Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Opening Day and other memories

There’s a picture tacked up in my cubicle.
It’s of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey. It is autographed by Ernie.
I am not much for autographs. They are nothing more than signatures as far as I am concerned.
But this is a little different. I love the photo. It’s Ernie and Paul in the broadcast booth at Tiger Stadium. They are looking toward the photographer and the field occupies the background.

I like it because it brings back memories. Not just of Ernie and Paul, but of baseball at the old stadium. Now I am not the nostalgic type. Tiger Stadium’s time had come. In its later manifestation, it was peeling and flaking and walking in the dank concourse was like traversing a dungeon. Also, how many poles can you find yourself behind as you watch a game?
But my affection for the place came mainly because it was part of my growing up. The first time I walked into Tiger Stadium, I was wearing a little league uniform and a Rawlings mitt on my right hand. The last time I walked in, I had kids of my own. In between, there was plenty of time spent in the stadium; from box seats to the center field bleachers to the press box. I saw Mark Fidrych and Ron LeFlore and Al Kaline and Norm Cash. I saw Carl Yaztrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson. I ripped out some sod in ’68 and was in the press box when Kirk Gibson launched those home runs in ’84. I was on a bus heading back to the Renaissance Center when the car was overturned and in flames with Bubba hefting the bottle of Jack Daniels or whatever he was drinking in that infamous photo.
So there you go. There were peanuts bought from the guy who used to hawk them at Michigan and Trumbull and cheeseburgers scarfed down at Nemos. There were beers downed at Hoot Robinson’s place both before and after the game.
I am not sure I loved Tiger Stadium as much as what it represented. It was summer and it was growing up and it was being a grown up.
That is why I love the photo of Ernie and Paul. It represents so much more. The Tigers will play their home opener against the Yankees Friday at Comerica Park.
More memories will be made. You can put your signature on that.


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