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Game 79: Twins at Tigers

A little Detroit stadium history to kick off some unusual Sunday morning baseball

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

First Pitch: 11:10 AM CT (storms in the Detroit area pushed the start time back from 12:40 PM CT)

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: TIBN

Know Thine Enemy: Bless You Boys

When the Twins’ 2023 schedule came out, I had this weekend circled as a possible road trip to see the last remaining AL Central stadium I haven’t visited. Those travel plans didn’t quite work out—but let’s take a quick look at Detroit’s baseball stadium history anyway...

Navin Field (1901-1911)

View of Navin Field from Bleachers

Holding just 14,000 “cranks” (fans, in the era’s vernacular), Navin Field was built over cobblestone that sometimes protruded through the infield surface. It did, however, host the first night baseball game in Detroit history and the Tigers of Ty Cobb, “Wahoo” Sam Crawford, & “Wild” Bill Donovan captured three straight AL pennants—1907-1909—though they were denied a World Series crown on each occasion.

Briggs/Tiger Stadium (1912-1999)

MLB Photos Archive Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Opening on the same day as Fenway Park in Boston, Briggs-later-Tiger Stadium held a whopping 52,416 at full capacity. It featured—for a time—an in-play flag pole in CF and was perhaps most notable for a RF upper deck that cantilevered over the RF lower deck. This led to many occasions of outfielders securely camping underneath a fly ball in front of the 325 feet posted dimension only to have it “stolen” by the 315 foot overhang.

Tiger Stadium was where Babe Ruth supposedly (a bit pre-StatCast) hit a 575-foot home run in 1921, where Lou Gehrig voluntarily benched himself in 1939 (ending his then-record consecutive games streak), and where Jack Morris mostly plied his trade. The site hosted All-Star contests in 1941 (featuring a Ted Williams walk-off HR for the AL), 1951, & 1971.

Comerica Park (2000-Present)

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Since the start of the millennium, the Detroit nine have played under the tiger statues (with their light-up eyes) and growling sounds of Comerica Park. Fans needing a momentary respite from the action can take a ride on the baseball-seat ferris wheel. It is the only current ballpark with a dirt strip from the batter’s box to the pitching mound, and twice the power-alley fences have been moved in to play a bit fairer for batsmen.

Comerica hosted the 2005 All-Star Game, was the site of Justin Verlander’s 2007 no-hitter, gave Jim Thome his 600th home run in 2011, and just last year was home to future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera’s 3,000th hit.

Someday I’ll get to Comerica and complete the AL Central ballpark circuit. But today, I’ll have to enjoy Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers from the recliner instead.

Today's Lineups

Edouard Julien - DH Zach McKinstry - RF
Donovan Solano - 1B Spencer Torkelson - 1B
Carlos Correa - SS Kerry Carpenter - DH
Royce Lewis - 3B Javier Baez - SS
Kyle Farmer - 2B Nick Maton - 3B
Willi Castro - LF Andy Ibanez - 2B
Joey Gallo - RF Matt Vierling - LF
Christian Vazquez - C Jake Rogers - C
Michael Taylor - CF Jake Marisnick - CF
Bailey Ober - RHP Michael Lorenzen - RHP