I have been a Detroit Tigers fan for many, many years. I grew up listening to them and the late, great Ernie Harwell on the radio. I watched them on TV when Al Kaline and George Kell did the play-by-play.
These days I watch them just about every night, whether for a few innings here and there or for an entire game. I love my Tigers. But one thing I have not done as much as I would like is attend games live and in person.
I ventured to Tiger Stadium just three times in my life. My brother Terry and his family took me to my first game in the late 80s, and I went on two bus trips over the next two years.
A friend and I have been talking about going to a game for the past few years. We agreed that a bus trip would be fun because you are with a group of other die-hard fans, meet new people, and just have a good time without having to worry about the drive and parking.
A few months ago I added our names to a waiting list for a sold-out trip that was being sponsored by a local brewery. I found out this past Wednesday afternoon that we could go, but my friend was unable to get time off work, as the game was the next day. Gotta love the short notice.
My friend Andrew was able to go, so we boarded the bus and headed to the game. I was as giddy as a child at Christmas. I was finally going to see IN PERSON the field where my beloved Tigers play. As we ventured into the park, Andrew joked that I was acting like a tourist: I was looking at everything in amazement, snapping pictures and just taking it all in. For Andrew, this was his third game of the year and one of many in his lifetime. I, however, was in my element.
As I strolled the concourse, I thought of another die-hard Tiger fan, my Grandma McGlothlen, and imagined how much fun the two of us would be having at the ballpark watching our favorite team.
The day was not perfect however. The Tigers lost, there were no home runs, I forgot sun block so my knees are currently on fire, and the trip home was anything but a joy ride.
Weather and other traffic-related issues caused our two-and-a-half-hour trip to extend to nearly four hours. That led to many of the tired and slightly intoxicated passengers (I said this was a trip sponsored by a brewery) entertaining themselves in a slightly annoying way.
What started out as a fun sing-along of 1980’s theme songs turned into a continuous ballad of songs from heavy metal, rock, hip hop, and the like.
Even worse, a few of them actually thought they could carry a tune and enthralled us with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
As I departed the bus, I turned to the driver and said, “This may sound strange, but you look really familiar to me.”
“I thought the same thing about you,” she replied.
After a short Q & A, she informed me that she used to be a security guard at Wings Stadium years ago.
All in all, it was a great day. As the theme song from the 80s show “The Facts of Life” goes: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life.”
Although I would do it again in a heartbeat, there is one thing I would change. Prince Fielder, when you can win the game with ONE swing of the bat, please do it. It was rather annoying listening to the two ladies in front of me complain about how much you make and how badly you were playing.
Most athletes are overpaid. Just another fact of life. GO TIGERS!