Detroit Tigers tickets

Tiger Stadium

Detroit, Michigan

Tenant: Detroit Tigers (AL)
Opened: April 20, 1912
First night game: June 15,1948
Last Tigers game: September 27, 1999
Demolished: June 30, 2008
Surface: Bluegrass
Capacity: 23,000 (1912); 30,000; (1923); 52,416 (1937)

Architect: Osborn Engineering
Builder: n/a
Owner: City of Detroit
Cost: n/a

Detroit Tigers tickets:

Location: 2121 Trumbull Avenue, in the Corktown neighborhood of downtown Detroit. Left field (NW), Cherry Street, later Kaline Drive, and Interstate 75; third base (SW), National Avenue, later Cochrane Avenue; first base (SE), Michigan Avenue; right field (NE), Trumbull Avenue.

Dimensions: Left field: 345 (1921), 340.58 (1926), 339 (1930), 367 (1931), 339 (1934) 340 (1938), 342 (1939), 340 (1942); left-center: 365 (1942); center field: 467 (1927), 455 (1930), 464 (1931), 459 (1936), 450 (1937), 440 (1938), 450 (1939), 420 (1942), 440 (1944); right-center: 370 (1942), 375 (1982), 370 (current); right field: 370 (1921), 370.91 (1926), 372 (1930), 367 (1931), 325 (1936), 315 (1939), 325 (1942), 302 (1954), 325 (1955); backstop: 54.35 (1954), 66 (1955); foul territory: small.

Fences: All fences: 5 concrete topped by screen; left field 20 (1935), 30 (1937), 10 (1938), 12 (1940), 15 (1946), 12 (1953), 14 (1954), 12 (1955), 11 (1958), 9 (1962); center field: 9 (1940), 15 (1946), 11 (1950), 9 (1953), 14 (1954), 9 (1955); right of flag pole: 7 (1946); right field: 8 (1940), 30 (1944), 10 (1945), 20 (1950), 8 (1953), 9 (1958), 30 (1961), 9 (1962); flag pole: 125 in play (5 feet in front of fence in center field, just left of dead center).

Tiger Stadium opened in 1912, the same day Boston opened Fenway Park, but baseball had been played on the site since 1896, five years before the Tigers or the American League existed. Navin Field, the original name of the park, was built on the site of old Bennett Park. It was named after owner Frank Navin, and it was renamed Briggs Stadium in 1938, two years after Walter Briggs took over the team.

Briggs Stadium was renamed Tiger Stadium in 1961. The National Football League’s Detroit Lions moved in for a few decades, playing two NFL championship games at Tiger Stadium before leaving in 1975 for the nearby Pontiac Silverdome.

Tiger Stadium’s best seats put fans as close to the action as any ballpark in the league. However, some of the lower-deck seats behind third base had their views of both the mound and home plate blocked by posts. In some of the seats, the upper deck blocked one's view of any ball hit in the air.

Tiger Stadium was the playground for the likes of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. Many remember Kirk Gibson homering off Goose Gossage in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series. Before that there was Al Kaline patroling right field and the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course, in the early days, the ballpark hosted the Tigers of Ty Cobb and "Wahoo" Sam Crawford.

There were a few modifications over the years, including various replacements of the center-field scoreboard and a large food court called Tiger Plaza (1993). However, the features that made Tiger Stadium unique remained. For many years, only Tiger Stadium had a flagpole in play (in center field). Its bullpens were set down each line, dugout style. The right field upper deck that hung out over the front row of the lower deck was so distinctive that the Texas Rangers copied the look (without an actual overhang) in 1994 for their new ballpark.

Although plenty of home runs have ended up in Detroit’s right-field upper deck, only a few have traveled over it. Some have landed in the third-deck press box, 82 feet up, and some have made it even higher, out over the third deck’s 94-foot-high roof. Since the upper deck was extended to left and right field in 1938, 19 players have cleared the roof a total of 28 times. All but four of those sluggers - Harmon Killebrew in 1962, Frank Howard in 1968, Cecil Fielder in 1990 and Mark McGwire in 1997 - have hit the ball over the closer right-field roof.

Tiger Stadium had a fan club whose goal was to keep baseball at the same site and in the same stadium. Members drew up their own plan for refurbishing Tiger Stadium, called the Cochrane Plan, but it was more or less ignored by the team and the city. A visit to the area around the stadium would help one understand why the team wanted to leave. Detroit is largely in ruins and about the only part of the city that looks to have any chance of thriving in the near future is the immediate downtown area.

On July 24, 2001 an estimated crowd of 1,500 people attended a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League game between the Motor City Marauders and the Lake Erie Monarchs. It was the first game played at the ballpark since the Tigers last game on September 27, 1999. Michigan & Trumbull, LLC, a local sports management company which organized the game, is seeking a short-term lease in order to bring a Frontier League franchise to Detroit to play games on nights when the Tigers are out of town.

View from Michigan and Trumbull

Tiger Stadium Trivia:

  • On the same site as old Bennett Park (1896-1911) but turned around 90 degrees.
  • First named for Tigers owner Frank Navin. Renamed by then owner Walter Briggs in 1938. Renamed Tiger Stadium in 1961.
  • Sign above the visitors' clubhouse reads: "Visitors’ Clubhouse - No Visitors Allowed."
  • Right-field second deck overhangs the lower deck by 10 feet.
  • Screen in right in 1944 and in 1961 required balls to be hit into the second deck to be home runs.
  • Only double-decked bleachers in the majors; upper deck from left-center to center, lower deck from center to right-center.
  • 125-foot-high flagpole in play in deep center, just to the left of the 440 mark - highest outfield obstacle ever in play in baseball history.
  • The scoreboard now on the left-field fence was originally placed at the 440 mark in dead center in 1961 but was moved when Norm Cash, Al Kaline, and Charlie Maxwell complained that it hindered the batters’ view of the pitch.
  • A string of spotlights is mounted under the right-field overhang to illuminate the warning track, which is shadowed from the normal light standards.
  • Cobb’s Lake was an area in front of home plate that was always soaked with water by the groundskeepers to slow down Ty Cobb’s bunts.
  • When slugging teams came to visit, Manager Ty Cobb had the groundskeepers put in temporary bleachers in the outfield so that long drives would be only ground-rule doubles.
  • Double-decked from first to third base in winter of 1923-1924. Capacity increased in winter of 1935-36 by double-decking the right-field stands, and in the winter of 1937-1938 by double-decking both the left-field stands and the center-field bleachers.
  • In the 1930s and 1940s there was a 315 marker on the second deck in right field.
  • In 1942 and 1943 the center field distance was only 420 feet. The notches just left and right of dead center were closer than 420, at 405 feet.
  • Second-to-last classic old ballpark to put in lights, in 1948 (before Wrigley Field).
  • Home to the Detroit Lions (NFL) until they moved into the Silverdome in 1975.
  • Norm Cash cleared the roof four times in 13 months in 1961 and 1962, including twice in three days in July 1962. Mickey Tettleton did it twice in a week in 1991, and Mickey Mantle managed to do it three times as a visiting player.
  • Hosted the 1971, 1951 and 1941 All-Star games.
  • Reggie Jackson’s mammoth shot in the 1971 All-Star Game hit a transformer above the roof in right.
  • Babe Ruth hit his 700th career homer here on July 13, 1934 before there was an upper deck. The ball cleared the right-field stands and rolled several hundred feet down a street. Eight years earlier he had paid $20 to a youngster who retrieved one of his home run balls which had rolled more than 800 feet from home plate.
  • Tiger Stadium was sold to the city of Detroit on January 1, 1978 for $1.00 and leased back for 30 years. The city received a $5 million federal grant and issued $8.5 million in bonds to pay for renovations, including replacement of the old green wooden seats with blue plastic seats.
  • The movie "61*" was filmed here in August 2000, after the Tigers had moved to Comerica Park. For Yankee Stadium scenes, a special green paint was applied to the infield seats, and a partial third deck and 1961 Bronx skyline were added digitally in post-production. After filming, the green paint was washed off with a high-pressure water hose, revealing their original blue color.

Tiger Stadium interior panorama

More on Tiger Stadium:

Recommended Reading (bibliography):

  • Tiger Stadium by Irwin J. Cohen.
  • Corner to Copa: The last Game at Tiger Stadium and the First at Comerica Park by the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Final Season: Fathers, Sons, and One Last Season in a Classic American Ballpark by Tom Stanton.
  • Home Sweet Home: Memories of Tiger Stadium by the Detroit News.
  • A Place for Summer: A Narrative History of Tiger Stadium by Richard Bak.
  • Queen of Diamonds: The Tiger Stadium Story by Michael Betzold and Ethan Casey.
  • Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
  • The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic (Revised Edition) by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
  • City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
  • Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
  • Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
  • Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
  • Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
  • The Story of America's Classic Ballparks (VHS).

Tiger Stadium seating diagramBennett ParkComerica Park

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IMAGES:

Aerial view of Tiger Stadium © 1999 by Mike Smith.
View inside Tiger Stadium © 1999 by Ira Rosen.
View from Michigan and Trumbull © 1999 by Paul Munsey.
Tiger Stadium interior panorama © 1999 by Paul Munsey.

Updated July 2008

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