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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A nostalgic Tigers' tale

I have never taken my relationship with the Detroit Tigers lightly.
It’s been a long-term relationship; a lot longer than most marriages last in this country.
It was probably 50 years ago when I got to my first Tigers’ game.
Dad would take us to a handful of games each season.
As young boys, we’d wear our Little League uniforms and our gloves and wait for the foul ball or the home run that really never did arrive.
We’ve witnessed some great moments, the stuff of scrapbooks and soaring memories.
We were there the final day of the regular season in 1967, when the Tigers needed to take both ends of a doubleheader against California.
They won one, finishing a game back of American League-pennant winning Boston.
We were there a handful of times the next year during that magical season when the Tigers did win the pennant and later, the World Series.
We could not get tickets to the ’68 Series, but I remember sitting in the gym at Walled Lake Junior High listening to the Tigers take on the Cardinals that fall. Obviously Mr. Lamb, the gym teacher, was a Tigers’ fan, too.
We saw some great players from other teams, too. The Yankees with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. The Red Sox, with Carl Yaztrzemski and Carlton Fisk. The Twins, with Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew. The Orioles, with Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson.
My brother, Bill, loved Willie Horton. When Willie first came up with the team, Bill absolutely papered his bedroom with newspaper clippings about the young phenom from Detroit.
Later on, when I got into the sports writing business, I had plenty of chances to cover the Tigers. I was there in the press box when the Tigers clinched the pennant in 1984, and watched along with a packed Tiger Stadium when Kirk Gibson launched his historic home run against the Padres.
I always get a little nostalgic when I think about those early days with the Tigers. My brother, Bill, passed away a handful of years ago, felled by a rare neurological condition. My dad fell victim to colo-rectal cancer more than a decade ago.
I’m a father with four kids. I am sorry to say that we have not been to enough Tigers’ games over the years.
But we went last fall, and prior to the game, we watched “Field of Dreams” at the Fox Theatre. My mom was along with us. It was a great night and it brought back a lot of memories.
Especially when Kevin Kostner and his dad started playing catch. I could not help myself. I started weeping uncontrollably.
There’s something about baseball. There is something about the Tigers. Bless you boys in 2011.


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