Remembering Mark “The Bird” Fidrych

Mark “The Bird” Fidrych courtesy Mark Fidrych Foundation

Mark Fidrych reminded you of your childhood, no matter how old you were when he pitched. This was his charm, his curse, his legacy. He personified athletic innocence.
-Michael Rosenberg, Detroit Free Press

I’m a lifelong Detroit Tiger fan & without question one of the most magical summers was the summer of ’76 when The Bird tore up the majors with his talking to the ball, mound grooming antics en route to a 19-9 season, winning AL Rookie of the Year honors (and finishing runner-up for the Cy Young), and leading the league in ERA.
 
He died unexpectedly 11 years ago today, and it still hurts to lose a bright light light like him so young. My dad had a Michigan sports show on TV that year, and I actually got to meet Mark. I don’t remember what he said to me, but I do remember how clear & in the moment he was and above all, what a truly nice human being he was.

More about this weird and wonderful character can be found at BaseballReference.com’s page for Mark Steven Fidrych and definitely watch this interview with Fydrich for a look at this Detroit Tiger original!

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Remembering Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline

Detroit Tigers Al Kaline takes a swing

Al Kaline takes a swing courtesy Baseball Hall of Fame

“I owe everything to baseball. Without it, I’d probably be a bum.”
-Al Kaline

Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers and all of us lost #6 Al Kaline. From his playing days in the 50s & 60s to a broadcasting career that spanned decades, “Mr. Tiger” was a fixture, bringing dedication and a simple love of the game in good times and bad.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame entry for Al Kaline says in part:

The 18-year-old Kaline came to the Tigers in 1953 directly from high school, having never spent a day in the minors, and by the next season established himself as one of the game’s bright new talents. By 1955, at age 20, he became the youngest player to win a batting title when he hit .340. That same year the youngster became only the fourth American League player to hit two home runs in a single inning.

Offensive consistency became Kaline’s hallmark over the years, hitting at least 20 home runs and batting .300 or better nine times each. A superb defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm, he also collected 10 Gold Glove awards. In the 1968 World Series, Kaline’s only appearance in the Fall Classic, he batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight to help Detroit knock off the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

“You almost have to watch him play every day to appreciate what he does,” said veteran pitcher and former Tigers teammate Johnny Podres. “You hear about him, sure, but you really can’t understand until you see him. He just never makes a mistake.”

By the time Kaline’s 22-year big league career ended in 1974, the lifelong Tiger and 18-time All-Star had collected 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and a .297 career batting average.

“People ask me, was it my goal to play in the majors for 20 years? Was it my goal to get 3,000 hits someday? Lord knows, I didn’t have any goals,” Kaline once said. “I tell them, ‘My only desire was to be a baseball player.’”

Read more in the Hall of Fame and please share memories or links to articles you enjoyed in the comments!

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Closed for Opening Day

Empty Comerica Park

Empty Comerica Park by Andrew McFarlane

Today was supposed to be the home opener of the Detroit Tigers but of course that’s not happening. I’ve been living just a few blocks away, and I can’t begin to describe the impact of having every one of the cities amazing venues either empty or being repurposed as emergency healthcare & food delivery locations.

The economic impact to those who work there or rely on crowds of fans of sports & music to survive is frightening, and the loss of one of the beating hearts of a city that still shows up every day, even when our teams aren’t at their best is really putting a hole in my heart this morning. Stay strong everyone.

PS: Shirley is still happy.

Me, Shirley & the Comerica Cats

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Detroit Tigers Opening Day & 2017 Home Opener

4 days to opening day, photo by Kevin Povenz

Justin Verlander will take the mound today at 4:10 PM for the Detroit Tigers as the face the Chicago White Sox for their 116th Opening Day. The first game the Tigers played as a Major League team was on April 25, 1901 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Roscoe Miller started the first-ever Tigers Opening Day, a game the Tigers won 14–13.

The Baseball Almanac lists the results of all Tigers’ opening day games. They are 65-50 on opening days with an 11-8 record against the White Sox.

The Tigers’ home opener – fortuitously for the title of today’s photo – is Friday at 1:10 PM against the Boston Red Sox – play ball!

Kevin posted this back in April of 2014. View the photo bigger and see more in his Fun/Interesting slideshow.

More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

Remembering Mike Illitch of the Detroit Red Wings & Tigers

hockey-tigers-mike-illitch

Let’s Go RED WINGS!!, photo by Cori Conz

Mike Illitch, owner of Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Tigers has passed away. I could link to a lot of articles, but I think the tweets about Mike Illitch are the most powerful things I’ve seen. Here are some I like and please share your own comments.

View Cori’s photo bigger and see more in her I LOVE DETROIT slideshow.

More Red Wings and more Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

Tigers, Cubs, and the 1908 World Series

1908-world-series-tigers-vs-chicagoSaturday, October 10 at Detroit, photo by Kevin Guilfoile ‏

#BaseballGeekAlert

Yesterday Kevin tweeted this box score, handwritten 108 years ago from Game 1 of the 1908 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs. The comments are priceless – check them out for such gems you may have missed such as the fact that the Cubs peppered 6 singles in the 9th inning and that both Evers and Chance – two-thirds of one of the best infields ever – both committed errors!

Heavy.com has a great account of the 1908 World Series that includes photos and a recap of each game. SPOILER ALERT: The Cubs won. They do a great job of setting the stage:

The 1908 series, with the Cubs facing the Detroit Tigers — who were led by the greatest hitter of his era, Ty Cobb — was only the fifth World Series ever played between the National League and the upstart American League which had been in existence as a “major” league only since 1901. The NL was formed in 1876.

The great American writer Mark Twain was still alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series, as was the legendary Apache Chief Geronimo, as Sports Illustrated writer Mark Rushin noted in his history of the 1908 World Series. Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still around, and so was former slave and crusading abolitionist Harriet Tubman who, more than a century later, is about to get her face on the U.S. $20 bill.

Movies were still silent, and though radio had been invented about a decade earlier, the first baseball game broadcast in the new medium wouldn’t happen until 1921, 13 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.

View the photo bigger and head over to Kevin’s Twitter for several more of these 1908 box scores!

PS: Big thanks to Dave Hogg for tweeting this in my general direction!

Happy Birthday, Tiger Stadium

Michigan and Trumbull

Michigan and Trumbull, photo by Joel Dinda

Over on Absolute Michigan there’s a feature entitled 100 (plus) years at Tiger Stadium. It has a ton of photos and links including this excellent column written four years ago by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports about the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium passing relatively unnoticed:

Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness.

…Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.

Read on for more.

View Joel’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his 7/11/1999 – Brewers vs Tigers slideshow.

Here’s a great video from PBS’s America’s Ballparks hosted by Jeff Daniels and featuring many Detroit Tigers greats.

More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

Detroit Tigers Opening Day, 2015 edition

Comerica Sunset

Sunset – Comerica Park, photo by Kevin Povenz

At 1:08 PM today the Detroit Tigers face the Minnesota Twins in their 2015 home opener at Comerica Park. The Tigers’ timeline page begins:

On April 24, 1901, the Tigers prepared to take to the field for their first official American League game. A standing room only crowd was anticipated at Bennett Park, but unpredictable weather postponed the opening by a day.

On that historic afternoon, April 25, 1901, in front of 10,000 fans, the Tigers entered the ninth inning trailing Milwaukee, 13-4. A series of hits and miscues followed, moving the score to 13-12 with two runners on. With two out, Tiger Frank “Pop” Dillon faced reliever Bert Husting, and the lefthanded hitter rapped a two-run double to complete a 14-13 comeback win.

View Kevin’s photo bigger and see more in his Tigers slideshow.

Lots more Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures!

Playoff Time, 2014

Tigers Win by rudymalmquist

Tigers Win, photo by Rudy Malmquist

The Detroit Tigers kick off their fourth straight postseason appearance today vs the Baltimore Orioles at 5:30 PM at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. While the Tigers were almost everyone’s pick for the playoffs in 2014, the Orioles were definitely not. View the series preview right here.

Here’s some interesting post-season storylines that may be of interest to only me!

View Rudy’s photo bigger and click for more of his baseball pics.

Lots more Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures!

PS: Take a moment to appreciate what a great job Rudy did of capturing the Detroit skyline in this shot and LET’S GO TIGERS!!

Happy 113th Opening Day, Tiger Fans!

Happy Opening Day Detroit!

Happy Opening Day Detroit!, photo by kellyanne berg

The Detroit Tigers open the 2014 season today at 1:08 PM at Comerica Park vs the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers got their start as a charter member of the Western League in 1894 and played their first American League game in 1900 when the Western League changed its name. It wasn’t until 1901, however, that the American League decided not to renew the original National Agreement, declare itself a second major league and compete with the National League for players. The Detroit Tiger timeline says:

On April 24, 1901, the Tigers prepared to take to the field for their first official American League game. A standing room only crowd was anticipated at Bennett Park, but unpredictable weather postponed the opening by a day.

On that historic afternoon, April 25, 1901, in front of 10,000 fans, the Tigers entered the ninth inning trailing Milwaukee, 13-4. A series of hits and miscues followed, moving the score to 13-12 with two runners on. With two out, Tiger Frank “Pop” Dillon faced reliever Bert Husting, and the lefthanded hitter rapped a two-run double to complete a 14-13 comeback win.

Kellyanne posted this shot from Comerica Park a couple of years ago. See it bigger and see more of her Detroit Tigers photos (which are mostly real tigers eating meat).

More Detroit Tigers and more Comerica Park on Michigan in Pictures. Play ball!