Baseball had been played on the site of now named Tiger Stadium since 1896. Back then, it was called Bennet Field, and in 1912 a stadium was built and named Navin Field, after team owner, Frank Navin. In 1938 Walter Briggs took over the team and renamed the stadium, Briggs Stadium. It wasn’t until 1961 that it was given the beloved name, Tiger Stadium.
Tiger Stadium offered some of the most unique experiences of any ballpark ever built. It was the last of the ballparks to have a totally enclosed lower and upper deck (minus the teams playing in a dome, of course). It was the only park that had a flag pole, in the field of play. In right field, the upper deck hung out of the field 10 feet. This caused a lighting problem for the part of the field under the upper deck, so they strung lights underneath the upper deck to light the field below.
One of Tiger Stadium's most famous highlights came in the 1971 All-Star game. Reggie Jackson hit a home run that hit the light transformers high above the right field fence. Any reference to Reggie Jackson and this highlight is usually included.
The Detroit Lions played their home games in Tiger Stadium for a few decades, before moving on the the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975. Tiger Stadium also hosted many concerts. One of the most famous ones was when KISS kicked off their 1996 reunion tour in Tiger Stadium.
September 27, 1999 marked the last Tigers game played in the stadium. The next year, the Tigers moved to the new Comerica Park, located a few blocks away. Robert Fick hit the last home run ever at Tiger Stadium. After the game, all of the old Tiger players were introduced on the field and home plate was dug up and transferred to Comerica Park the next year.
Today, Tiger Stadium sits empty. The city of Detroit is now taking bids for the demolition of the stadium. Many citizen groups have formed to save Tiger Stadium. Some plans include bringing a minor league team in to play there, or a woman’s baseball team. But my favorite has to be the idea to turn it into a big apartment complex. Whatever happens to the stadium that sits at the corner of Michigan and Trumball, it will be missed. They just don’t build them like that anymore.
Editor's note: Tiger Stadium was finally demolished, but for a small part of the office space behind where home plate had been, in 2008.