Stories indexed with the term ‘Detroit Tigers’

Column: Why Jim Leyland’s Way Worked

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

When you’re 68, working in a young man’s game, announcing your retirement is not a surprise. But Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a few underappreciated qualities that are worth remembering.

Jim Leyland was a baseball man to the core. Raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, the son of a glassworker, he grew up wanting to do one thing: Play baseball.

He was good, very good, so the Tigers signed him up to play catcher in their minor league system. But just to get to the majors, you need to be great – and after seven years battling to get to the big leagues, Leyland realized he wasn’t great. Not as a player, at least.

So he decided to become a manager, and worked his way up from Detroit’s lowest minor league team to its highest. That climb took him from Bristol, Virginia, to Clinton, Iowa, to Montgomery, Alabama, then Lakeland, Florida, and finally Evansville, Indiana – Detroit’s top farm club. [Full Story]

Column: Detroit Fans Might Party Like It’s 1935

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Once in a while something happens that is so unusual, even those who don’t normally pay attention have to stop and take notice.

Halley’s Comet, for example, only comes along once every 75 years. Man has landed on the moon just six times in the entire history of the universe. And Lindsay Lohan goes to jail – no, wait, that happens almost every week.

Well, this week, Detroit sports fans got Halley’s Comet, a moon landing, and a clean and sober Lindsay Lohan all wrapped up into one: The Tigers clinched the American League Central Division, and even more shockingly, the Lions won their first three games.

That’s right: It’s September 30, and both the Tigers and the Lions are in first place. Go find a newspaper – if your town still has one – pull out the standings, and get them laminated. This might not happen again in our lifetimes. [Full Story]

Balancing Ann Arbor, Detroit – and a Vision


[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks, like this one, also appear on The Chronicle's website.]

Dante Chinne Patchwork Nation

Dante Chinni, co-athor of "Our Patchwork Nation." That's a Tigers cap he's wearing, and it's not accidental.

“I don’t want to be another city. I resent the fact that we are compared to other cities when projects are being proposed.”

That was Ali Ramlawi, owner of the Jerusalem Garden on South Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor, addressing the April 4, 2011 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council. He was criticizing the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, and advocating against a proposed conference center and hotel project on the Library Lot – the council voted the project down later that evening.

“Ann Arbor will change … but it won’t become Detroit.”

That was Dante Chinni, while riding the the teeter totter on my front porch last Thursday afternoon. Chinni has made it part of his job to compare communities like Ann Arbor – Washtenaw County, actually – to other places in the country.

Who is Dante Chinni? And why should Ann Arbor care what he thinks?

On his website, Chinni describes himself as a “a card-carrying member of the East Coast Media Industrial Complex.” The part of his job that lets him compare one place to another – in a statistically sophisticated way – is a project Chinni conceived called Patchwork Nation. It’s funded by the Knight Foundation. The effort has already produced a book, which he co-authored with James Gimpel: “Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth about the ‘Real’ America.”

Washtenaw County is featured in the chapter that introduces readers to the concept of a “Campus and Careers” community type. The classification, as well as a read through Dante’s Talk, confirm that mostly what defines Ann Arbor – at least for people on the outside looking in – is its place as the home of the University of Michigan. And certainly for people on the inside, it’s difficult to argue that UM isn’t currently the single most important institution in the community.

But some insiders – and by this I mean not just people who live, work and play here, but actual Ann Arbor insiders – are starting to float the question of what else Ann Arbor might aspire to be besides home to “the most profound educational institution in the Midwest.” [Full Story]

Column: Loyalty for Lakeland

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Almost all of the major league baseball’s 30 teams have moved their spring training camps in the past three decades, and fully half of them now play in Arizona. Stay-at-home stalwarts like the Cincinnati Reds trained in Tampa for 52 years before moving to Plant City in 1988, then to Sarasota a decade later, then finally to Goodyear, Arizona, last year.

Even the Los Angeles Dodgers, who created Dodgertown 62 years ago in Vero Beach to provide a safe haven for Jackie Robinson and other black players, also bolted for Arizona last year.

Baseball teams have been city-swapping their spring training sites like swingers in a – well, a bad movie about swingers, I guess.

In this permissive environment, the Detroit Tigers stand as a pillar of fidelity. Except for three years during World War II, the Tigers have trained in Lakeland, Florida every year since 1934. That’s 74 seasons, by far the longest marriage in the major leagues. [Full Story]

Column: For Better and Worse

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

And so, it’s done. The Detroit Tigers’ once promising season ended Tuesday in a cataclysmic collapse.

In the American League’s Central Division, Sports Illustrated had picked the Tigers to finish next to last. But by September, they had built a seemingly insurmountable seven-game lead. The team was a tonic for a troubled town in a troubled time. Some pundits even claimed the Tigers season was a metaphor for a Motown renaissance. They started comparing this team to the 1968 Tigers, and the role they played in healing a city that had been torn apart the summer before.

On July 23, 1967, the long-simmering tensions between the police and the people finally boiled over into a full-blown race rebellion – or riot, depending on whom you ask – that lasted five days, the worst in American history.

Enter the 1968 Tigers. [Full Story]

Column: A True Hall of Famer

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

If you grew up in Michigan in the ’70s, as I did, Bob Seger sang the soundtrack to your summers, and Ernie Harwell provided the voiceover.

When I think about our family trips up north, they’re always accompanied by Harwell’s comfortable cadences filling the car. He didn’t simply broadcast baseball games. He turned them into stories. In Harwell’s world, a batter didn’t merely strike out. He was “called out for excessive window shopping,” or “caught standing there like the house by the side of the road.”

Unlike today’s announcers, who prattle on with mindless patter and pointless stats, Harwell treated his listeners to healthy doses of “companionable silences,” something Zen masters refer to as the delicious “space between the notes.” Harwell said the quiet allowed the listeners to enjoy the sounds of the ballpark itself, which he felt was richer than his own voice. [Full Story]

Column: The All-Star Next Door

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Three years ago, a few folks in Dexter, Michigan – a small farming town just west of Ann Arbor – were buzzing with rumors that the only house for sale in their neighborhood might finally be sold.  

I found out from my mom, who found out from her hair-dresser, Chantel Williams, who lived next door to the vacant house, that Shani Inge and her husband, Brandon, had bought it. They moved to Dexter even though it’s a full hour from his office. He works at Comerica Park, in Detroit, playing third base for the Tigers. In fact, he just played in his first All-Star game. But you’d never guess it from the way he looks – and certainly not from the way he acts. [Full Story]

Column: Remembering The Bird

Somedays, one cannot get enough news about a certain event and even though The Chronicle doesn’t have a “sports section,” I was looking for one last tidbit before hitting the sack.

I know for a fact that most of your readers who at one time in their lives traded baseball cards remember the Bird. 1976 is just around the corner in the memories of many of us. [Full Story]