Final Detroit Tigers game at Tiger Stadium


Final Detroit Tigers game at Tiger Stadium

The final game at Tiger Stadium was played on September 27, 1999 between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers were victorious 8-2. The winning pitcher was Detroit starter Brian Moehler. The losing pitcher was Jeff Suppan.

The pregame ceremony

Prior to the final game at Tiger Stadium, a ceremony was held. It was emceed by then current Tiger broadcaster and Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell. At the ceremony, owner Mike Ilitch spoke along with then Michigan governor John Engler, then Detroit mayor Dennis Archer and Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig. Also featured at the ceremony was longtime Tiger right fielder and Hall of Famer Al Kaline.

Instead of both managers exchanging lineups before the game, both clubs appointed honorary captains. Representing the Tigers was Kaline and representing the Royals was former MVP and Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett.

The game

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E KC 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 11 1 DET 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 4 x 8 11 0

Kansas City Box Score AB R H RBI BB SO Febles 2b 4 0 1 0 0 1 Pose ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 Sanchez ss 5 0 2 0 0 0 Beltran cf 4 1 3 0 1 1 Dye rf 3 0 1 0 1 0 Sweeney 1b 4 0 1 0 0 2 Randa 3b 4 0 1 1 0 0 Quinn lf 3 1 1 1 1 0 Giambi dh 4 0 0 0 0 3 Kreuter c 4 0 1 0 0 1 Totals 36 2 11 2 3 10 -- FIELDING DP: 2. Sanchez-Sweeney, Dye-Sweeney. E: Dye (5) -- BATTING 2B: Beltran (27, Moehler) HR: Quinn (6, 6th inning off Moehler, 0 on, 0 out) Team LOB: 10 -- PITCHING IP H R ER BB SO HR Suppan L(10-11) 5.1 8 4 4 3 1 2 Morman 1.2 0 0 0 1 0 0 Montgomery 1.0 3 4 4 1 0 1 Totals 8.0 11 8 8 5 1 3

Detroit Box Score AB R H RBI BB SO Polonia lf 3 1 2 1 0 0 Jefferies ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 Bartee cf 1 0 0 0 0 0 Ausmus c 3 0 1 0 1 1 Clark 1b 4 0 0 0 0 0 Palmer 3b 3 1 2 0 1 0 Easley 2b 3 2 3 0 0 0 K. Garcia rf,lf 3 2 1 2 1 0 Kapler cf,rf 3 1 1 0 1 0 Fick dh 2 1 1 5 1 0 D. Cruz ss 4 0 0 0 0 0 Totals 30 8 11 8 5 1 -- FIELDING DP: 2. Palmer-Easley-Clark, Easley-D. Cruz-Clark. -- BATTING 2B: Easley (30, Suppan); Palmer (24, Montgomery) HR: Polonia (9, 1st inning off Suppan, 0 on, 0 out); K. Garcia (13, 6th inning off Suppan, 1 on, 1 out); Fick (3, 8th inning off Montgomery, 3 on, 1 out.) SH: Easley (2, Suppan). SF: Fick (1, Suppan). IBB: K. Garcia (1, Montgomery). Team LOB: 4 -- BASERUNNING SB: Kapler (11, 2nd bse off Suppan/Kreuter). CS: Palmer (3, 2nd base off Suppan/Kreuter). -- PITCHING IP H R ER BB SO HR Moehler W(10-16) 6.0 9 2 2 2 5 1 Cordero 0.1 2 0 0 1 1 0 Brocail 1.2 0 0 0 0 2 0 Jones 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 Totals 9.0 11 2 2 3 10 1

Game Information Umpires: HP-Rocky Roe; 1B-Rick Reed; 2B-Durwood Merrill; 3B-Jim Reynolds Time of Game: 2:58 Attendance: 43,356

The postgame ceremony

The game ended at 7:07 pm. The grounds crew then surrounded home plate. Groundskeeper Charlie McGee, using a pick axe, dug up home plate at 7:13. It would then be transported by Tiger pitchers Matt Anderson, Jeff Weaver and Francisco Cordero, with police escort, to Comerica Park.

Ernie Harwell then read a history of Tiger Stadium accompanied by music from the movie "Field of Dreams". He introduced a film containing images of such Tiger legends as Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Hughie Jennings and Harry Heilmann. In addition, the Tigers Hall of Famers were honored: Heinie Manush, Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser, George Kell, and Harwell.

Following remarks from Willie Horton and former manager Sparky Anderson, there emerged from the center field gate players from times past, including Mark Fidrych, Bill Freehan, Dick McAuliffe, Dave Bergman, Mickey Stanley, Willie Horton, Kirk Gibson, Cecil Fielder, Al Kaline, the combination of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, and Elden Auker. A line was formed from the center field flagpole to home plate, along which was passed the flag that had flown from the pole in dead center over the finale.

After Auker passed the flag to catcher Brad Ausmus, players threw souvenirs into the stands as some reached over and put dirt from the warning track into plastic bags. It was at this time that Harwell gave his final goodbye: "Tonight, we say good-bye. ... Farewell, old friend Tiger Stadium. We will remember."

At 8:19, the scoreboard was shut off. At quarter to nine, a final team picture was taken, and by 9 the stands were empty. As the last of the fans left, a sign was hung on the famous right-center field overhang which read: “Today, there is crying in baseball. So long, old friend."

Ernie Harwell's farewell

"Ladies and gentlemen, less than six months ago, we began a warm season of farewells, and with each passing day we came a little bit closer to this historic occasion.

"The Lions, Joe Louis and Nelson Mandela. Six-thousand eight-hundred and seventy-three regular-season games, 35 postseason contents and a trio of spectacular All-Star Games, Tiger Stadium has been home to this great game of baseball. But more than anything, it has been a cherished home to our memories.

"Will you remember that last base hit? The last out? How about that last pitch? Or maybe it’s the first time as a child when you saw that green, green grass that will forever be etched into your mind and soul.

"Tonight, we say good-bye. But we will not forget. Open your eyes, look around and take a mental picture. Moments like this shall live on forever.

"It’s been 88 moving years at Michigan and Trumbull. The tradition built here shall endure along with the permanence of the Olde English D. But tonight we must say good-bye.

"Farewell, old friend Tiger Stadium. We will remember."

Notable quotes

; "It was almost like being in baseball church.": "Detroit mayor Dennis Archer"

; "We know what this place means to you [the fans] .": "Closer Todd Jones prior to the game"

; "Yet today, 46 years later, I stand before you as a grown man, a veteran of thousands of games in this ballpark, and again find myself humbled and somewhat overwhelmed by the events unfolding in front of us. ... Tiger Stadium’s strengths lie not in its dazzling architecture or creature comforts, but rather in it character, charm and history. And while common materials may have been used to build this place…the memories are the cement that has held it together for 88 wonderful seasons.": "Al Kaline in his pregame address"

; "I was hoping it would be a strikeout. I wanted to get the ball. I didn’t want to keep it for myself, obviously, but I wanted to get the putout – be the last person to touch a ball in play at Tiger Stadium. It’s not something anybody’s going to remember, but I’ll remember.": "Catcher Brad Ausmus on the game-ending strikeout"

; "I couldn’t really get a good feel for what was going on out there. I had to calm myself down. I was just trying to throw it somewhere near Brad [Ausmus] ."; "I stepped off the back of the mound and took a look around. I just tried to soak it in a little bit because we had a good cushion, we had two outs and I had 0-2. If I wasn’t going to do it then, I wasn’t going to do it."; "I was trying to not overstep my bounds, just let the moment happen. I would like to do it more, but this place doesn’t me. I just fulfilled the end. They had to have somebody out there. I’m just honored it was me.": "Todd Jones on his appearance in the final inning"

; "Brad, take this flag to Comerica Park, your new home, and take with it the boyhood dreams, the perseverance and the competitive desire it take to become a Detroit Tiger.": "Elden Auker, former Tiger pitcher, passing the Tiger Stadium flag to Brad Ausmus during the postgame ceremonies"

Uniform numbers

In recognition of the fans' vote for the All-Time Detroit Tigers Team, members of the Detroit starting lineup wore the numbers of the players at their respective positions.

; Tony Clark - 1B: 5 for Hank Greenberg; Damion Easley - 2B: 2 for Charlie Gehringer; Dean Palmer - 3B: 21 for George Kell; Deivi Cruz - SS: 3 for Alan Trammell; Luis Polonia - LF: 23 for Willie Horton; Gabe Kapler - CF: No number for Ty Cobb; Karim Garcia - RF: 6 for Al Kaline; Brad Ausmus - C: 11 for Bill Freehan; Robert Fick - DH: 25 for Norm Cash; Brian Moehler - P: 47 for Jack Morris

References

* [http://info.detnews.com/ballpark/index.htm The Old Ballpark]

Information from the book "Corner to Copa: The Last Game at Tiger Stadium and the First at Comerica Park" from the Detroit Free Press and published by Triumph Books, Chicago.


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