30 Posts, 30 Teams: The Detroit Tigers
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done a “30 Teams. 30 Posts” write up, and in fact it has been awhile since I posted anything whatsoever as life has been busy. I still plan on knocking this project out slowly over time and I’ve decided to get back on my horse with a post on the Detroit Tigers. So here we go…
As a kid, my first memories of Baseball happened around ’87/’88 while I was living in Medford, Oregon. During this time my Dad introduced me to the game of Baseball and in turn introduced me to the family tradition of rooting for the San Diego Padres. In addition, I began to play little league, I began to follow the local Medford A’s (a Minor League affiliate of the A’s) and most importantly, I started collecting Baseball cards. Collecting Baseball cards taught me more about the game, the teams and the players than anyone or anything else ever could have. I bring this up because one of the first teams outside of my beloved Padres and A’s that I remember being fascinated with was the Detroit Tigers. To this day, 1987 Topps is still my favorite Baseball card set of all time and Topps used the wild-eyed Tigers logo on the cards; which I loved. I still think it’s one of the coolest and most unique logos in Baseball history and that’s why I used it as the Tigers logo in this post. In retrospect, it’s kind of odd what young fans of the game are drawn to.
As I got a little bit older, two things related to the Tigers resonated with me. The first being old Tiger Stadium. I seem to remember a lot of nationally broadcasted day games featuring the Tigers when I was a kid. Due to this, I fell in love with an old stadium that I would probably never have the chance to visit. The fact that players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb played there in the early 20th century was fascinating to me. During this time of my childhood, I always imagined myself playing day games in Tiger Stadium for some weird reason, if I were to make it to the big leagues. This obviously never happened but when I watch old footage of games at Tiger Stadium, it still triggers that childhood curiosity which I held on to for so long.
The second thing related to the Tigers that I speak of is Cecil Fielder. When Fielder signed with the Tigers in 1990 after playing the 1989 season in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what was in store for the big guy. I had not seen anybody hit over 50 home runs in my life at that point and when Fielder finished the 1990 season with 51 dingers, it captured my imagination and he quickly became one of my favorite players. In addition to this, after that amazing season Fielder was the star guest at a Baseball card convention in my home town. I got my 1987 Topps Cecil Fielder card signed by him and at that point in my life, it was definitely one of my highlights as I had never gotten an autograph before or been so close to a Major League Baseball player. I still have the card to this day and will never get rid of it.
In a nutshell, these are my feelings and memories related to the Detroit Tigers. I can’t say that I follow them too closely these days, and I definitely rooted against them when they played my A’s in the ALDS last year. With that said, I must admit that I love Jim Leyland as he is one one of my favorite Managers in the game. In addition, watching guys like Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is always a treat. Not too much to say here I suppose, so without further adieu I give you some Detroit Tigers images that I love and would like to share:
As I mentioned above, I love everything about the 1987 Topps Baseball card set. As a little boy, this Sparky Anderson card captured for me what a Manager of a Major League Baseball team should look like: grizzled, white haired, wise beyond his years, and looks like he could be the cool Grandfather you never had. Sparky was always one of my favorite Managers and it was quite saddening to learn of his passing in 2010.
After posting this, I think I’m going to have to dig out my old cards from the 1987 set as it’s literally been two decades since really looking through them.
Growing up and even into my early adult years, I never knew all that much about Hank Greenberg. I knew he was a Hall of Fame first baseman who played the majority of his career with the Tigers, but that’s about where it ended with me. It wasn’t until the early 2000′s when my interest was sparked. This happened after I came across the great documentary entitled “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.” If you have not seen it, I strongly suggest checking it out. I believe it’s currently on Netflix, in addition to other streaming services online.
After watching this film, I immediately learned as much as I could about the “Hebrew Hammer” as he fit right in with many of my interests related to the game as he was a minority who played during Baseball’s “Golden Age.” It also helped that I learned that he had a connection to the San Diego Padres as he was the General Manager for the Cleveland Indians after his playing days ended and the old Padres of the Pacific Coast League were an affiliate of the Indians for a number of years. Basically what I am getting at is that Hank Greenberg is one of, if not my favorite Detroit Tiger of all time.
A great photo of Cecil Fielder from my childhood watching what I assume is one of his many home runs he crushed during his years with the Tigers. As a kid, I viewed Fielder as a larger than life super hero due to his size and heroics on the Baseball diamond. I can only assume that young kids now days view his son Prince in the same way.
Words can’t describe how cool this is. I can only imagine how bitter Cobb must have been as the game he played for so long quickly changed as America fell in love with Babe Ruth and the home run. If I had a time machine, one of the many Baseball related things I would do is bring Ty Cobb to the present and see how would hang with the modern game and in turn, see what his opinion of it would be. I assume he would be more bitter than ever but he would still somehow make the adjustments to succeed while playing.
But then again, who knows? Maybe he’d turn into a light hitting utility player that no one would ever give a second thought to. These kind of hypothetical discussions and thoughts is what’s great about the game of Baseball.
March 10th, 1977. Mark Fidrych holds a shirt that a fan gave him prior to starting his first game of the Spring. What I would give to have been able to witness The Bird during the prime of his short career. Unfortunately, the closest I will ever get to this is watching THIS video from 1976, which is simply amazing. If you don’t watch this to the end and consider yourself a Baseball fan, you are denying yourself of something that will put a huge smile on your face.