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How sad it is to drive into the heart of Detroit on a Friday morning and find no one there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express about a half mile from the stadium. When we checked in, the woman at the desk asked if we were there for the game. She told me that is the reason most people come, which is also sad.

We left the hotel in the early afternoon with the idea that we would go to the Art Institute, which was a couple of miles away. Thinking the system worked like New York City, I thought we could hail a cab, but I was wrong, as there are no cabs prowling the street. We finally caught a bus, which worked out great, as it dropped us off right in front of the museum. On top of that, the dollar bill taker was apparently broken, and we rode for free! On the way we went by Comerica Park (the stupid name for The Park Where the Tigers Play) so we got our bearings for later on.

Anyway, the museum was great, and we enjoyed a good latte when taking a break from the viewing. We took the bus back down Woodward Ave and got off at the Park. This is a very attractive park outside, decorated with fierce tiger heads like wall mounts, each with a ball in its mouth like a dog would retrieve it. I like the tiger head scheme, and when we got out in the dark after the game was over, I found that the balls in the mouths of the tigers are lights. A park should have a nice outside to wander around in, like they have at Camden Yards, and now at Yawkey Way. I also liked the cool carousel where every animal you ride on is a tiger. 

One of the qualities I think a park shouTiger-Carouselld have is a way to circumnavigate it on the inside. That way you can check out all the stuff they have, including the different food and beverages, which is to say, beer. You have to work very hard to find a beer that is not a Bud Light (or the equivalent). Most stadiums seem to have a “Beers of the World” stand carefully hidden somewhere, or a place that will sell you a local beer, but as I said, it takes an effort. You can also see if there is any food besides hot dogs. These are also hard to find, so my circumnavigation has the principal purpose of looking for unusual food and quality beer.

But you find other good stuff along the way. Like in Detroit, they honor ballplayers of the past with a series of sculptures. These are pretty good. I especially wanted to admire Hank Greenberg, because I have a Hank Greenberg story. A few years ago, I went to a game at Yankee Stadium. As I made my way to my seat, I recognized a familiar face. It was Norman Redlich, who had been the dean at NYU Law School when I got my LL.M. in 1981. Scott-ComericaIn fact, it was his efforts to get NYU to place more graduates in the teaching profession that caught my attention and led me down this path. Anyway, I was able to sit with Norman and swap stories; well, mostly hear his stories. He has had a distinguished career. Norman is about 20 years older than me, which figures in this story. He told me he grew up in Queens. As you know, at that time the Yankees were in the Bronx, the Giants in Manhattan, and the Dodgers in Brooklyn, so Queens was the only borough that did not have a team (except Staten Island, which doesn’t count). So I asked him which team he followed. Without batting an eye, he replied, “The Detroit Tigers, of course!” He didn’t have to explain that to me, as Hank Greenberg was a hero to Jewish kids all over the country in the 30’s. There is a really good documentary about him called The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. It is clear that he was not just a good ballplayer, but a good man. 

There wasn’t much exciting food, so I settled for a bratwurst, which was served with a generous dose of onions. Terry was going to have a hot dog, but I persuaded her to have something more Scott and Hankinteresting, so she had an Italian sausage, but she said it wasn’t very good (of course, having had one in Boston considerably elevates your standards). At a different stand, I did find a beer that wasn’t a Bud Light, but to be honest, I don’t remember what it was (and I only had two!). [As I reread to edit, I remember – it was a LaBatt, which I purchased in honor of our Canadian neighbors.]

We made our way to our seats, which were pretty good seats, about a third of the way along the first base line from home plate, but not quite enough rows back as it was raining and the roof stopped just above the row behind us. But Mother Nature cooperated, and the rain stopped so the game could start about 10 minutes late. I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd at the park was overwhelmingly white, even though the city is overwhelmingly black. I have not looked into the sociology of baseball, but I wonder if while a lot of younger fans have been drawn to other sports, perhaps younger black fans have done so disproportionately. I will have more to say about the integration of baseball later, mostly to criticize the racist ownership of one team that was the last to integrate and did not acquire an African-American player until 1959, which was pretty pathetic. Can you name the team and player? But the Tigers were not much better, as they were the next to last, acquiring Ozzie Virgil in 1958.

Of the game, I remember little, except that the Tigers played the Rays and won rather handily. Except that they couldn’t get the last damn out, and we stood there (literally – it seems like a Detroit tradition, and not a bad one, to stand for the final out) for what should have been the final out, and then the skies opened up and it started pouring again, and we retreated to under the roof, from where we watched them finally get that last out after a pitching change.

Note to self. I will try to include among my criteria for judging parks whether there is interesting stuff outside the park, whether you can circumnavigate the park on the inside, whether there is unusual (especially local) food available, and whether there is beer other than Bud Light. I think one of the vendors said it all, when he cried, “Hey cold beer! Hey Bud Light!” which I took to mean that he had beer and he also had Bud Light.

What is the Burnham Baseball Project?

The Burnham Baseball Project records my attempt to attend baseball games at all the Major League Parks, and provides me with an excuse to discourse on whatever strikes my fancy in connection therewith. New readers may want to read my first post, Pre-game Warm-up, to get an introduction to the Project. From there feel free to read chronologically or by Team by clicking on the list below.

Ballparks Visited

American League Teams:

* Baltimore (Oriole Park)

* Boston (Fenway Park)

* Chicago (U.S. Cellular Field)

* Cincinnati (Great American Ball Park)

* Cleveland (Progressive Field)

* Detroit (Comerica Park)

* Kansas City (Kauffman Stadium)

* Los Angeles (Angel Stadium)

* Minnesota (The Metrodome)

* New York (Yankee Stadium)

* Oakland (Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum)

* Seattle (Safeco Field)

* Tampa Bay (Tropicana Field)

National League Stadiums:

* Atlanta (Turner Field)

* Chicago (Wrigley Field)

* Colorado (Coors Field)

* Florida (Land Shark Stadium)

* Milwaukee (Miller Park)

* New York (Citi Field)

* Philadelphia (Citizens Bank Park)

* Pittsburgh (PNC Park)

* San Diego (PETCO Park)

* San Francisco (AT&T Park)

* Washington (Nationals Park)

Ballparks Yet to See

American League Teams:

* Toronto (Rogers Centre)

National League Stadiums:

* Arizona (Chase Field)

* Houston (Minute Maid Park)

* Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium)

* St. Louis (Busch Stadium)

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