Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Detroit Tigers Play Last Home Game At Tiger Stadium September 27, 1999

On this day in Baseball History September 27, 1999: The Detroit Tigers defeated the Kansas City Royals by a score of 8-2 in their last home game at the ballpark located at 2121 Trumbull Avenue once known as Navin Field, later changed to Briggs Stadium, before finally being called Tiger Stadium.

Tiger Stadium opened the same day as Fenway Park, April 20, 1912 which was five days after the sinking of the Titanic. Tiger Stadium was the second ballpark to sit on the site. The article Tiger Stadium by Scott Ferkovich from the SABR Baseball Biography Project describes the first ballpark as so:
Photo Courtesy of
Detroit1701.org
The Tigers’ new home was actually the second ballpark built at “The Corner.” From 1896 to 1911, they played their games in rickety wooden Bennett Park. Prior to that, the plot of land in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood had been a combination hay market and dog pound. Bennett Park had been built when the Tigers were in Ban Johnson’s Western League. In 1901, Johnson changed the circuit’s name to the American League, and declared it a second major league, in direct competition with the established National League. The Tigers played host to three World Series in Bennett Park, from 1907 to 1909. Starting in 1909, however, with the construction of Shibe Park in Philadelphia, closely followed by Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, a new wave of steel-and-concrete baseball palaces were being built. It was clear that Bennett Park had outlived its usefulness, and Frank Navin, principal owner of the Tigers, wanted his club to have a brand-new stadium that would allow it to compete with other teams.
The article Tiger Stadium by Dan Austin of the Historic Detroit website states:
Tiger Stadium was designed by the father and son team of Frank C. Osborn and Kenneth H. Osborn. Frank Osborn founded Osborn Engineering in Cleveland in 1892. The company pioneered in the use of reinforced concrete and built municipal and industrial facilities throughout the country. The firm designed more than 100 sports stadiums, including Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York. Bernard Green of the same firm also designed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Photo Courtesy of Detroit1701.org
The yard was expanded several times and had its name changed to Briggs Stadium in 1938 — the same year it was expanded to a capacity of 53,000. In 1961, a scoreboard was installed in center field, but it was later moved to left field after hitters complained that it was in their line of sight. That same year, 1961, also was the year the ballpark finally became Tiger Stadium. For many Detroiters, however, the place was known simply as The Corner.
The Austin article also states the following:
In his farewell remarks following the final game, Ernie Harwell noted that the Corner hosted 6,873 regular season games, 35 postseason contests and three All-Star Games — in 1941, 1951 and 1971. The location was unique because, as a charter member of the American League, every American League starting player from 1900-1999 — from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Alvaro Espinoza to Jim Walewander — played at Michigan and Trumbull. There also were 10 no-hitters pitched at Tiger Stadium, but only two were by Tigers: Virgil Trucks in 1952 and George Mullin in 1910.
The 100 millionth fan entered Tiger Stadium on July 6, 1994.
Baseball wasn't the only sport played at the ballpark. The first football game was held there on Oct. 9, 1921, when Detroit (also called the Tigers) squeaked by Dayton, 10-7. The Detroit Panthers would roam the Corner from 1925 to 1926 before the Lions set up shop at Briggs Stadium in 1938. Except for 1940, the Lions called the Corner home until Nov. 28, 1974, when they lost, 31-27 to Denver.
The stadium became a State of Michigan Historic Site in 1975 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Though it Tiger Stadium was partially demolished, the field itself still remains at the Corner. Volunteers currently mow its lawn to keep the grass at the Corner looking pristine as it did during game days.

As recent as July of this year, things look positive for the old Tiger Stadium site. According to the article Old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit moves a step closer to getting a new baseball field by David Muller from the MLive website dated July 15, 2014 the plans call for:
The Detroit Economic Development Corporation approved a plan on Monday that would preserve the baseball field at the former Tiger Stadium site in Corktown while turning a large piece of the property over to Detroit Police Athletic League, a youth sports organization.
George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Development Corporation (DEGC) was quoted in the article Detroit PAL moves ahead with development plan for old Tiger Stadium site said in a statement by Kirk Pinho from Crain's Detroit Business dated July 16, 2014:
“Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had an idea to preserve the site’s place in baseball’s past; Detroit PAL works with young baseball players to give them a better future. Together they have the opportunity to create a very active place. With the mixed-use development we also expect, this site will be significant in the continuing revitalization of Corktown.”
The field might no longer have the men wearing the "Old English D" on their uniforms running on its grass and dirt. But hopefully this field will be used by youth leagues and kids for generations to come.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Detroit Tigers Attendance, Stadiums, and Park Factors from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the post Tiger Stadium from the Ballparks of Baseball website
- Click here to access the post Bennett Park/Navin Field/ Briggs Stadium/Tiger Stadium: At the corner of Michigan and Trumbull southwest of downtown Detroit from the Detroit 1701.org website
- Click here to access the article Closing Down Tiger Stadium in 1999 from the MISC Baseball blogpage dated August 22, 2010
- Click here to access the article Tiger Stadium by Scott Ferkovich from the SABR Baseball Biography Project
- Click here to access the article Old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit moves a step closer to getting a new baseball field by David Muller from the MLive website dated July 15, 2014
- Click here to access the article Detroit PAL moves ahead with development plan for old Tiger Stadium site said in a statement by Kirk Pinho from Crain's Detroit Business dated July 16, 2014