Sunday, April 22, 2012
Individual Tiger Memories
We have been having the same conversation about Freddie Lynn since I was 13. He should have stayed. These are the things you think about when your entire life is flashing before your eyes. Football is more popular, basketball is more marketable, hockey is more exciting, soccer means more throughout the world. But baseball has a way of making you think about everything that ever happened to you, every conversation you ever had, every place you ever lived, everything.
At least with me, that couldn’t be more true. I love football, college and pro, but have never really felt any real attachment to the players of my teams for some reason. My fandom of basketball and hockey comes and goes. But with baseball, my love for the sport has never waned, even with the Tigers being dreadful for the majority of my watching the team. And neither have the attachments and memories that I associate with so many players. I was at Comerica Park for the 1984 Tigers reunion. That was awesome. But if the Tigers were to ever have a celebration of the team’s history like Boston just did…I would do anything to be there for it.
There have been so many Tigers over the years that have left lasting impressions on me. Obviously, with a majority of them, there’s more than one great memory, but most have one clear moment that pops into my mind first. I’d like to take a break from complaining about Inge/Raburn/Valverde/etc for a day and share a few with you, in no particular order.
Alan Trammell: The last week of the ’87 season, standing at home plate while a sold out Tiger Stadium chanted “MVP” during his at bats.
Chet Lemon: The intro to the old PASS Tigers broadcasts. Silly, but I used to love that intro with Chester batting and would sit on my grandmother's floor in front of the TV for so many games and throw a fit if I missed the intro.
Bobby Higginson: My estranged best friend and I making up after a fight by leaping up and hugging each other in a bar after a Higgy walk off.
Magglio Ordonez: The feeling of elation and joy along with the rest of Comerica when he hit the homer to send the Tigers to the World Series in ’06.
Joel Zumaya: Joel jumping into the crowd after Magglio’s homer, being a foot from my face, and us screaming “FUCK YEAH” at each other.
Placido Polanco: Jumping for joy rounding the bases after Magglio’s homer. (Okay, no more Magglio ones.)
Carlos Guillen: His last great Tiger moment, taking Jered Weaver deep and staring his ass down.
Jamie Walker: “HOLY SHEEPSHIT!” That was his response after asking me how much I paid for a beer at Tigerfest in 2004.
Travis Fryman: The only clear memory I have of going to a Mud Hens game as a kid. My dad thought Scott Lusador would be a star one day. I told him that I thought Fryman would be. Rogo 1, Rogo Senior, 0.
Ivan Rodriguez: Playing second base when Polanco got hurt in a game in ’06. Not sure why, but it made me love him more.
Tom Brookens: Had to catch in a game in ’85 when Sparky burned through all of his catchers in the game. 8 year old Rogo thought it was hysterical seeing little Tom catch and his mustache sticking out through the catcher’s mask.
Dave Bergman: I don’t remember the year, but Bergman is the only Tiger I’ve ever seen pull off the hidden ball trick. I’ve been desperate to see it again. Prince, get this done.
Doyle Alexander: In ’87, I used to imitate his pitching delivery in my backyard because I couldn’t figure out how he was getting so many guys out.
Frank Tanana: Threw an eephus pitch in a late ‘80’s game that had my Dad laughing on a rare day that he watched a game with me. Again, I was off to the back yard to imitate it.
Paul Bako: Hit the first foul ball I ever caught in a game at Tiger Stadium.
Alex Avila: Second foul ball, obviously this one was at Comerica.
Aubrey Huff: Walkoff homer against the Blue Jays. Only memorable because I was there with my old roommate…a Blue Jays fan.
Miguel Cabrera: The walkoff against Chicago last year. Amazing ending to one of my favorite games ever.
Ryan Raburn: The homer that led to Miguel’s walkoff.
Brandon Inge: His walkoff last year after returning from Triple A. Even I had a grin on my face after that one. Little shit.
Armando Galarraga: The look on his face when Jim Joyce ruled “safe”.
Damion Easley: Watching the game with a friend and seeing him hit for the cycle. We went nuts.
Todd Jones: Blowing a save at Tiger Stadium and me losing my cool, climbing the left field fence, and threatening to kill him, before being pulled down by a friend. Sorry, Todd.
Darrell Evans: Hitting his 40th home run at the age of 38 in ’87. I remember being so impressed that a guy that old could hit that many homers. Today, being two weeks away from turning 35, I find that thought less amusing.
Kyle Farnsworth: Tackling the shit out of Jeremy Affeldt in an ’05 brawl.
Cecil Fielder: Hitting #50. I still have the newspaper saved somewhere.
Nook Logan: Watching him hit at the CoPa one afternoon when my buddy next to me yelled out “C’mon Spook!” I freaked out and he didn’t understand why. When I explained how racist that was, he then freaked out, having never made the connection before yelling it. Lesson: Rhyming stuff for no reason is not funny. Also: White people are stupid.
Austin Jackson: The catch he made in the Galarraga game barely beats out throwing the runner out at home last year to extend Valverde’s streak. Both were amazing “OH JACKSON” moments.
Kirk Gibson: That at bat against Goose Gossage in ‘84. I didn’t see it live, but the tape of it with Sparky yelling at Gibby is burned in my memory.
Kenny Rogers: The emotion he showed on the mound in the ’06 Playoffs as he willed himself to excellence.
Jack Morris: Kind of a cheat, but his 10 inning shutout as a Twin in Game 7 of the World Series is the most awesome pitching performance I’ve ever seen. Jack was and is “Always a Tiger” to me.
Justin Verlander: Watching his second no-hitter with my son…and that little shit not caring and wanting to return to his video game. I hope to rub that in his face as he gets older and starts enjoying baseball more.
Mike Maroth: One-hitting the Yankees in ‘04. There have been very few Tigers I have wanted to see succeed more than Mike after he fell on the sword for the team in ’03. One of my favorite games I’ve ever watched.
Lance Parrish: Imitating his swing and mannerisms in Little League in 4th grade when I was a catcher for the first time.
Walt Terrell: Losing a no-hitter in the 9th inning with two outs against the Angels in ‘86. I was freaking out and watching the game with my grandmother thinking I would see my first no-hitter. Instead, Wally Joyner broke it up and made me hate him for the rest of my childhood.
Carlos Pena: Hitting three homers in a game at Cleveland. I was there and was elated…until the Tigers found a way to blow the game.
Mickey Tettleton: Getting yelled at by my baseball coach for doing the Tettleton stance in a game.
Dmitri Young: Hitting 3 homers on Opening Day in ’05. Was awesome until I blacked out drinking…
Sparky Anderson: So many moments. But now, it’s the ’84 reunion. Before the game, we were told that random ex-players would be at certain areas of the ballpark. My friends and I walked over and who do we see? Sparky. He looked frail, but had the biggest smile on his face and still seemed so full of life laughing with his old players and the fans. And though it probably didn’t happen, when I yelled a “Love ya, Sparky” at him, it almost seemed like we locked eyes and he smiled. Whatever, it was still one of those moments. A year later, he would pass away.
So that’s the ones off the top of my head. I feel kind of weird rattling that many off, now that I look at the list. But that’s baseball. That’s the Tigers to me. I hate to admit it, but Simmons was right.
You just don’t get that in any other sport.