Monday, May 20, 2024

The Corner Ballpark

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The last time that I attended an event at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull was on September 27, 1999 when the Detroit Tigers defeated the Kansas City Royals. It was the last game ever at Tiger Stadium and Robert Fick hit a grand slam for the ages which turned out to be the final home run ever at this iconic ballpark.

My long-time colleague George Eichorn covered that event and we returned for this one.

If there was ever a day that I could freeze in time, this day was it.

There was a time that I drove around Michigan and Trumbull and saw the stadium half demolished as Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ernie Harwell did everything possible to find ways to redevelop the stadium. Unfortunately for Ernie, none of his ideas never came to fruition.

For years, voluntary ground crews took care of the property and the right-field fence remained. 

When the Police Athletic League got involved, things changed for the better. In a combined redevelopment effort with the city of Detroit, the two parties worked together to build apartments around the newly constructed field and all of a sudden, this would be a great way to preserve sports history in the venue that was once home to the Tigers and Lions.

The pictures in this story say it all.

The NFL had an event that promoted youth football and there were flag football games. 

This would also turn out to be a great media opportunity for the media to interview some of the top prospects at the NFL Draft. Commissioner Roger Goodell was talking to the fans and even gave his jacket away to a fan that didn’t have a jacket.

I enjoyed walking around the park and seeing photos of the memories of the Tigers and the Lions. It was a really cold day at The Corner Ballpark. The memories I had overshadowed what turned out to be the coldest day of the seven that we were in town.

There is a precedent that when stadiums get torn down, they become parking lots.

But there are other cases when cities get them right and find a way continue the sports traditions.

When the city of Miami tore down the iconic Orange Bowl, they replaced it with the Marlins permanent home, Loan Depot Park.

I just acknowledged what happened in Detroit with The Corner Ballpark.

Milwaukee has done a nice job replacing County Stadium with a dynamite Little League Ballpark called Helfaer Field which is rented out for multiple uses.

The old Yankee Stadium was replaced by ball fields across of street from the new venue.

In Arlington, the former Texas Rangers Ballpark was renovated for the United Football League.

Finally, in Atlanta, Turner Field was the original stadium for the Summer Olympics, renovated for the Atlanta Braves and remodeled again for Georgia State Football.

With the newer stadiums, nobody wants to see tax dollars go to waste as stadiums get outdated quickly. It’s understandable that the older stadiums which can’t get preserved ultimately succumb to the wrecking ball or get imploded.

In the case of the Corner Ballpark, the city of Detroit got it right!

The venue where the Detroit Lions won four NFL Championships came to life on Wednesday, April 24 and it was great returning for another memory almost 25 years later. It was great to see the NFL return to its roots.

I’m sure that a lot of the newer generation wouldn’t know much about the past, but at least they had an opportunity to be a part of the 2024 NFL Draft Festivities.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. He can be reached on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth. Feel free to subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his broadcasts.

Also, Scott wrote a book called “Lessons From The Microphone” which mainly talks about Old School Media VS New School Media. It’s available on Amazon/Kindle and Barnes & Noble.

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