Before You Go. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press (or "Freep") websites, especially their weather pages, should be consulted before you decide whether to go. Michigan is in the Midwestern Snowbelt. Neither snow nor rain is predicted for the weekend, but it's going to be cold.
On Friday the 8th, temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s, so wear a light jacket. On Saturday the 9th, low 40s, so wear a winter jacket. On Sunday the 10th, it might get into the low 60s, but our game will be the Sunday night ESPN game. All 3 evenings are expected to see temperatures plunge into the 30s; Friday and Saturday, into the low 30s. So if you get the Sunday game, bundle up.
The whacked-out Interleague Play schedule always partly takes the American League Central Division teams out of the Yankees' schedule, so this will be the Yankees' only visit to Detroit this season. If you've gone before, and can only afford one roadtrip this season, this series should not be a priority. If you haven't gone before, and money is an issue, wait until next season, or a later season, to do this one, as flying to Detroit can be expensive.
Detroit is a border city. The Detroit River, connecting Lakes Huron and Erie, is one of the few places where you can cross from north to south and go from America to Canada. Windsor, Ontario -- the closest thing to a "South Detroit," making that line in the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" problematic -- is considerably safer, and, like Detroit itself, has a gambling casino. If you want to visit, you'll need to bring your passport. You can use either the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge.
You'll also need to change your money. At the moment, US$1.00 = $1.30, and C$1.00 = US 77 cents.
Tickets. The Tigers have usually been good since their 2006 American League Pennant season. In spite of this, due to how hard the Bush Recession hit Michigan, attendance had not been all that strong. Until their 2012 Pennant season. But it is coming back: The Tigers averaged 33,654 fans per game last season, about 81 percent of capacity in a ballpark that officially seats 41,574 (but can be boosted to over 45,000 with standing room).
The Friday game will be their home opener, so you can probably forget about getting into that game. However, recognizing the Detroit area's special status as an economically-socked region, the Tigers have significantly dropped ticket prices from the last few years.
Infield Boxes are $72, Outfield Boxes are $55, Lower Baseline Boxes (in the outfield corners) are $43, Right Field Grandstands (bleachers) are $36, Upper Boxes are $33, Pavilion (left field bleachers) are $28, Mezzanine (upper right field) are $23, Kaline's Corner (a small right field family section named for the legendary Tiger right fielder) are $22, Bleachers (upper right field) are $21, and the cheapest section, the Jungle Rooftop Bleachers (reminiscent of the apartment buildings across from Wrigley Field, also copied in Philadelphia) are $16.
Getting There. Detroit is 600 land miles from New York. Specifically, it is 616 miles from Times Square to Cadillac Square. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.
This may be the time to do it. The days of Detroit being "kind of an expensive flight," as George once described it on a 1992 episode of Seinfeld, may be over. If you buy tickets online now, you could get a round-trip flight to Detroit's Wayne County Metropolitan Airport for under $500 -- if you don't mind changing planes in Philadelphia.
The airport is 22 miles southwest of downtown. A taxi to downtown will set you back a bundle. There is a bus, SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) bus Number 125, that goes directly from the airport to downtown, but it will take an hour and 20 minutes.
The most direct Amtrak route is the Lake Shore Limited, formerly known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station. It leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Terminal in Toledo at 5:55 every morning. From there, you have to wait until 6:30 to get on a bus to Detroit's Amtrak station, arriving at 7:35. The station is at 11 W. Baltimore Avenue, at Woodward Avenue, 2 1/2 miles north of Comerica, so walking there is not a good option; the number 16 or 53 bus would take you down Woodward.
In reverse, the train leaves Detroit at 9:30 PM, arrives in Toledo at 10:35, and then you have to hang around there until the Lake Shore Limited comes back at 3:20 AM, arriving back in New York at 6:23 PM. Total cost: $184. A lot cheaper than flying, but a tremendous inflammation in the posterior.
How about Greyhound? Yeah, ride a bus for 14 hours to Detroit, there's a great idea. (Rolleyes.) Actually, having done it, I can tell you that it's not that bad. Two Greyhound buses leave Port Authority every day with connections to Detroit. One is at 5:15 PM, and arrives at 7:20 AM, with a 1 hour and 35 minute stopover in Cleveland in the middle of the night (but you won't have to change buses, in case you want to stay on the bus and sleep). The other leaves Port Authority at 10:15 PM, and you will have to change buses in Cleveland, arriving 6:50 AM and leaving 7:50, arriving at 11:25 AM. Despite having to change buses, this one is actually faster, taking 13 hours and 10 minutes, as opposed to the single through bus ride, taking 14 hours and 5 minutes.
Compared to most of Detroit, the bus terminal, at 1001 Howard Street, is relatively new and quite clean. It was just about within walking distance of Tiger Stadium, which really helped me in 1999. It's also not a long walk from Comerica Park, but I wouldn't recommend this. Better to take a cab, especially if you're getting a hotel.
The first bus to leave Detroit after the Thursday afternoon game is at 5:40 PM, and you won't have to change buses, arriving at Port Authority at 7:40 Friday morning. Round-trip fare: $114 if you make an advanced purchase, $142 if you're buying at Port Authority. So Greyhound is also far cheaper than flying, cheaper than Amtrak, and less of a pain than Amtrak -- especially on this roadtrip.
If you decide to drive, the directions are rather simple, down to (literally) the last mile. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. I point this out merely to help you avoid confusion, not because I-90 will become important -- though it is for "How to Be a Yankee Fan in Chicago" and some other cities. In Ohio, you'll take I-80's Exit 64, and get onto Interstate 75 North. This will take you into Michigan. Take Exit 50 for Grand River Avenue. Follow the ramp to Woodward Avenue.
If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 3 hours in Ohio and an hour in Michigan. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and in the Cleveland suburbs, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Detroit, it should be about 12 hours.
I strongly recommend finding a hotel with a good, secure parking garage, even if you're only staying for one game.
Once In the City. The city, on the river of the same name, was founded in 1701 as Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit du Lac Erie (Day-TWAH, strait of Lake Erie), by Antonie de La Mothe Cadillac, for whom the downtown Cadillac Square and the brand of car was named.
Detroit's centerpoint, in culture and in terms of address numbers, is the Woodward Fountain, where Woodward, Michigan and Gratiot Avenues come together, with Cadillac Square just off to the east. Woodward is the street address divider between East and West.
Since the July 1967 race riot, Detroit has become known as a city of poverty, crime, decay, and poor city services, the kind of place where even Batman would fear to tread. The legendary comedian Red Skelton once said, "In Detroit, you can go 10 miles and never leave the scene of the crime." It's no wonder the RoboCop film series was set there.
There was a Nike commercial a few years back, in which young basketball players were seated, yoga-style, in front of a TV screen, on which their "master," a fat black man with a turban and sunglasses who looked nothing like an athlete, was dispensing wisdom. At the end, after the Swoosh logo was shown, the camera went back to one of the students, who asked, "But, Master, what if we behave badly?" And the Master lowered his shades, looked over them, and said, "You go to Detroit." This was in the early 1990s, when the Pistons had begun to fall from their 1989-90 "Bad Boys" championship teams, and going to Detroit was not a good option in any sport -- indeed, the only Detroit team doing well at the time was, strangely, the Lions, who were then a perennial Playoff team thanks largely to Barry Sanders.
I once saw a T-shirt that read, "I'm so bad, I vacation in Detroit." As I mentioned, I have. (I'm not saying I'm "bad," or a "hard man," just that I went.) Newark had a race riot 2 weeks before Detroit's. In May 1999, I saw Detroit, and I realized just how far back Newark had come, by seeing how far Detroit had not.
In the 1950 Census, Detroit was the 4th-largest city in America, after New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, with over 2 million people just within the city limits. "White flight" after the '67 riot has led to the Detroit metropolitan area having roughly the same number of people it had then, about 5.6 million, but within the city limits the number has dropped from over 2 million to just 680,000. The suburbs are beautiful, but the city itself is a hole, and good men (and a few bad ones) have busted their humps trying to get it back on its feet.
One of the good men who's tried is Mike Ilitch, probably the most famous American of Macedonian descent, who runs Little Caesar's Pizza, and owns the Tigers and Red Wings. He rebuilt the city's historic Fox Theater, put Little Caesar's headquarters in the building above it, and had Comerica Park built across the street. He, and many others, including Pistons Hall-of-Famer turned major area businessman Dave Bing, who served a term as Mayor, are trying, they really are.
But Governor Rick Snyder, a Tea Party Republican currently under a criminal investigation for allowing the water of Flint to be poisoned, ordered a State takeover of Detroit's finances. Apparently, he didn't learn the lesson of Hugh Carey, New York's Governor in 1975, who found another way to get New York City's finances back on their feet. In Detroit's case, as in every other place in which it's tried, austerity hasn't worked.
As for you, the potential visitor, the fear of crime should not keep you away. As with Yankee Stadium during the depth of New York's crime wave from the late 1970s to the early '90s, the ballpark is probably the safest, best-protected place in town.
In terms of residents, the suburbs are nearly all-white; the city itself, nearly all-black. If there is another city in North America that is so segregated, I'm not aware of it. The sales tax in the State of Michigan is 6 percent, and does not go up in either the County of Wayne or the City of Detroit.
Detroit is a weird city in some ways. It often seems like a cross between a past that was once glorious but now impossible to reach, and a future that never quite happened. (That observation was once made about the remaining structures from New York’s 1964-65 World’s Fair, and the Astrodome in Houston.) Art Deco structures of the 1920s and ‘30s, such as the Penobscot Building (the tallest building outside New York and Chicago when it opened in 1928, the tallest in Michigan until 1977) stand alongside abandoned, boarded-up or chained-up stores.
But alongside or across from them, there are glassy, modern structures such as the Renaissance Center, shown in the photo above: A 5-tower complex that includes, at its center, the 750-foot tallest building in Michigan (the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere), and, in one of its 4 outer towers, the headquarters of General Motors (although the RenCen was originally financed by Ford).
Downtown also has the Detroit People Mover, a monorail system that is part of the suggestion of Detroit trying to get from 1928 to 2028 while jumping over the difficult years in between. Like the Washington and Montreal Metro (subway) systems, the company running it prides itself on the artwork in its stations.
ZIP Codes in the Detroit area start with the digits 480, 481, 482 and 483, and the Area Code is 313, with 248 (overlaid by 947), 586 and 734 serving the suburbs.
The area around Comerica Park (named for a Midwest-based bank) and Ford Field (home of the NFL's Lions, across Brush Street from Comerica, and named for the automaker), at the northern edge of downtown Detroit, is called Foxtown, after the Fox Theater, which, as I said, Tigers/Wings/Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch had restored.
The ballpark can be entered at Gate A on Witherell (that’s the 1st base stands), Gate B at Witherell & Adams (right field corner), Gate C at Adams & Brush (left field corner), or Gate D on Montcalm (home plate). The official street address is 2100 Woodward Avenue, even though the park is not on Woodward.
The ballpark faces southeast, as did Tiger Stadium. Unlike Tiger Stadium, Comerica is not fully enclosed, so you can see out, and some of Detroit’s taller buildings can be seen from the seats behind the plate, including the RenCen and the Penobscot. Much of Detroit’s financial district, including the Penobscot, was built in the 1920s and ‘30s and, like many of New York’s buildings of the same period, were heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement. Some of these structures show just how much of a shame it is that Detroit has so badly fallen apart in the last half-century.
Great view. Detroit looks pretty good from this angle.
Note the Chevrolet sign on top of the batter's eye.
Unlike Tiger Stadium, whose overhanging upper deck in right field and close left-center power alley made it a hitter's park, Comerica favors pitchers. Outfield distances are as follows: Left, 345 feet; left-center, 370; center, 420; right-center, 365; right, 330.
Actually, the dimensions are not all that different from Tiger Stadium, but the lack of an outfield upper deck means not only is there no batter-aiding overhang, but air can circulate better, and when the wind comes in off the Detroit River, it makes it tough to hit one out. Adam Dunn hit Comerica's longest home run, in 2013, 475 feet. (It's not clear who hit the longest homer at Tiger Stadium: It's been credited to Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash and Cecil Fielder.)
The field is natural grass. In the early 20th Century, most ballparks would have a strip of dirt between home plate and the pitcher's mound, known as a "keyhole." Comerica Park added this feature, and so did the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, now known as Chase Field.
In center field, the Tigers have the Chevrolet Fountain, a takeoff on the fountain in Kansas City, and honoring the automobile industry's contributions to the city that got it nickname "The Motor City" and "Motown." In solidarity, the Chrysler and Ford logos now flank the Chevy ad on top.
During Christmas Week 2013, Comerica Park hosted the Hockeytown Winter Festival, in connection with the NHL Winter Classic to be held nearby at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day. Events included public ice skating and college hockey games.
Food. When I visited Tiger Stadium in its final season, 1999, it had great food, including the very best ballpark hot dog I've ever had. Since they're owned by Little Caesars mogul Ilitch, and before that were owned by Domino's Pizza boss Tom Monaghan, food is taken very seriously by the club. This is, after all, Big Ten Country, where college football tailgate parties are practically a sacrament.
Their big feature is the Big Cat Food Court, under the 1st base stands, featuring Little Caesars, naturally; Sliders, a stand featuring that Midwest staple, the Coney dog (a hot dog with chili and onions, though they're not that popular at the actual Coney Island); the Brushfire Grill, with barbecue specialties; a stand selling "Chicago Style Hot Dogs," with the little pickle slice, the tomato slice, and the celery salt (and, no, I don't know why Detroit's ballpark would sell a Chicago-themed item); Asian Tiger, with Chinese food and sushi; a Mexican food stand; and "Lemons & Ears," which sells lemonade and "elephant ears," a Midwestern variation on that Middle Atlantic States standard, funnel cake.
According to a recent Thrillist article on the best food at each MLB park, the best thing to eat at Comerica Park is bacon on a stick, and the best thing to drink there is beer, both available at Michigan Craft Beer behind Section 104.
The Tigers also have numerous in-park restaurants, but, like the ones at Yankee Stadium II, you can only get in with certain tickets. But if you go to a Detroit Tigers home game and you don't find something good to eat, you're not trying hard enough.
Team History Displays. The main concourse features a Walk of Fame, showing great moments in Detroit baseball history, from the 1887 National League Champion Detroit Wolverines, through the Pennants the Tigers won with Ty Cobb Pennants in 1907-08-09, to the Hank Greenberg years of 1934-45, to the amazing 1968 "Year of the Tiger," to the "Bless You Boys" of 1984, and the 2006 and 2012 Pennants.
Along the left-center-field wall are statues of the 5 Tiger players who have had their uniform numbers retired: 2, Charlie Gehringer, 2nd base, 1924-42; 5, Greenberg, 1st base, 1933-46; 6, Al Kaline, right field, 1953-74 and broadcaster 1975-2002; 16, Hal Newhouser, pitcher, 1939-53; and 23, Willie Horton, left field, 1963-77 (and grew up in Detroit). There is also a statue of Cobb, center field, 1905-26, who played before uniform numbers were worn (though I once saw film of him at an old-timers' game, wearing a Tiger uniform, Number 25). Their names and their numbers are on a wall in left field.
Not with those statues, but rather at the 1st base entrance, is a statue of the late Ernie Harwell, the broadcaster whose very voice meant "the Detroit Tigers" from 1960 to 2002. His name is on a matching wall in right field, along with those of 1979-95 manager Sparky Anderson, Number 11 retired; and the names of Tigers who, while their numbers have not been retired by the team, are, like the preceding (with Horton the lone exception) also in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Sam Crawford, right field, 1903-17; Hugh Jennings, manager, 1907-20; Harry Heilmann, right field, 1914–29 and broadcaster 1934-50; Henry "Heinie" Manush, left field, 1923–27; Gordon "Mickey" Cochrane, catcher 1934-37, manager 1934-38; and George Kell, 3rd base, 1946–52 and broadcaster 1959-96. Jackie Robinson's universally retired Number 42 is also with these names. These walls, in left-center and right-center, serve as Detroit's answer to Yankee Stadium's Monument Park.
Not included, although he is in the Hall of Fame, is 1934-37 left fielder Leon "Goose" Goslin. He, Greenberg and Gehringer, in those early days of the FBI, were nicknamed the G-Men.
The first great Tiger announcer was Edwin "Ty" Tyson, who announced from 1927 to 1953. Unlike Harwell, he has not been honored on these walls or received the Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award for broadcasters.
The Tigers have removed from circulation, but not officially retired, the following uniform numbers: 1, Lou Whitaker, 2nd base, 1977-95; 3, worn by Cochrane, Dick McAuliffe (2nd base, 1960-73), and Alan Trammell (shortstop, 1977-96 and manager 2003-05); and 47, worn by Jack Morris, pitcher, 1977-90.
Since the 1st All-Star Game was held in 1933, right at the dawn of a golden age for the Tigers, Gehringer was their only player selected for it. In 1999, Cobb was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. That same year, he, Crawford, Heilmann, Cochrane, Gehringer, Greenberg, Goslin, and Kaline were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. In 2006, Tiger fans, surprisingly, chose Cobb rather than Kaline as their representative in the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.
Stuff. The Tigers have 5 team stores located throughout the ballpark. Stuffed tigers are a natural to sell, and jerseys, jackets, T-shirts and caps abound. You can also buy DVDs of the official World Series highlight films of 1945, 1968 and 1984 (they come in 1 disc, with the 1935 edition preceding the start of official films sponsored by MLB which started in 1943) and The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers.
Unlike the "Essential Games" series for the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, instead of 6 games, there's only 4, and, due to the limitations on what Major League Baseball Productions has, they only go back to 1968. Despite it not being "The Essential Games of Tiger Stadium," they still limit it to home games. Thus the 1984 clincher, Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, is included; 1968's Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, the only home game the Tigers won in that Series, is included; but the Game 7s of 1945 (at Wrigley Field) and 1968 (at Busch Stadium) are not. They do, however, include the Tiger Stadium finale in 1999 and Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, which was won by Magglio Ordonez hitting a walkoff homer to cap a series sweep.
The Bonus Features include highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game (future Yankee Reggie Jackson hitting the Tiger Stadium roof off future Yankee Dock Ellis), the 1976 "Mark Fidrych Game" in which "the Bird" beat the Yankees on ABC Monday Night Baseball; the Comerica Park opener in 2000; a tribute to Trammell and Whitaker; a big moment from the career of Curtis Granderson, now a Met, a former Tiger and a former Yankee; and a brief Tiger Stadium retrospective.
Books about the Tigers are plentiful. In 1989, then-manager Sparky Anderson collaborated with legendary Detroit sportswriter Joe Falls on The Detroit Tigers: An Illustrated History, probably the best single-volume history of the ballclub.
Charles C. Avison wrote Detroit: City of Champions, telling of how the city produced champion after champion in the Great Depression and World War II: The Tigers winning Pennants in 1934, '35, '40 and '45; the Lions debuting in 1934 and winning the NFL Championship in 1935; the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37 and '43; and Alabama-born, Detroit-trained Joe Louis winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1937 and keeping it until his first retirement in 1948. Back then, Detroit was a city where anything was possible.
Even as late as 1968, in the middle of the golden age of muscle cars and Motown Records, it still seemed like the 1967 riot might be a brief setback to a great city. Earlier this year, George Cantor published The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions, the title based on the fact that 1968 was the last season before Divisional Play began. In contrast, by the time the Tigers won it all again in 1984, Detroit was unquestionably a city of the past, falling apart, torn by racial strife and poverty, and surpassed as an automotive center by Germany and Japan. And, as it did during the Depression, The War, and after the riot, Detroit once again needed a winner. Mark Pattison, David Raglin, Gary Gillette and Richard L. Shook recently published Detroit Tigers 1984: What a Start! What a Finish! (based on the fact that the Tigers won 35 of their first 40 and then won the World Series in 5 games).
Ernie Harwell published several books, including Tuned to Baseball (1984) and Ernie Harwell: Stories from My Life In Baseball (2001). While neither book is solely about his experiences with the Tigers, the man was a born storyteller. He also collaborated with Jim Hawkins on Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon, telling the story of the most beloved athlete in Detroit history -- ahead of Ty Cobb, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Isiah Thomas and every Lions player.
Charles C. Alexander's Ty Cobb, published in 1984, remains the best biography of the Georgia Peach. He recently collaborated with historian Rick Huhn on The Chalmers Race, about Cobb's 1910 duel with Cleveland star Napoleon Lajoie for the AL batting title, and thus for a brand-new Chalmers 30 car (roughly the equivalent of winning Lexus today). Both My Life In Baseball: The True Record, which Cobb wrote with Al Stump, and Cobb: A Biography, which Stump left to be published after his own death, should be discounted as full of tall tales. In contrast, Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life is a fair self-assessment, and John Rosengren's recent Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes tells the complete tale, including a comparison of Greenberg's injury-shortened career with more recent, drug-aided sluggers.
During the Game. You do not have to worry about wearing Yankee gear in Comerica Park. Maybe if it was a Pistons game and you were wearing Chicago Bulls stuff. Or if it was a Lions game and you were wearing Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers stuff. Or if it was a Red Wings game and you were wearing Chicago Blackhawks or (due to their nasty late 1990s, early 2000s matchups) Colorado Avalanche stuff. But for a Tigers game, you can wear just about any opposing team's cap, jersey, jacket, whatever, and no one will give you a hard time based on that.
A recent Thrillist article ranked Tiger fans as the 12th "most intolerable" out of MLB's 30 teams, putting them about in the middle of the pack:
The fellas are in their Cabrera jerseys (every penny towards that salary counts) and about 18 beers deep, while the ladies have their curled hair and temporary Tigers cheek tattoos (and ladies-fit Verlander jerseys) and are about nine Atwater Dirty Blondes deep. Some things are up in the air, like whether one of the guys will fight some meathead who rode the bus up from The Old Shillelagh for staring at his girlfriend (which he was), or some opposing fan who questioned Alan Trammell’s hall-of-fame credentials. One thing is not up in the air: they’ll be safely back in Wyandotte before the night is over.
That's a bit unkind: On my visit, I had absolutely no problem with any Tiger fans, and, while mainly suburban, they had enough street-sense to be properly balanced between edgy and decency. Then again, that was at Tiger Stadium, on the edge of the Corktown ghetto; downtown at Comerica Park, things might now be different.
The Friday afternoon game is the Tigers' home opener. On Saturday afternoon, the ballclub is giving out magnetic schedules. And on Sunday night, they're giving out kids' bats, of the Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez models, to all kids age 14 and under.
The Tigers hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular singer. Their mascot is Paws the Tiger, and not only is he one of the less ridiculous mascots in the major leagues, but he's a better dancer than the Phillie Phanatic.
The Yankees inadvertently contributed to the Tigers' version of the Angels' "Rally Monkey." In a June 2006 Yanks-Tigers game at Comerica, Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson (not to be confused with former Knick Nate Robinson) was featured on FSN Detroit's "Sounds of the Game," in which the TV station puts a microphone on a coach, or a player not in the game. To get the fans going, Nate began to stuff Big League Chew (co-invented by former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton) into his mouth, hoping to spark a late-inning rally. The trend caught on, with Jeremy Bonderman, Zach Miner and Justin Verlander all chewing from time to time.
The Tigers came back to tie the game, and the phrase "It's Gum Time" has become a new rallying cry for the team, along with 1935's "Hold That Tiger," 1968's "Sock It to 'em Tigers" and 1984's "Bless You, Boys."
The Tigers do not have a regular song to play in the 7th inning stretch after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." However, when they take the field, "Detroit Rock City" by KISS is played. And, following a Tiger win, they play "Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues," written by actor Jeff Daniels, who grew up in suburban Chelsea, Michigan, and attended Central Michigan University.
While Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is played at Red Wings games, it is not played at Tiger games. Lead singer Steve Perry wrote the part about the "city boy, born and raised in South Detroit" about a Detroit-born roadie for the band. As for the messed-up geography, he's said, "I tried 'North Detroit,' I tried 'East' and 'West,' and it didn't sing, but 'South Detroit' sounded so beautiful. I loved the way it sounded, only to find out later it's actually Canada."
After the Game. With Detroit's rough reputation, I would recommend not hanging around downtown after a night game. If you want a postgame drink or meal, you're better off sticking to your hotel.
You may have heard of Detroit's classic sports bar, the Lindell Athletic Club, better known as the Lindell AC. USA Today once called it the Number 1 sports bar in America. The late Lions star and actor Alex Karras had a part-ownership, and it got him in trouble with gambling that led to his suspension for the 1963 season. Shortly thereafter, it moved from its original 1949 location to its more familiar one, at Cass & Michigan Avenues. The owners gave out free drinks the night the Tigers clinched the 1968 Pennant.
In 1969, former Yankee player and future Yankee manager Billy Martin, then managing the Minnesota Twins, saw his pitcher Dave Boswell sucker-punch 3rd baseman Bob Allison there, and Martin knocked Boswell out, leading to his own firing. Ironically, Martin's next managing job was with the Tigers. It was Lindell owner James "Jimmy B" Butsicaris who recommended to Billy that he sign speedy center fielder Ron LeFlore, then doing time for armed robbery at Michigan's infamous Jackson State Penitentiary. (LeVar Burton starred in the film One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story, and Billy played himself.)
Sadly, it's gone. But the move of the Tigers out of Tiger Stadium hurt the bar, and it closed in 2002. The Stanley Cup, which the Wings had won a few months earlier, was a guest of honor at the closing ceremony. Another famous Tiger Stadium bar is still open: Nemo's, at 1384 Michigan Avenue at 8th Street. By all means, visit the Tiger Stadium site in daylight -- but not at night.
Giants gather at the Town Pump Tavern, 100 W. Montcalm Street at Park Avenue, 2 blocks from Comerica Park. Harry's Detroit Bar is also said to be a Giants' fan haven. It's right over the Fisher Freeway overpass from Comerica and the Town Pump, at 2482 Clifford Street, near the famous Cass Tech High School. Be warned, though, that over the freeway is not an area to traverse at night.
Expatriate Jet fans are said to gather at Cobo Joe's Smokehouse BBQ & Sports Bar, 422 W. Congress Street at Cass Avenue, across from the Joe Louis Arena/Cobo Hall complex. Cheli's Chili Bar is owned by hockey legend and Detroit native Chris Chelios, at 47 E. Adams Avenue, across Witherell from Comerica and thus a short walk from Ford Field.
If your visit to Detroit is during the European soccer season, which is now approaching its climax, most of the better choices to watch games are in the suburbs. Thomas Magee's is the home pub of the Detroit branch of the U.S. national team fan group, the American Outlaws. 1408 East Fisher Service Drive, in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a 5-minute walk from Comerica Park and Ford Field. SMART Bus 34 to Gratiot and Russell.
If your visit to Detroit is during the European soccer season, which is now approaching its climax, most of the better choices to watch games are in the suburbs. Thomas Magee's is the home pub of the Detroit branch of the U.S. national team fan group, the American Outlaws. 1408 East Fisher Service Drive, in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a 5-minute walk from Comerica Park and Ford Field. SMART Bus 34 to Gratiot and Russell.
Sidelights. For all its problems, Detroit is a great city, not just a great baseball city or even a great sports city. Check out the following – but do it in daylight:
Tiger Stadium, in its Navin Field configuration, 1912-1937
* Site of Tiger Stadium. The first ballpark on the site was called Bennett Park, after Charlie Bennett, a catcher for the NL’s Detroit Wolverines, who didn’t play there. Bennett Park opened in 1896, for the Detroit team in the Western League, which became the American League in 1901. However, the team we know as the Tigers (so named because the orange stripes on their socks evoked not just tigers but the teams at New Jersey’s Princeton University, also called the Tigers) are officially dated from 1901.
After the 1911 season, the wooden Bennett Park was demolished, and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, opening on April 20, 1912 (the same day as Fenway Park in Boston) and named Navin Field, after Tiger owner Frank Navin. He died in 1935, and his co-owner, Walter Briggs, expanded the place to its more familiar configuration in 1938, renaming it Briggs Stadium. In 1961, new owner John Fetzer renamed it Tiger Stadium.
A recent photo of the site
Northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, 1 mile west of Cadillac Square down Michigan Avenue (U.S. Route 12). Number 29 bus from downtown.
* Ford Field. Home to the NFL's Detroit Lions since 2002, it has mainly seen horrible football, although the Lions did make the Playoffs in 2011, just 2 years after going 2-14 and 3 after the only 0-16 season in NFL history. It hosted Super Bowl XL in 2006, with Detroit native Jerome Bettis leading the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Seattle Seahawks and then retiring on top. It's also hosted the only Final Four ever held in the State of Michigan, in 2009 (the "home-court advantage" didn't help Michigan State, as they lost to North Carolina); the Frozen Four in 2010; and the U.S. soccer team's win over Canada on June 7, 2011.
2000 Brush Street, across Brush from Comerica Park, also bounded by Beacon, St. Antoine and Montcalm Streets.
* Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Center. Opening in 1979, while Louis was still alive, this 20,000-seat building was considered very modern at the time. There has been talk of a replacement for “The Joe,” but it doesn’t look likely that an agreement for one will be reached anytime soon.
The Red Wings have come a long way from the building’s early days, when they were nicknamed the Dead Things, winning 4 Stanley Cups in 6 trips to the Finals between 1995 and 2009. It’s considered one of the loudest arenas in the NHL: In 1992, a writer for Hockey Digest compared it to Chicago Stadium, the now-demolished home of their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, and said that, if the visiting team scores 2 early goals, the Chicago fans quiet down, but Detroit fans stay loud throughout the game.
The Joe hosts college hockey, including the Great Lakes Invitational, in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Michigan Tech is the host, with Michigan and Michigan State usually participating, and a 4th team in rotation -- this year, it's Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. (Comerica Park hosted it in 2013, since the NHL Winter Classic of January 1, 2014 was being held there between the Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.) It hosted the Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979.
The Joe also hosted the 1980 Republican Convention -- right, the GOP meeting, and nominating union-buster Ronald Reagan no less, in a majority-black, heavily union city, in an arena named for a boxer who struck a blow for racial equality. (Then again, in 2012, the Democrats met in conservative Charlotte.)
The Joe was built next-door to Cobo Center, which was named for Albert E. Cobo, Mayor from 1950 to 1957. Its centerpiece, a building originally known as Cobo Hall, has been Detroit’s major convention center since its opening in 1960, and, following the rejection of a plan to demolish it and put a new Pistons-Red Wings arena on the site, it recently underwent a renovation and expansion.
It includes a 12,000-seat arena that was home to the Pistons from 1961 to 1978, the Michigan Stags of the World Hockey Association in the 1974-75 season, and a convention complex that includes the city’s famed annual auto show. It is known for some legendary rock concerts, including the KISS album Alive! and area native Bob Seger’s Live Bullet. Unfortunately, it may be best known for the January 6, 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 600 Civic Center Drive at Jefferson Avenue. Each arena has its own station on the Detroit People Mover.
* Detroit Events Center. The Red Wings are moving. Their new arena, which will probably have a corporate name early in its history, will seat 20,000, and is scheduled to open in time for the 2017-18 season, meaning the rest of this season and 2 more will be played at The Joe.
In addition to the Wings, it will host the Great Lakes Invitational, rotate with the Xcel Energy Center as host of the Big Ten hockey tournament, and has already been lined up to host 2018 NCAA Tournament basketball games. 2501 Woodward Avenue at Henry Street, across Interstate 75 from Comerica Park and Ford Field.
* Site of Olympia Stadium. From the outside, it looked more like a big brick movie theater, complete with the Art Deco marquee out front. But "The Old Red Barn" was home to the Red Wings from 1927 to 1979, during which time they won the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37, '43, '50, '52, '54 and '55. In 1950, they hosted Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Pete Babando's overtime winner defeated the Rangers. In '54, they had another overtime Game 7 winner, as "Tough Tony" Leswick hit a shot that deflected off Doug Harvey, the great defenseman of the Montreal Canadiens. (In hockey, the shooter is still credited; in soccer, this would have been officially listed as an "own goal" on Harvey.)
The Olympia was also home to the Pistons from 1957 to 1961; the Falcons in the NBA's inaugural season of 1946-47; the Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979; and the site of some great prizefights, including Jake LaMotta's 1942 win over Sugar Ray Robinson – the only fight Robinson would lose in his career until 1952, and the only one of the 6 fights he had with LaMotta that LaMotta won.
Elvis Presley did 2 shows there early in his career, an afternoon and an evening show on March 31, 1957. (If you think that's a lot for one day, he did 3 shows at the Fox Theater on May 25, 1956.) He returned to the Olympia on September 11, 1970; April 6, 1972; September 29 and October 4, 1974; and April 22, 1977. The Beatles played there on September 6, 1964 and August 13, 1966. (However, it was in the Detroit area -- specifically, on the University of Michigan's radio station in Ann Arbor -- that a disc jockey started the 1969 rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. In a 1989 interview, Paul said, "'Paul is dead'? I didn't believe that one for a minute.")
It was the neighborhood, not the building, that was falling apart: Lincoln Cavalieri, its general manager in its last years, once said, "If an atom bomb landed, I'd want to be in Olympia." It was not a nuclear attack, but an ordinary demolition crew, that took it down in 1987. The Olympia Armory, home of the Michigan National Guard, is now on the site. 5920 Grand River Avenue, corner of McGraw Street, on the Northwest Side. Number 21 bus. If you’re a hockey fan, by all means, visit – but do it in daylight.
* University of Detroit Stadium. Also known as Titan Stadium, this was the Lions' first home, from 1934 to 1937, until what became Tiger Stadium was double-decked. The Lions played and won the 1935 NFL Championship Game there, beating the Giants.
The previous NFL team in the city, the Detroit Wolverines, play there in their lone season, 1928. Built in 1922 and seating 25,000, the University's suspension of its football program in 1964 doomed it, and it was demolished in 1971. The school, now known as the University of Detroit Mercy (it's a Catholic school), has since put a new, multipurpose, artificial turf field on the site. 3801 McNichols Road at Birchcrest Drive. 016 Bus.
* Silverdome. Originally Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium, this stadium was home to the Lions from 1975 to 2001 (after which they moved back downtown to Ford Field), and very nearly became home to the Tigers as well, before owner John Fetzer decided to commit himself to Tiger Stadium. Heisman-winning running backs Billy Sims and Barry Sanders ran wild for the Lions here, but the closest they got to a Super Bowl was reaching the NFC Championship Game in January 1992 – unless you count hosting Super Bowl XVI, 10 years earlier, the beginning of the San Francisco 49er dynasty led by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.
The Pistons, playing here from 1978 to 1988, had a little more luck, reaching the NBA Finals in their last year there. It seated 80,000 for football, set an NBA attendance record (since broken) of 61,983 between the Pistons and Boston Celtics in 1988, and 93,682 for a Mass by Pope John Paul II in 1987. In 1994, it hosted 4 World Cup matches, including 1 by the U.S. and 1 by eventual winner Brazil. It hosted a U.S. soccer draw with Russia in 1992. Elvis had his biggest crowd ever at the Silverdome, 60,500, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1975.
Without the Lions and Pistons, its future is unclear. It hosted a Don King-promoted boxing card in January 2011, and in August 2010 hosted a friendly between Italian soccer giant A.C. Milan and leading Greek club Panathinaikos – appropriate, considering the area’s ethnic makeup. In 2013, the roof was deflated as an energy-saving measure; if a new tenant is found, a new roof will be put in as part of renovations. A current rumor is that a group trying to get an MLS expansion franchise for Detroit will use it, or demolish it and build a new facility on the site. But in March of this year, the owners announced that they would be auctioning off the contents of the facility, including seats and fixtures -- suggesting that they're not optimistic that anything new will be coming anytime soon.
In October 2015, it was announced that the Silverdome would be demolished on the Winter of 2016, and the area would be part of a Oakland County, Michigan mixed-use development.
1200 Featherstone Road, Pontiac. Getting there by public transportation is a pain: The Number 465 bus takes an hour and 25 minutes, and then you gotta walk a mile down Featherstone from Oakland Community College. So if you didn't drive in (or rent a car at the airport), unless you have to see everything on this list, or if you're a Lions fan living in New York who has to see it one more time, or if you're a soccer nut on a pilgrimage to all World Cup sites, I'd suggest skipping it.
In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang in Michigan at Wings Stadium (a minor-league hockey arena, now named Wings Event Center) in Kalamazoo on October 21, 1976 and April 26, 1977; the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena on April 24, 1977; and the Saginaw County Event Center (now the Dow Event Center) in Saginaw on April 25 and May 3, 1977.
* The Palace. Home to the Pistons since 1988, they won the 1989, 1990 and 2004 NBA Championships here, and almost won another in 2005. The Detroit Shock won 3 WNBA Championships here, and, as a result, every time a title is won, the address changes: Currently, it's "Six Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326." However, the Shock moved to Tulsa in 2010, so unless the NBA tries again with a new WNBA team, only the Pistons (theoretically) will be able to change the address to "Seven Championship Drive."
Unfortunately, the 22,000-seat building's best-known event isn't a Pistons title or a rock concert, but the November 19, 2004 fight between the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers that spilled into the stands, becoming known as "the Malice at the Palace." Even the WNBA had a rare brawl there, between the Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008. Lapeer Road and Harmon Road, Auburn Hills, off I-75. Don’t even think about trying to reach it by public transportation: You’d need 2 buses and then a half-hour walk.
* Mack Park. The Negro Leagues' Detroit Stars played here from 1920 to 1929, featuring center fielder Norman "Turkey" Stearnes and pitcher Andy Cooper, who would both be posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. A senior citizens' complex, the Fairview Apartments, is on the site now. 3568 Fairview Street at Mack Avenue, about 5 miles east of downtown. Bus 7 will get you within a 15-minute walk.
* Hamtramck Stadium. After Mack Park burned down in 1929, they moved into this nearby facility for the 1930 season. Pronounced "Ham-TRAM-ick," this city is actually completely surrounded by Detroit. But between the Mack Park fire and the start of the Great Depression at the end of the year, the Stars' fate was sealed.
New teams with the name would occasionally be revived. At its peak, Hamtramck Stadium seated over 8,000 people. However, the decline of the Negro Leagues and the "industrial leagues" in the 1950s doomed it to high school use, it hasn't been used at all since 2012, and its sideline wings have been removed, reducing its capacity to 1,500. Nevertheless, it is 1 of 12 Negro League ballparks still standing. 3201 Dan Street.
When the Dodge Brothers (who later sold the car company bearing their name to Chrysler) opened an auto plant in Hamtramck in 1914, it became a hub for Polish immigration. However, the Polish population of the city has dropped from 90 percent in 1970 to 22 percent today. And Arabs and South Asians have moved in, making it Michigan’s most internationally diverse city.
Nevertheless, if you want the best kielbasa, kapusta, golumpkis and paczkis this side of the Oder, this is the place to go. Hamtramck Town Shopping Center, Joseph Campau Street and Hewitt Street.
Detroit City FC plays in the 4th tier of American soccer, at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, a 7,000-seat high school football stadium, 5 1/2 miles north of downtown. All of these Hamtramck locations can be reached via the Number 10 bus.
Detroit is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a Major League Soccer team, although there is a drive to get an expansion team. The closest MLS team to Detroit is the Columbus Crew, 204 miles away. However, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry may complicate that.
* Motown Historical Museum. As always, I'm going to include some non-sports items. Detroit is generally known for 3 good things: Sports, music and cars. The Motown Historical Museum is the former Motown Records studio, which company founder Berry Gordy Jr. labeled "Hitsville, U.S.A." His sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, now runs it, and it features records and costumes of performers such as the Supremes, the Temptations and the Four Tops. 2648 W. Grand Blvd., on the North Side. Number 16 bus.
* Henry Ford Museum. The centerpiece of the nation’s foremost automotive-themed museum is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Henry Ford himself established the museum: “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition.”
It contains the fascinating, including early cars and bicycles, Henry Ford's first car (his 1896 "Quadricycle"), Igor Sikorsky's prototype for the helicopter, the bus Rosa Parks was riding in when she refused to give up her seat to start the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a Buckminster Fuller "Dymaxion house." It also contains the macabre, with the chair Abraham Lincoln was supposedly sitting in when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington (the theater owner was no relation to Henry); and the chair, and the rest of the car as well, that John F. Kennedy was definitely sitting in when he was assassinated, the back seat of in the 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine he was riding in through downtown Dallas.
Next door to the museum is Greenfield Village, which Ford imagined as a kind of historical park, a more modern version of Colonial Williamsburg – that is, celebrating what was, in 1929 when it opened, considered modern American life, including a reconstruction of the Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory of his good friend Thomas Edison. Ford and Edison were both friends of rubber magnate Henry Firestone (whose tires certainly made Ford’s cars easier to make), and Firestone’s family farm is reconstructed on the site.
Please note that I am not excusing Henry Ford’s control-freak attitude toward his employees' private lives, nor his despicable anti-Semitism, nor his failed union-busting in the 1930s. To be fair, he did give his black auto workers the same pay and benefits as his white ones.
But I am recommending the museum. It's a tribute to the role of technology, including the automobile, in American life, not to the man himself. Oakwood Blvd. and Village Road. Number 200 bus to Michigan Avenue and Oakwood Blvd., then a short walk down Oakwood.
* Greektown Historic District. Although Detroit is famed for its Irish (Corktown, including the site of Tiger Stadium) and Italian communities, and has the largest Arab-American community of any major city, its best-known ethnic neighborhoods are Greektown and the Polish community of Hamtramck. New York's Astoria, Queens has nothing on Detroit's Greektown, which not only has some of the country's finest Greek restaurants, but also the Greektown Casino, which is at 555 E. Lafayette Street, at Beaubien Street. Greektown Station on the People Mover.
* Mariners' Church. On my 1999 visit to Detroit, I discovered this church by accident, walking past it without realizing it was there until I saw the historical marker. Every March, it holds a Blessing of the Fleet for every person and ship going to sea. Every November, it holds a Great Lakes Memorial Service for those who have lost their lives at sea within the past year.
The most famous of these ceremonies was for the 29 men lost on the iron ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Built and homeported in Detroit, the Big Fitz was commemorated by Gordon Lightfoot in his 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." In that song, Lightfoot mistakenly, but poetically, called the church "The Maritime Sailors' Cathedral." (Edmund Fitzgerald himself was the president of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, which invested in the ship's construction, because it was heavily invested in the ore industry.)
170 E. Jefferson Avenue, at Randolph Street, across from the Renaissance Center. If you're going to visit the church, be careful, because Randolph Street empties into the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
* Spirit of Detroit. In front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, the city hall named for the 1974-93 Mayor, stands a marble monument with a bronze statue of a kneeling man, the seals of the City of Detroit and Wayne County, and a Biblical inscription, from 2nd Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
In his left hand, the 26-foot-high kneeling figure holds a gilt bronze sphere emanating rays, to symbolize God. The people in the figure's right hand are a family group. The statue was dedicated in 1958, 4 years after the Municipal Center opened. In recent years, a large jersey has been placed over it when the Tigers, Pistons or Wings have been in their sport's finals. (As yet, this has never been done for the Lions, who haven't been to an NFL Championship Game since 1957, 9 seasons before they started calling it the Super Bowl.) 2 Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue.
The Spirit of Detroit, wearing a Tigers jersey in honor
of the 2012 World Series
* Monument to Joe Louis. Erected in 1986, on a traffic island at the intersection of Woodward & Jefferson, it is a 24-foot-long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal framework. Since it is a monument to Louis, the great black heavyweight champion, the arm and fist are black bronze.
The Louis Monument, with the Spirit of Detroit behind it
Gerald Ford was President from August 9, 1974 to January 20, 1977, and was a graduate of (and an All-American football player at) Michigan in the 1930s. His Presidential Library, and a School of Public Policy named for him, are on the Ann Arbor campus, at 1000 Beal Avenue. However, he is the only President whose Library and Museum are separated, and his Presidential Museum is in his hometown of Grand Rapids, at 303 Pearl Street NW, 158 miles northwest of Detroit. You'll need Greyhound if you want to visit Grand Rapids.
Michigan Stadium is at 1201 S. Main Street at Stadium Blvd. "The Big House" has hosted UM football since 1927. Its peak attendance is 115,109 for Michigan's 2013 win over Notre Dame. This past year, it set new records for highest U.S. attendance for soccer (109,318 for Manchester United beating Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup), and for highest attendance anywhere on the planet for hockey (105,491 for the NHL Winter Classic, the Toronto Maple Leafs beating the Detroit Red Wings).
Adjacent is Crisler Arena, named for Herbert "Fritz" Crisler, the UM football coach from 1938 to 1947, who, in another connection between Princeton University sports and the State of Michigan, had previously coached Princeton's Tigers, and brought his "winged" helmet design with him, making Michigan's "maize and blue" helmets among the most famous in college football. Elvis sang at Crisler Arena on April 24, 1977. The other sports facilities, including Yost Arena (hockey) and Fisher Stadium (named for Ray Fisher, who pitched for the Yankees in the 1910s before they got good and then coached at Michigan, including Charlie Gehringer), are adjacent.
Michigan State University is 88 miles northwest of Detroit, in East Lansing, adjacent to Lansing, the State capital. Greyhound runs 4 buses a day from Detroit to East Lansing, at 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM, 2:20 PM and 7:40 PM, and it takes about 2 hours. Two buses go back to Detroit, at 3:40 and 5:55 PM. $38 round-trip.
Spartan Stadium, formerly Macklin Field, is at 325 W. Shaw Lane at Red Cedar Road, which is named for the river that bisects the MSU campus. Jenison Field House (the old basketball arena, where Magic Johnson starred on their 1979 National Champions), Breslin Events Center (their new arena), and Munn Arena (hockey) are a short walk away, at Kalamazoo Street & Birch Road.
* Home Improvement. The 1991-99 ABC sitcom is easily the best-known TV show to have been set in Detroit, with Tool Time's studio being in the city and the Taylors' house in the suburbs, possibly Bloomfield Hills. But, as far as I know, there were no location shots, not even in the episode in which the Taylors got to see the Lions' Thanksgiving game from a Silverdome skybox. So if you're looking for the Taylors' house, you're not going to find it -- if there was ever a house, not just a studio set, it was likely in or around Los Angeles. Other shows set in Detroit have included Martin, Freaks and Geeks, Sister, Sister, and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
Several films have been set, but not necessarily filmed, in Detroit. Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy's character in the Beverly Hills Cop films, was a Detroit police detective, but most of the film, including the Detroit scenes, was shot in Los Angeles. While RoboCop was set in Detroit, it was filmed in Dallas. (And you thought "Dallas sucks" was just a sports chant.)
Billy Crystal's movie about the 1961 home run record chase, 61*, used Tiger Stadium as a stand-in (with computer-generated help) for the original Yankee Stadium (since the 1973-76 renovation left it looking very little like it did in 1961). Other recent movies set in Detroit include Eminem's Roman à clef 8 Mile, and Clint Eastwood's retired autoworker vs. gangs film Gran Torino.
* Jimmy Hoffa. No, I don't know where Hoffa is buried. All I know for sure is that, when they demolished Giants Stadium in 2010, they found no human remains. Hoffa, who was born in Indiana but lived most of his life in and around Detroit, was last seen alive on July 30, 1975, sitting in his car in the parking lot of Machus' Red Fox.
A fine-dining establishment open from 1965 to 1996, the building is still there, occupied by an Italian restaurant named Andiamo's. 6676 Telegraph Road (U.S. Route 24) at Country Club Drive, Bloomfield, 22 miles northwest of Cadillac Square. As with most sites in Detroit's outer suburbs, getting there by public transportation is a hassle: In this case, you'd need 3 buses.
377 Riverside Drive East. There is bus service available -- less for Michiganders wanting to gamble, more for Windsorites wanting to go to Red Wings games and concerts -- and you can contact Transit Windsor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wings' first home was actually in Windsor: They played their first season, 1926-27, at the Border Cities Arena, which still stands, and is now named Windsor Arena. Like a lot of old arenas (this one was built in 1924), it looks like a barn, and so is nicknamed The Barn. It seats only 4,400 people in its current configuration.
Its long-term tenants, the University of Windsor hockey team and the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, now play elsewhere. The City of Windsor has approved a plan to tear it down and build the new building for Catholic Central High School on the site. 334 Wyandotte Street East, at McDougall Street.
Since 2008, the Spitfires have played at the WFCU Centre. No, that's not named for a radio station: Canadian radio stations' call letters always been with a C. The naming rights are held by the Windsor Family Credit Union. The Spitfires won the Memorial Cup, the championship of Canadian junior hockey, while playing there, in 2009 and '10, and one of the streets bordering is named Memorial Cu Way.
A visit to Detroit does not have to be a scary experience. These people love baseball. They don’t like the Yankees, but they love baseball, and their city should be able to show you a good time.