October 06, 2014

What It's All About

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie … 

My friend, Chris Brown, reminded me yesterday that being a Tigers fan is about so much more than winning and losing. His text message which became a Facebook post really highlighted what it's about.

Chris Brown and his wife, Kendra, at an ALCS game. 
FOR THE COMPLAINERS:Tigers baseball is about summer in Michigan... It's about time with your friends and family and your love for the game. It's listening to a ball game with your dad in the driveway on a summer night... It's talking to your grandpa about what their chances are at winning the division... It's your mom calling you at 10:30 pm after a walk off home run in the 11th... It's teaching your wife how to fill out your score card so you can make a run to the bathroom... It's watching a late west coast game with your new born baby girl... It's texting a far away friend throughout the game because you can't watch it together... It's about just being at the ballpark, taking everything in, from the green grass to the skyline and everything in-between... It's about the awe of watching larger-than-life players take batting practice, finding your seat and being in the moment with your hotdog (mustard only), a pop, peanuts, a scorecard, and your glove... I love the Detroit Tigers more than most other fans; my wife thinks I'm slightly crazy. Going to a game today gives me the same excitement I got when I went to my first game when I was 7, and when they lost 119 games in 2003... I'm more competitive than many other people, but the Detroit Tigers mean so much more than being thrilled with a win or disappointed after a loss. It's so much more. If you don't understand that you're missing out.

It's Baseball, Mark Fidrych, and '76

Baseball to me is Mark Fidrych taking over Michigan in the Summer of '76. That was my baseball awakening. Of all the things I've saved, I sure do wish I had a couple of those t-shirts my mom made me with the iron on from the Oakland Press. Baseball is going to Grandma and Grandpa's and having the game actually be television but listening to Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey instead of the television guys. Baseball is the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the first World Series I really remember — in 1979 — and loving their hats that were different from everyone else's hats. Baseball is going to the World Series in 1984 (and 2006 and 2012) and cheering on the Tigers. Baseball is Opening Day, every year. Baseball is the pennant race.

A short postseason in 2014

Gibby and Kaline

Baseball is meeting Matt Nokes in the midst of his sudden and great rookie year and getting an autograph that he had to come back off the team bus to sign. It's watching Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell play together throughout your childhood and not realizing how special that really is. It's Kirk Gibson. It's Al Kaline. It's a young boy confusing the two. Baseball is taking people to Detroit for their first time, showing them some of what the city is all about, and taking them to Lafayette Coney after the game and enjoying a Vernors and couple of Coney's.

Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit, Michigan

Comerica Park

Baseball is nostalgia. The Seventh Inning Stretch. The National Anthem. "Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues" is an anthem from 2006. Baseball is awesome. Baseball in Detroit has history — it's Tiger Stadium, still a ballfield thanks to the Navin Field Grounds Crew. Baseball is Comerica Park finally having tradition with some playoff action in 2006. It took several years before the new place was home.

Courtney and Amber

Baseball is taking Courtney and Amber to their first game in 2000 and having them wonder if it was a good idea. Baseball is taking both girls to special games and enjoying the ALCS with Courtney, even though the Tigers eventually lost. Baseball is turning Lori, a lifelong Lions and football fan, into a Tiger fan (even though baseball really should end in September, according to her). Baseball is going to Lakeland and taking in practices and games with Mom and Dad. Baseball is taking Grandpa to a few games later in his life and talkin' baseball all the way to Detroit and back to Clarkston. It's having Dad tell me, "You know, Grandpa said you really know how to get around Detroit. He was impressed."

Courtney and Amber, early 2000s

Tiger Stadium

Baseball is walking into Tiger Stadium for the first time, second time, 10th time, 25th time (you get the picture) and being mesmerized by the green grass, the aroma of Ball Park Franks, and the long walk to find your seats that might be blocked by a large girder. It's the biggest heart breaker of all. It can provide the best memories, too. It's, "Good afternoon everyone this is George Kell along with Al Kaline. We're coming to you from sunny Detraught."

It's Ernie Harwell, who never got the chance to say, "A young fan from Elk Rapids caught that one."

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