Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The end of an era comes to the site of Detroit's historic Tiger Stadium

Acclaimed architect and Michigan native John Davids said, "Any fool can maintain a current Major League baseball field. But it takes real talent to bring a ball field back from the dead."
That's what the NFGC did in 2010.
Despite being threatened with arrest from the City of Detroit, we took a weed- and garbage-infested lot and turned it into a field of dreams. We created a tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world.
We never asked The Skillman FoundationThe Kresge Foundation, the Ralph Wilson Foundation, or the Detroit Tigers for a penny. We paid for everything ourselves.
We're the group that brought youth baseball to Michigan and Trumbull. We also brought back adult fast-pitch baseball, and vintage "base ball," as it was played in the 1860s.
We provided a much-needed green space in the heart of Detroit's historic Corktown neighborhood. For the past six years, this has been an open park where residents could play sports, walk their dogs, have picnics and parties, and fly kites.
It's also been a site where people have come to get married, and to scatter the ashes of their loved ones. This is a story that is uniquely Detroit.
We don't believe there has ever been another time when a Major League Baseball stadium was torn down, and a group of volunteers decided to rescue the field and preserve a public park.
Our six-year run at the field is over. We're pleased that baseball will continue to be played at The Corner. We hope that Detroit PAL will decide to at least save the grass and dirt infield. We also hope the field will remain accessible to the public.
While we've been around for more than six years, I believe the NFGC is still in its infancy. Our group is not only passionate about baseball, we also want to work to improve parks in Detroit and the surrounding area.
We might go to historic Hamtramck Stadium, Northwestern High School, or any number of parks in Detroit.
We will continue to host cool events, like our recent screening of Mark Fidrych's Monday night victory over the Yankees in 1976.
Some members of the NFGC live in Detroit, and some don't. But Detroit lives in every member of our crew.
We are excited as we move on to our next project. We'll be sure to keep you posted.
As for me, I didn't take any sod from the field as a souvenir. Instead, I'll take all the friends I've made at Navin Field over the past six years. They mean more to me than anything.
Thank you for all your kind words since May of 2010. We couldn't have restored this field without your support.

Tom Derry
Navin Field Grounds Crew