Friday, August 27, 2010

Welcome to Ernie Harwell Park. You might remember it as Tiger Stadium

The infield's footprint is still intact at Michigan & Trumbull.

It was almost a year ago exactly that we watched Tiger Stadium tumble to the ground, and I made the note then that I'd check in on the old place occasionally to see what the city had planned in terms of a monument to mark the location.

So I rode over to Michigan and Trumbull yesterday, and while there are no signs of an official marker, fans and residents have taken it upon themselves to commemorate the place. Some even went so far as to name it; what was once known as Navin Field, Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium now wears a sign declaring it to be Ernie Harwell Park.

A fitting name 

Beyond the fence, past the high weeds that line the perimeter of the property, the infield of what was Tiger Stadium still exists. It's no longer immaculate, but it's there, baths paths and all. People have been gathering every Sunday to maintain the grounds with some lawn-mowing and weed-whacking, just enough to make the field playable. And then they play a little sandlot ball.

When I stopped by, another guy had also visited, and he was standing at home plate with a bucket of baseballs, tossing them up and ripping them into what used to be the outfield. A couple of his bigger hits found their way into weeds more than 300 feet away. When his bucket ran empty, I helped him roam the outfield and collect the balls, and when he returned to home plate to blast them all over again, I offered to pitch him a few.

And so I took the mound at what used to be Tiger Stadium. It was a pretty good lunch hour.

Click here to see Tiger Stadium in its final days.