive home. Nice and convenient and saves you traffic and parking hassles, and you can mingle with fellow fans before a game.

And here’s the best part for you tightwads…if you help the Party Bus people, they’ll help you. You can volunteer to seat people and serve drinks on the bus, or get a group together to go, and your ride and drinks are free…which is something like a $30 value. Get to the ballpark for free with a beer just for social skills!

Detroit Party Bus website: http://tigerspartybus.thesocialconnectionevents.com/

Incidentally, there are quite few more establishments with Tigers shuttles that will give you a ride to the ballpark, like Harry’s, McShane’s in Midtown, and quite a few others. If you want to learn about more of them, get yourself one of these.

(Detroit Party Bus logo courtesy of Detroit Party Bus.)

More About Comerica Park:

Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Comerica Park Seating – Three Suggestions

Three Foods To Try at Comerica Park

 

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FREE eBook for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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Comerica Park Parking – Three Affordable Spots

Posted by Kurt Smith

There are affordable options for Comerica park parking, but it helps to know what you’re doing ahead of time.

Like many post-Camden Yards ballparks, Comerica was placed in the heart of a city, but unlike most major league cities, Detroit doesn’t have much in the way of viable public transit to get to the ballpark (they’re working on it, though). This creates a unique situation, in that there’s a wide swath of city blocks with off street lots and garages that charge for parking on game day.

It’s a good idea to decide where you’re going to park beforehand, so here are three good suggestions from my own experience. They sometimes involve arriving early, so have a plan for something to do.

comerica park parking greektown

Well, you can’t miss the sign at least.

Comerica Park Parking, Tip #1: The Greektown Casino Garage. The Greektown area in Detroit is full of restaurants and bars, and the Casino garage is not only in the middle of it, but it’s also very easily accessed from I-375 and a quick and easy out.

You used to be able to validate your ticket in the casino and park for free on game days, but that isn’t quite so easy now. The official policy, so I was told, is that you need to accumulate a certain number of points on your card and that will make your parking free.

But if you’re not into giving a casino money (they don’t build those chandeliers with your winnings), you might be able to show up well before the game starts and escape without a fee, especially if it’s a weekday or other low demand game. I managed this twice in my last visit.

If it doesn’t work, at worst you pay a small fee–$10 as of this writing–and you can park your car all day in a covered, attended garage that’s a short walk or People Mover ride to the ballpark. And you can get a great meal nearby before or after the game. I’ve been told not to hang out in Greektown too late though.

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comerica park parking fox theatre

Lions with Wings…get it?

Comerica Park Parking, Tip #2: The Fox Theatre Garage. In 2002, I was on a baseball trip with a companion, and I parked my Mustang in the Fox Theatre garage in the morning, for a night game, so that we could get on the People Mover and see downtown Detroit attractions for the day.

This was well before I had offspring, so I wasn’t overly concerned about the parking cost. The Fox Theatre is practically across the street from the ballpark, on a game day I figured it would be $20-25. But as we pulled out of the garage after the game, the bill turned out to be just a mere $2.

Two bucks to park across the street from a major league ballpark. Even in 2002 that was unheard of!

In my last visit to Comerica, I noticed that the rate in the morning was $5, and they told me that yes, you can leave your car there all day including through the game for that price. (There are other places where you can do this, like near the courthouse.)

And again, if it doesn’t work, you’ve parked your car in a covered, attended garage that is very close to the ballpark for a fee that isn’t too bad.

comerica park parking ford field

Even indoors, the Lions still play in any weather.

Comerica Park Parking, Tip #3: The “Other” Ford Field Lot. Ford Field, the home of the Lions, is right next door to Comerica Park…you can see the name of the place on the building from most of the seats.

Ford has a high end lot where tailgating is allowed, on Montcalm Street adjacent to I-75, but this lot costs about as much as the Tigers lots near the ballpark…and they’re not cheap.

But there is a much cheaper lot on the other side of the football stadium from the ballpark, and it’s nicely convenient to the I-75/I-375 interchange for an easier out than most lots.

The best part about this spot is that on most days you can actually walk through the impressive dome to the ballpark, see the football field and even grab a bite to eat at the food stands that are inside. Great on a less than perfect day and you can put some grub in your doggie bag for the game.

Unfortunately you can’t walk through the football stadium on the way back…probably because you won’t be hungry then. But you may pass by some very talented bucket drummers on the way to your car. Well worth it.

That’s just three Comerica Park parking spots…there are many other ways to get to Comerica, and there’s probably a way to get there that suits your taste and budget. Find out about all your choices with one of these.

More About Comerica Park:

Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Get To Comerica Park – Three Tigers Shuttles

Comerica Park Food – Three Things To Try

 

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Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this eBook, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

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What To Eat At Comerica Park

Posted by Kurt Smith

When it comes to what to eat at Comerica Park, there isn’t a go-to food item that draws lines long enough to miss an inning; whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your perspective. Still, there is certainly a wide selection of food and drink items available…and Comerica also has four bona fide restaurants. We’ll start with them.

what to eat at comerica park beer hall

“I don’t know Mrs. Cleaver, he just somehow got this crazy idea that there was beer in there.”

The Beer Hall is located in the left field corner, near the Ferris wheel. Outside it’s on the corner of Montcalm and Brush Street. It’s open to all ticket holders.

The Beer Hall has a very large bar with a nice selection of brews, and the menu is pub fare, mostly burgers and other sandwiches. Even though it’s a bar of sorts, it’s still fairly family-friendly and people do bring their kids for a meal.

what to eat at comerica park brushfire grill

If you want shade, you’re going to have to get a job at the counter.

The Brushfire Grill is an outdoor picnic area on the third base side of the ballpark. This is where the Ferris wheel is, so it’s a popular place for families, especially on Sundays.

The menu at the Brushfire is what you’d expect at a Fourth of July cookout: burgers, dogs, and BBQ pork sandwiches from the new smoker.

Leo’s Coney Island is unfortunately gone; it’s been replaced with the Corner Tap Room, which is dedicated to memorializing Tiger Stadium. It’s small, but it does have some nice outdoor dining and there are some cool dedications to the old ballpark at Michigan and Trumbull. They have fried bologna sandwiches and footlong bacon-wrapped dogs, and a great selection of local brews that you can bring into the ballpark with you.

miller lite pitchers pub comerica park

No actual sitting at the bar, please.

Finally, the Miller Lite Pitcher’s Pub is located on the upper level in right field, in the party area that includes the Pepsi Porch. The menu is a list of baseball-themed selections, such as the “Curve Ball” (portobella mushroom fries with sriracha aioli) or the “Intentional Walk” (potato skins stuffed with sloppy Joe, queso and scallions). But this being in the party area it tends to draw a more adult crowd.

OK, now on with the rest of the ballpark.

Most of the unusual food items at Comerica are found in the Big Cat Court, the huge picnic area with the merry-go-round located on the first base side of the ballpark. In the Big Cat Court you can get gourmet hot dogs or burgers, nachos, taco salads, and great sweet tooth items like elephant ears or Hudsonville ice cream.

There is still a decent selection of food around the rest of the ballpark, but the Court is a good place to go when you want a good variety to choose from without having to look around.

what to eat at comerica park brats

I’ll take seven please.

Around the rest of the ballpark there are many Big League Grills; these stands sell the standard ballpark dogs, brats or kielbasa if that’s more your thing.

Some Big League Grills have extra unusual items, so if you look around a bit you might find something interesting. There are mobile carts selling tacos, nachos and cheesesteaks.

what to eat at comerica park little caesars

No, the Hot-N-Ready is not $5.

The pizza at Comerica is, of course, Little Caesar’s, a chain owned by Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. You’re probably familiar with Little Caesar’s—the only difference is the price, which is jacked up to help pay those player salaries. The Hot-N-Ready already baked pizza is available, but it’s much more than five bucks.

Finally, in addition to the Miller, Labatt’s and other beers available, there are mixed drink carts, and several stands that sell daiquiris…which here are like adult slurpees. Expensive but tasty.

That’s just a small overview of what to eat at Comerica Park…if you want to see some unusual items click here.

And if you want the full lowdown of everything from street tacos to BBQ nachos to bacon on a stick, get yourself one of these.

More About Comerica Park:

Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Comerica Park Seating – Three Suggestions

Comerica Park Parking – Three Affordable Spots

 

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Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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Comerica Park Food – Three Things To Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Tigers have been stepping up and improving the Comerica Park food menu, not just with restaurants but with more unique food stands and kiosks. I used to think the food selection at Comerica was unremarkable, but that has definitely changed. Here are three suggestions if you’re planning a visit…

 

Comerica Park food late night burger

Who knew a fried egg would make a great condiment?

Comerica Park Food Tip #1: The Late Night Burger. The 313 Burger Company in the Big Cat Court has a burger that does it all…it’s breakfast and dinner, it’s steak and eggs, it’s a meal in a sandwich. It’s that Late Night Burger…so named for those visits to restaurants whose best selling point is being open all night.

The Late Night Burger is a burger with bacon, cheese and a fried egg, with some fries in your basket for that true diner feel. I kind of think there are no condiments necessary on this one, but I’m sure some would pour on the ketchup.

The Late Night carries a price tag, but at least you don’t have to find a local Denny’s to enjoy one.

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comerica park food nachos

Juuuust making sure there are jalapenos…check!

Comerica Park Food Tip #2: Beef Brisket Nachos. Comerica has quite a few types of nachos; you can find them at the Mexican stand in the Big Cat Court obviously, and they’ve got some good stuff piled on, and there are even Shawarma nachos with pita chips in the lower concourse. But Ballpark E-Guides Nachos of Choice at Comerica from the Barbecue stands in the concourse and at the 313 BBQ picnic area.

I mean, look at this thing. Certainly enough for two and if you want to convince yourself it’s healthy you’re getting all of the fifteen food groups in here. The best part is that if you miss the Potachos from Michigan Craft Beer, the nice folks at the Tigers organization made these with kettle chips as well.

 

comerica park food coney dog pizza

If only they made Pop-Tarts in this flavor.

Comerica Park Food Tip #3: The Coney Dog Pizza. I won’t lie to you and tell you this is the greatest slice of pizza I’ve ever had, or that it’s even the best slice I’ve ever had in a ballpark or in Detroit. Little Caesar’s is one of those chains known more for quick and inexpensive pizza, which has worked out pretty well for them.

But it’s one of those things that 1) you have to try just for the novelty of it and b) offers something different from the usual slice of pizza. The Coney Dog pizza is made with beanless chili sauce and includes hot dog bites on it. A great idea, combining two of America’s favorite foods.

There’s three food items to try at the ballpark in Detroit, but there are many more…like the aforementioned shawarma nachos, the fried bologna sandwich at Michigan craft beer, and of course the Late Night dog. Just make sure that you come prepared.

More About Comerica Park:

Visiting Comerica Park – Five Tips For Newbies

Comerica Park Seating – Three Suggestions

Comerica Park Parking – Three Affordable Spots

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE eBook for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this eBook, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

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“The Final Season” Book Review

Posted by Kurt Smith

I love Comerica Park, but I’ve always had to tell people that with a qualifier: “But I never got to see Tiger Stadium.”

Which isn’t entirely true; I had driven by Tiger Stadium on both of my first two visits to Detroit, in 2001 and 2002, while it was still standing. So at least I saw the outside of it.

the final season book mich and trum

An historic corner of Detroit, even if there is just a small field there now.

As I pointed out at length in the introduction to the Comerica Park E-Guide, the reason Comerica is not ranked among the best ballparks, despite my opinion that it should be, is the emotional cost of its construction…the demise of Tiger Stadium, first as the home of the Tigers, then literally, finally being reduced to a neglected and fenced-in field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

Were it not for the memories of folks like Tom Stanton, nowadays you would never know how special that corner was to so many people.

the final season kalines corner

Named from the greatest Tiger not named Cobb.

The Final Season: Fathers, Sons, and One Last Season in a Classic American Ballpark (Honoring a Detroit Legend)” isn’t so much about Tiger Stadium and its history—though Stanton does talk about its greatest moments and great players from Cobb to Kaline—as it is Stanton’s own personal reminiscence of his family’s history; to him Tiger Stadium was a constant in the past of a family and neighborhood that went through more than its share of turbulent times.

Stanton sees the classic ballpark as a part of the memories of family members, especially those that had passed on. He tells the stories of grandparents, uncles, and his mother, and how the ballpark was an integral part of his memories of them.

For the book, Stanton, a Tigers fan from birth who was highly upset at his team’s home being replaced, attended all 81 games in the last season of the ballpark.

(continued below)

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the final season ticket holder

Better now that there’s more to eat than hot dogs.

Throughout the book he tells stories about members of his family mixed in with stories of Tiger greatness, touching on the game’s results only as an afterthought in each daily entry. He interviews many people employed at the stadium, from announcer Ernie Harwell to Al Kaline to a longtime outside peanut vendor who tragically dies just days after Stanton speaks to him.

The Tigers go through a bad season, but Stanton seems to register more disgust at those who bleat about the so-called “economic realities” that are bringing about the demise of a place he dearly loved.

At one point he takes issue with the idea, which comes across with a Red Sox fan that he meets, that somehow Fenway Park and Wrigley Field were more special and worth preserving than Tiger Stadium was.

the final season fenway park

Yes, most beloved now

Tiger Stadium opened the same day Fenway Park did—an hour later, as the Red Sox fan points out to him—and Stanton doesn’t mince words at the thought that Fenway’s history is any better. He uses the words of a fan to dispute the idea that an open air ballpark with a view of the city is somehow superior: “I like being able to forget about the problems outside.” Well put.

Stanton is probably right. It is the sheer amount of passing years that sanctifies Wrigley Field and Fenway Park more than anything else…the idea that so little about going to a ballgame has changed in a century. A game at Tiger Stadium must have been just as reassuring, regardless of whether the ballpark had a big green wall or a hand-operated scoreboard.

A ballpark that has simply aged gives a sense that the rest of the world may be falling apart, but baseball still and always will remain. No matter how bad a team is, a ballpark can’t be around for 80-plus years without amassing indelible memories. Tiger Stadium was no different from Fenway in that regard.

the final season memorial

Missed terribly by Orioles fans, even though it stood only 37 years.

One local writer assumed—as many did in Baltimore when the last games were played at Memorial Stadium—that once people saw the new place, they would forget about the old one. That wasn’t really the case in Baltimore, and it certainly didn’t happen in Detroit.

In a reminiscing moment Stanton shares the story of meeting pitcher John Hiller as a kid, who had miraculously moved into his neighborhood. He managed to carry his grocery bags into his apartment for him, meeting Hiller’s wife and children and remembering that he fantasized that they would be friends for life, shortly before he reveals the glum reality that he would not speak with Hiller again until the last game celebration.

Stanton does a masterful job of slowly building up the emotional sentiment to the final game at The Corner. The stories of family become closer to home throughout the book, from the departure of his uncle Herb without a trace to the passing of his mother.

As he and his father are at the final game together in Tiger Stadium and the classic living Tigers take the field one last time, he notices that it’s not the 70 or 80-year olds wiping their eyes, but the generation that followed them.

I won’t give away any more of the last two pages of the chapter, but he beautifully sums up all of his feelings about losing Tiger Stadium, a ballpark that represented his loved ones and kept their memories alive. Throughout Stanton’s description of the final game at Tiger Stadium, one feels his sense of loss, whether one has lost a parent or a cat recently.

the final season comerica gate

Welcome to the suite-filled new Tigers ballpark!

In a bit of an epilogue, Stanton describes attending a few games at Comerica Park, and like many fans, he can’t bring himself to hate it. The end of the epilogue is wistfully touching.

Until reading “The Final Season”, I hadn’t given much thought to the sign that reads “Ernie Harwell Park” on the fence at the untended field where Tiger Stadium once stood.

But Stanton connected the dots for me sharing sentiment from Harwell, saying that Harwell “says it would be best for the neighborhood if the city demolished Tiger Stadium after the team leaves. He fears, otherwise, that the park will sit empty and fall into disrepair, a bulky reminder of better days, and an impediment to the people who live around here in the present, not the past.”

the final season ernie harwell

Better than seeing an unused classic ballpark.

Someone may have thought he was right.

 

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