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As Time Goes By
Mark Bechtel
July 12, 1999
Tiger Stadium's history is replete with memorable moments
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July 12, 1999

As Time Goes By

Tiger Stadium's history is replete with memorable moments

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April 28, 1896. The Tigers win the first game played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull avenues, beating Columbus 17-2 at Bennett Park. Columbus centerfielder Frank (Gold Brick) Butler runs into a fan in the outfield as he plays George Stallings's fly ball. Butler and the fan are both knocked cold, and Stallings circles the bases for the park's first home run.

April 20, 1912. The Tigers play their first game in rechristened Navin Field (which will be renamed Briggs Stadium in '38 before becoming Tiger Stadium in '61). In the off-season Frank Navin, who co-owned the team and the stadium with Bill Yawkey, had torn down Bennett Park and rebuilt it from scratch. Home plate, which had been positioned where rightfield is today, was moved to its present location, meaning hitters no longer had to look into the setting sun. A concrete grandstand was erected, and 24,384 fans cram into the stadium (capacity 23,000) to watch the Tigers beat the Indians 6-5.

June 13, 1924. Tensions flare when Ty Cobb taunts Babe Ruth by saying, "Something around here really stinks. Like a polecat." Later, a fight erupts after Detroit pitcher Bert Cole plunks Bob Meusel, and Cobb and Ruth brawl at home plate. The fray lasts half an hour and results in the Tigers' forfeiting the game to the Yankees.

July 13, 1934. Ruth hits his 700th career homer, a 480-footer to rightfield. As he circles the bases, he bellows, "I want that ball!" Lennie Bieleski, the fan who caught it, agrees to part with it in return for a better seat, a ball autographed by Ruth and $20.

Oct. 9, 1934. In the midst of an 11-0 win in the seventh game of the World Series, St. Louis leftfielder Joe (Ducky) Medwick spikes Tigers third baseman Marv Owen. Medwick is pelted with fruit, garbage and shoes as he takes his position in the sixth inning. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis orders Medwick removed from the game for his own safety.

April 22, 1938. Briggs Stadium is dedicated as the Indians beat the Tigers 4-3. Over the winter the team's new owner, Walter Briggs, had the stands double-decked in left and center fields. Two years earlier the rightfield stands had been double-decked, the rightfield fence was moved in 42 feet, and the upper deck was made 10 feet wider than the lower deck, creating the stadium's signature overhanging porch.

May 1, 1939. Lou Gehrig plays in his 2,130th consecutive gameā€”the last of his major league career.

July 8, 1941. Ted Williams hits what many consider the most dramatic home run in All-Star Game history. With the American League trailing 5-4, two runners on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, he homers to right off Cubs righty Claude Passeau for a 7-5 win.

Dec. 27, 1953. Bobby Layne leads the Lions on an 80-yard scoring drive in the waning moments of the first NFL Championship Game held at Briggs Stadium. Detroit beats the Browns 17-16.

Oct. 1, 1967. With two men on in the bottom of the ninth, Detroit second baseman Dick McAuliffe, who hadn't grounded into a double play all season, rolls into a season-ending 4-6-3 twin killing. The Tigers' 8-5 loss to the Angels on the season's final day gives the pennant to the Red Sox. After the game disappointed fans storm out of the stands and severely damage the field.

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