muckraker report

Fans reclaim Tiger Stadium, open imaginations with 1860s baseball, peanuts & Faygo

1860s baseball

Forget the mitts. This is old-time baseball, via the 1860s.

Wearing vintage uniforms, players from the Rochester Grangers and the Walker Tavern Wheels played nine innings of tough “base ball” Sunday at the site of Tiger Stadium, where the diamond and outfield remain intact.

On the same field where Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run, where Kirk Gibson’s home run capped the 1984 World Series and where Denny McLain won his 30th game in 1968, a few dozen fans watched the two vintage teams slug it out. A vendor sold peanuts, hot dogs and Faygo red pop. Children marveled at the field.

The event was made possible by determined volunteers – the Navin Field Grounds Crew – who restored the field in 2010 and has maintained it since.

Despite city efforts to keep people off the field, persistent fans have revived the ballpark. Now families visit the park; people bring their dogs; and others come to play baseball.

Two friendly cops on horseback surveyed the scene Sunday and left without incident.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • http://footstepsgroup.com Al Gay

    Let’s not forget about Mark the Bird Fydrich in 1976. Or ‘Stormin Norman Cash, Willie Horton, Rocky Colavito, Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammel, Lou Whittaker, Sparky Anderson and so many more legends

    • Harlan Worden

      If you enjoyed the Vintage Base Ball game on Sunday and it brought back memories of many great players who graced the field at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan Avenue, then you might be interested in knowing that John Hiller plays the Vintage game with the Mackinaw Island Neversweats. In fact the Grangers will play a match there on July 27.

  • Harlan “General” Worden

    To Daniel Vanneste’s question regarding Afro-Americans playing Vintage Base Ball. There are many different nationalities playing Vintage Base Ball. The team from Grand Rapids has had an Afro-American on their team for a number of years. The Grangers had a gentlemen from Japan playing on their team until he was transferred back to Japan. The team from Midland, MI, had several Native Americans playing for them and there are many more examples across the VBBA network. I would guess it might have been different in the early years because many of the teams were started by men coming home after the Civil War. I know of NO discrimination in the game we play as Gentlemen. None played on Sunday because , to my knowledge, neither team had ever been approached by an Afro-American to join.

    • Daniel Vanneste

      Thanks for the speedy reply and clarification.

  • Harlan Worden, Sr

    Mr.Neavling
    Thank you for taking such great pictures. I hope that you enjoyed the match as much as I always do in every Vintage Base Ball game I have the privilege to participate in. May we both have time to enjoy many more sunny afternoons playing/watching the game the way it was meant to be played —- By gentlemen for fellowship and exercise.

    Harlan “General” Worden

  • http://none bob gajewski

    PLAY BALL!! JUST TO SEE KALINE IN “HIS CORNER” AND JIM BUNNING ON THE MOUND AND CHARLIE MAXWELL DRILLING ONE TO DEEP CENTER AND THE SMELL OF THE BEER THAT STAINED THE CONCRETE FOR OVER 80 YEARS. HYGRADES RED HOTS AND PEANUTS IN PAPER BAGS. AND WHAT ABOUT VAN PATRICK ON THE MIC. JUST TO SEE THE FLOODLIGHTS GLOWING IN THE EARLY DUSK AS YOU NEARED TRUMBULL AND MICHIGAN MADE THIS LITTLE KIDS HEART SKIP. ERNIE HARWELL MIGHT SAY LOOOOONG GONE! BUT IN MY MIND, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THOSE NIGHTS AND SIGHTS OF THE OL’ BALL PARK. TIGER STADIUM…………….THANX FOR THE MEMORIES!

    BOB GAJEWSKI

  • J J Mallmann

    What a great tribute to the game of base ball and to this great setting. I tip my hat to the Navin Field Grounds Crew.

  • Daniel Vanneste

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the historical re-enactors must be celebrating the pre-Jackie Robinson era of baseball.

    • KPR

      Did you even bother to read the title of the story?
      Do you think baseball gloves were introduced to the game along with Jackie?
      Ever seen pics of Babe Ruth in suspenders?

      • Daniel Vanneste

        I don’t see any African-Americans among those playing ball. Why?

  • http://www.dennymclain17.com Denny McLain

    Guys I wish I could have been there………..Great time and spirit………………….Wonderful memories

  • Sarah Swart

    I am thrilled to discover that the field lives on.

  • Jennifer

    This is just awesome! I hope this continues all summer!

  • Peetah

    These photos are perfect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.t.feret John T. Feret

    This is exactly why every scheme to build anything but a park with a baseball diamond is a horrible mistake.