Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Mini Review: The Final Season
If you ever attended a game at Tiger Stadium, you no doubt have an opinion of the now demolished ballpark. Lots of people didn't like it there. Obstructed seats, not enough bathrooms, and an outdated design are complaints I've heard. Others just loved the place. The history, the closeness to the field, the overhang in right field. Myself, I loved it there...much more than Comerica Park which I really don't care for. My dad, however, hated it there. He thought it was a dump. Tiger Stadium inspired some sort of feeling in everyone that passed through the gates. It had too many ghosts living there for it not to.
In Tom Stanton's 2001 book, "The Final Season", Tiger Stadium certainly is inspriring to the author. Stanton attended every home ballgame in 1999 in his quest to write a book on the old ballpark and cover it's final year. And yes, he has a blurb about every game, mostly losing ones, that the Tigers played in '99, but this story is more a love story than a baseball reference. It's a story about families and how Tiger Stadium brought them together over the years.
Stanton spends a lot of time talking about his own family going back generations and their connections to the old park. He talks to parking lot attendents, vendors, fans, and even legends like Ernie Harwell (who, if possible, you will like even more after reading this book) about their families and experiences in Tiger Stadium. There are history lessons on several of the all-time greats to play ball at Michigan and Trumbull. Tiger greats like Cobb, Kaline, Horton, and Trammell are all represented. So are many Tigers that you may not have heard of that played over the years.
He paints a picture of Tiger Stadium with his words that brought back many memories of the park that I hadn't thought of in years. I remembered the first time my dad brought me there, the foul ball I caught years later, the time I flipped out, Randy Quaid in Major League 2-style, after a ninth inning collapse. I remember how a friend of mine would tear up when we exited the freeway, came up the hill, and the stadium came into view. (I used to make fun of him for it, but I did it myself at the last game I attended there, knowing the old girl was being closed.)
Anyway, it's a great book to read for those of you that want to reflect...not on the sub-par '99 team the Tigers had...but on a park that housed everyone from Kell, Greenberg, and Lolich, all the way to guys like Fick, Kapler, and Ausmus. If I have a complaint about the book, it is that Stanton spent a bit too much time on his family's history. But then again, that is what the park did to him. It made him think about his family and how the Tigers and Tiger Stadium brought them together over the years.
Check it out if you get a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.