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
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
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
game--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
Sept. 14, 1968. The Tigers score twice in the ninth inning to
beat Oakland 5-4, making Denny McLain the majors' first 30-game
winner in 34 years.
July 13, 1971. Six future Hall of Famers--Johnny Bench, Hank
Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and
Roberto Clemente--hit home runs as the American League beats the
National 6-4 in the All-Star Game. Jackson's shot off
Pittsburgh's Dock Ellis hits a light standard on the roof in
Oct. 12, 1972. Playing without manager Billy Martin, who was
suspended following a melee in Oakland four days earlier, the
Tigers lose the final game of the American League Championship
Series to the A's 2-1. That Detroit even made the playoffs was
amazing--no Tiger drove in more than 61 runs during the season.
June 28, 1976. On a Monday night flaky rookie Mark (the Bird)
Fidrych beats the Yankees 5-1 in front of 47,855 spectators and
a national television audience.
Oct. 14, 1984. After the Padres decided not to intentionally
walk Kirk Gibson, reliever Goose Gossage is tagged for a home
run by him in Game 5 of the World Series. The three-run shot
into the upper deck in right puts the Tigers ahead of San Diego
8-4 and ices the Series for Detroit.
COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR.Masters of the mound The fiery McLain (left) went 31-6 in '68. A few years later, the Bird groomed his perch and talked to the ball.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO [See caption above]