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Keeping baseball alive at Tiger Stadium

Navin Field

The city may be seeking an alternative use for the site, but the Navin Field Grounds Crew and dedicated vintage-baseball enthusiasts are keeping the spirit of baseball alive at the old Tiger Stadium site.

The ballpark grandstand is gone — torn down in stages while the city dithered over a proposed from the late Ernie Harwell to preserve the original Navin Field grandstand as a museum and working ballpark — but the original playing field is intact, maintained by a group of volunteers, the Navin Field Grounds Crew.

That field was put into good use over the weekend when Walker Tavern Wheels took on the Rochester Grangers in a vintage-baseball game, played under older rules of the game. Tiger Stadium began life as Navin Field, opening the same day as Fenway Park: April 20, 1912. From the Detroit Free Press:

Stepping back nearly 150 years in time, the ballplayers who took to the field Sunday at the old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit’s Corktown played by a vintage set of rules. There were no gloves, no overrunning first base and the pitcher was obligated to throw the ball where the hitter wanted it.

Besides the 1860s rules, players wore vintage uniforms that included knicker-style pants or suspenders, red ribbon bow ties, and a handkerchief tucked in their back pants pockets.

“A lot of us, if not all of us, have been here when the stadium was up,” said player Jim Terwilliger, 37, of Onsted, about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. “Just being able to play on the same field as the greats is phenomenal.”

Image of Briggs Stadium originally posted at the Old Ballparks Facebook page.

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