July 2, 2020

“Home” will always be at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull

April 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Being that I grew up in the upper boonieland of Michigan, I didn’t make it to many games at the old Tiger Stadium, but I did have the privilege of making it to a few games in my early teen years.  I’m not going to bore you with the many scripted cliches that have surrounded peoples first experience in a classic park, you have all read them all before.  By the time we came upon the final season at the Corner,  I was a college student with far more recreational things to do at Michigan State than go to a ball game in Detroit.  I had many more entertaining and regrettable things to do instead of follow the Bengals.  Thre were parties to attend, events to grace, tests to study for and so on.  I don’t have many regrets in my life, but To this day, I regret not making it to the final game at the Corner, or even a few of the final games in that last week of September 1999.  But life goes on…

But for the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull, life didn’t go on.  After countless efforts and thousands of dollars raised, the talking heads that be (or were) in the city of Detroit swung the final death blow and now the Corner now sits vacant; another urban oasis dotting the landscape of inner city Detroit.  I could go on and on about my disgust with city council, the organizations attempting to save it and the need for restoration vs demolition but that is for another entry.

Opening day in Detroit is a party like no other.  It is truly an unofficial holiday in the city.  Everyone, ticket or no ticket , goes down town to party it up and have a good time.  This was my first ever opening day celebration.  Personally, I think opening day is for amateur fans; they come out for one game to have a multitude of cocktails in the presence of the DPD and get roudy.  It reminds me of the couple that only goes out to eat on Valentines day… Personally I don’t see the point of going down town just to drink – opening day is just that – opening day of baseball season, not liquor season.  If you are not planning on going to the game, you shouldnt go.  I never really had the desire to go before.  But I somehow managed to get tickets this year (at face value none the less)  so I put my prejudice asside and went to enjoy myself.

And enjoy myself I did.  There was such camaraderie amongst all who were there pre game.  Everyone was smiling and lauging and having a good time.  No rowdiness, lots of hugs and so much live entertainment to take in.  My seats were fabulous, hotdogs were just as I remembered them last season and my Tigers won.  It all seemed so perfect (except for the bitter cold wind – 36 degrees in the D, but it was sunny!). The whole time I wandered around Grand Circus Park in front of Comerica after the game, I couldnt help but feel like something was missing. I had enjoyed myself, ate my typical summer dinner, bought my souvenirs and yearbook but I couldn’t help but think that something was missing.  Something didn’t feel quite right.  It wasnt until I decided to depart the street party after the game, when fate and horrendous traffic intervened.

My Jeep is very familiar with the pot holes, curves and odd angles that make up the street pattern of down town Detroit.  Its no secret that Detroit doesn’t have the money to properly fix those pot holes and that the city was not in any way shape or form built on a grid pattern.  In an effort to try to find a back way out of the bumper to bumper gridlock traffic that was permeating the area around the stadiums, my Jeep and I wound up heading down Michigan avenue… my thought was to take it to the next available main street and take the back way out of the city.  But my Jeep had other plans for me.  We got stopped at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull on the cobblestone street section by a stoplight and I couldn’t help but pull into a street side parking spot to stop and reflect.

Getting out of my car, I noticed that other cars had the same thought process as mine did.  There were dozens and dozens of cars parked along the street and in the vacant lots off Cochraine Ave.  Tigers fans young and old had stopped to pay their respects to the hallowed grounds where baseball had been played by our beloved Tigers since they became a recognized team in 1901 (and many many years of ball on the site before that).  There were grandparents talking to their grandchildren telling them stories about when they were kids what they used to do at the ball park that was right here.  There were people my age, roaming around taking photos.  There was an elderly man in a wheelchair with his Tigers blanket and ball cap, sitting and gazing out where right field used to be in silent reflection.  There were still more people lined up along the fence over the foot bridge that goes over the freeway. 

I had been to this site hundreds of times before.  I documented and photographed the demolition for far away fans to watch… It was a sunday ritual over the last few years to go say hi to the corner and see what part of her they ripped up that week.  It pained me to see her like that, all falling apart and crusty – piles of rubble to be hauled off to rot in a dumpster.  Millions and millions of memories filling a landfill.  I hadn’t been down to see her since they shattered her final walls and brought down her elevator shaft.  I couldn’t stand to see the big empty hole they had made in the middle of our city. I dreaded driving by her and when I had the opportunity, I took another route so I wouldnt have to look at her emptiness.   But this time it was different.  Eventhough she was physically gone, she was still there.  She was there in the hearts and minds and memories of every fan that still goes to the Corner to see her, to remember her and pay homage to her.  The Corner will never be gone as long as the fans that still love her go and visit her every once in awhile and let her know that she’s still in our hearts and on our minds.

I managed to make it to the 11th opening day at Comerica park – which drew the largest opening day crowd to date, but I had forgotten what lies at the heart of our team – their former home at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull.  I realized what was missing – it was time to stop running from the barren field of memories and time to start loving her again for what she is.  I’m going to go vist my old friend more often this summer, for no other reason than to just say hi and I miss you.


~~~Now, lets just pray that the city of Detroit decides to never put a Walmart on the site – that would be the diamond edged dagger in my nastalga loving heart…

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