Comerica Park, June, 2010 - Nats at Tigers

Comerica is a real baseball cathedral. It is designed so that downtown Detroit, which has beautiful buildings, (albeit many unoccupied) is the full panorama of the outfield, and makes it ever so much more annoying that the Capitol cannot be seen from much of Nats Park. There are large tiger sculptures at many of the entrances – skulking, snarling – and there are tiger heads with baseballs in their mouths along several of the exterior walls which look like gargoyles or sconces, and the baseballs are lights.
One of the entrances of the park has a life size statue of Ernie Harwell, and a second flag under the largest American flag is white with EH in black letters. We were a bit surprised that a statue of Harwell was erected so quickly (Harwell had died a month or so before), but it seems that it was dedicated in 2002, we assume when he retired.
There is a monument park in the outfield, with six statues of Tiger greats, also done by Omri Amrany, and I expect pre-dating the ones at Nats Park. Three of these are Vishnu baseball, which I don’t care for – Willie Horton’s has only a bat handle at one iteration, and a full bat only at the last one – at least the ones in Nats Park are not missing pieces! There is also a display of retired numbers, which does not include Ty Cobb’s number – but we then realized that he played before numbers were used.
We did get filmed a bit while we were looking at the statues, as the cameraman said, because they wanted people with Nats gear on, and there were so few in the park. This surprised us because we thought we saw a lot of people with Nats gear – certainly not as much as Cleveland, but say more than in Philadelphia – looks like we Nats fans all gotta get out more! Anyway, we assume we were a part of some pre-game show.
The park has a lot of interior displays and foodcourts, so there is a lot to walk around and see. There is a small Ferris wheel, with baseballs as the cabins, and a carousel on which all the animals are springing tigers. There are large decade by decade displays of Tigers history, focused particularly on the Hall of Famers of each era. We were interested to see that for the 1960s that there was no mention at all of Denny McLain, and only a picture of Mark Fidrych down talking to the pitcher’s mound, but no commentary. One interesting aspect of the displays is that they are each mounted on four automobile tires which are appropriate for each era. An oddity of the playing field is that there is a dirt path from the pitcher’s mound to home plate, and the dirt space around home plate is shaped like home plate, not circular.
I don’t recall much about the two games that we saw, partly because I was talking to cousins at each game, and partly because the Nats were doing so badly – Livo really melted down the one inning where he walked more batters than I think he has done in his other games combined. There was a big round of applause when Pudge Rodriguez, who was catching for the Nats, was introduced. Other items of interest – when one of the Tigers hits a home run, the eyes light up on the large tigers atop the scoreboard. There are also fountains at the back of center field that go off for a Tigers win. The Tigers mascot, Paws, comes out to lead the seventh inning stretch, and seemed to be popular for pictures. At the start of the game they have a local returning serviceman deliver the ball out to the pitcher’s mound, to a standing ovation, quite touching.

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Comment by Mary (17) on August 13, 2011 at 8:40am
My Vet story - can't remember anything about the park or the game, don't even remember who the Phillies were playing - just remember an afternoon game, and we were in the upper deck, on the first base side, with a mother with several children in front of us. A new pitcher was brought in from the bullpen, on a golf cart, which was common at the time. As the starting pitcher walked to the dugout, one of the boys in front of us announced to his mother that the pitcher was going to the dugout "for beer and cookies". Needless to say, we have had a running gag about beer and cookies ever since.
Comment by Kurt Smith on August 13, 2011 at 5:36am

Well when I was growing up of course I still loved going to ballgames there, but my family were all Orioles fans, so we went to Memorial Stadium for games a lot, and of course that was so much better. The Vet was a big multi-purpose facility, and it took away a lot of the baseball feel. If you were on the upper level it took forever to get to your seat...long ramps and no elevators!

 

The sports complex in Philly used to be the Vet, the Spectrum and JFK Stadium where Live Aid was. Now they have three incredible facilities there. It's amazing how much it has changed.

Comment by Randy on August 13, 2011 at 12:26am
For some weird reason I am bummed I didn't make a game at the Vet...
Comment by Kurt Smith on August 12, 2011 at 9:18pm
Went to many games at the Vet myself Mary, growing up in South Jersey; have a lot of great memories there too, but Citizens Bank Park is great!
Comment by Mary (17) on August 12, 2011 at 8:38pm
Wish I had seen Tiger Stadium, and I hope that Comerica will generate great memories and moments for the newer generations. Randy, thanks particularly for your memories - Craig, this site could use a "I remember" column - I do have one particular delightful memory from the mid-1970s at Veterans' Stadium in Philadelphia that I would share.
Comment by Kurt Smith on August 9, 2011 at 2:33pm

Well I can't speak from the perspective of someone who's been to Tiger Stadium, but I know it was right there with Fenway and Wrigley as far as classic ballparks go, but honestly, I think Comerica is a great ballpark. The tiger statues are awesome, and I love the scoreboard and the view of the city. Yeah, Detroit isn't great, but I will say that the area around the ballpark is MUCH better than it was the first time I visited the place.

 

My feeling is that it will take a generation of kids growing up with memories before Comerica gets the recognition it deserves. Just my O. I've always really liked it.

Comment by Gary Herman on August 9, 2011 at 1:58pm
Brian, I appreciate your comments. You're right on the money with what you said. I was being a little too harsh the park a "dump" but I can honestly tell you the City of Detroit is an absolutely hell hole. I've been there many times over the years things have only gotten worse there. For what it's worth, Ford Field is another downgrade. Please see my blog for my recent visit to Comerica Park. My blog link is www.royaltytours.blogspot.com Yours truly, Gary Herman
Comment by Brian Merzbach (45) on August 9, 2011 at 1:35pm
Count me among those who loved Tiger Stadium ... hence the reason I'm not a fan of Comerica Park.  Among the new "retro" parks, Comerica is near the bottom of my list.  It is like they tried to make it as anti-Tiger Stadium as they could.  The seats are too far from the field, the concourses are too narrow, and there are too many non-baseball distractions.  Now I wouldn't go as far as Gary in calling it an "absolute dump", but to me it is just a rather sterile ballpark.
Comment by Randy on August 7, 2011 at 9:56pm

Mary, I was not trying to say bad things about Comerica Park..I like the place! But sometimes after you have been to a few of the newer parks they all start to blend together a little. Nationals Park and Citizens Bank Park have a totally different vibe but somehow seem the same in some ways..it might be just me. I never saw a game at Tiger Stadium but I did spend an afternoon in 2007 trying to figure out a way to break in.. didn't work but I had to try! The affinity I have for the older yards stems from my Baseball upbringing, the first Ballpark I went to was Seattle's Sicks Stadium, my Great Aunt and Uncle took me as a 2 or 3 year old to see the Seattle Angels play. I remember nothing of the place but they told me I was there. My teenage years were spent at two great old wooden parks, Peninsula War Memorial Stadium in Hampton Virginia and Parker Field in Richmond Virginia. War Memorial is still around it hosts a Summer Collegiate League team but Parker Field was torn down after the 1984 season. War Memorial was built in 1947 to host a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club, also served as home to Senators, Expos, Phillies and Mariners farm teams over the years. The year I went to a lot of games was 1980 and that team won 100 games during a 140 game season. Julio Franco and Bob Dernier were two of the players I remember from that squad. Some of the other players that came through there were Duke Snider, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter. Not a bad list! Parker Field was much better, the first night I went to a game there was opening night 1977 and all the local Little League teams got to go around the field for a pre game ceremony, I remember walking by the R Braves dugout and making eye contact with Tommy Aarron. At the age of 12 to be five feet away from Hanks brother was amazing..Dale Murphy was a catcher then and I remember Alfredo Griffin trying to steal second and Murphy threw the ball into center, Baseball was life and death then and it really hurt that Toledo won that night. At Parker Field the players had to walk through a gate on the first base side in order to get to the locker rooms, it was an autograph hounds paradise. The visiting teams locker rooms were right of the field and they would leave the doors open while the bus would pull in to load it after games, you could actually mingle with them. One of my favorites was Johnny Sain who was Richmonds pitching coach, he was amazed that a 16 year old kid knew how good he was in his playing days. He would always ask "Why I wanted his autograph again?" I would tell him because your Johnny Sain.. he seemed to think I was an OK kid so I have 40 or 50 of his signatures in autograph books. Some of the players ended up coaching or managing after there playing days were over and I have got a chance to say Hi to a few. At Safeco Field in 2000 Matt Sinatro was the Mariners bullpen coach and I told him that I used to see him play at Parker Field, he kind of stopped for a second and turned around and said " Nice to see you again".. of course all the kids around wanted me to get them baseballs because " I knew him". The main point of this essay is that to me the old parks had a soul that the new ones lack, when I am at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field it takes me back to being a star struck kid. The main purpose of the park was to play baseball in not to see "The main event" as the Nationals call the presidents race. I get the desire to have amenities at a game, its entertainment and it is not cheap so you should be comfortable. But in a way its kind of a contrived atmosphere, folks watch the scoreboard more than they do the game. Not all people feel the same way about the game as I do...thankfully I might add! But the connection to the past is one of Baseballs best features, you can still feel the what its like to walk into a park for the first time at some of sites of lost fields. The neighborhood around where Shibe Park used to be in Philadelphia still has the houses that used to be across the

Comment by Kurt Smith on August 7, 2011 at 7:09pm
Most excellent...I am calling it a night but I will definitely have a look and comment on it tomorrow...and now I have extra incentive for that blog post!

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