Final weekend gives Tigers opportunity to spin tales about a storied ballpark

October 06, 1991|By Kent Baker

Detroit Tigers mamager Sparky Anderson will remember most the final game of the 1970 World Series, when the Baltimore Orioles clinched their title against his "Big Red Machine" from Cincinnati.

Former Oriole Mickey Tettleton will remember the tradition of the great players who graced Memorial Stadium, a "park that probably doesn't get enough recognition for the sum of the people it housed."

Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell will remember the park "as the home of one of the class organizations in baseball and the Oriole Magic song that the team ran onto the field to with everybody going crazy."

And Detroit reliever Mike Henneman said: "I like to think about the players who have been here. I think it'll be kind of neat to be in the closing series. I'll always remember it. And it's a great opportunity for the fans."

To teammate Cecil Fielder, who has played in every game this season, the series simply signifies the end of a long road.

"I got three more days and I'm going home," he said. "Basically, I've done everything I want to do this season."

But for the Detroit Tigers, there is more at stake this weekend than the ceremonial closing of a baseball arena they have visited since 1954.

With Boston losing to Milwaukee yesterday, the Tigers still trail the second-place Red Sox by just one game heading into today's fifnale.

And Fielder, with 44 home runs, is in a neck-and-neck battle with the Oakland Athletics' Jose Canseco for his second consecutive home run title and perhaps with Cal Ripken and Canseco for the league's Most Valuable Player award.

"It's not like the games are meaningless to us," said Tettleton. "I think we knew we had a better team than people gave us credit for and second place would be great."

Fielder said he has proved 1990 "wasn't no fluke. I think all that talk is really washed up. So, I don't think I'd be overly disappointed if I didn't win the home run title.

"Sure, it's important, but basically I'm going out and doing my best, then go home. I'm not going to put all my emphasis on that. I'm tired."

Henneman's most vivid memory of a Memorial Stadium game is not a pleasant one.

"I came in and we were winning, 12-4, and I threw three pitches," he said. "Mike Young hit a line drive that hit me square in the shoulder. I spun around and fell down. It was a bullet. That was the first time I'd ever been drilled on the mound. It was very scary."

Anderson said he won't get overly excited until Sunday, when the curtain is about to come down.

"The last day it'll sink in," he said. "You always remember the last game ever anywhere. And since we're still in for second place going into the weekend, it means something."

Anderson said he will never forget Game 5 of the 1970 Series when the Reds came here "and the Orioles just beat us up. We didn't have any pitching.

"So I got to put Pat Corrales [Johnny Bench's backup] in. He never got a chance to go to bat in the World Series again. If I've ever done anything nice in this game, that is one that will always stay with me.

"And I don't think I'll ever live long enough to see one player dominate that Series like Brooks did."

The Tigers are old hands at openings. Today's pitcher, Frank Tanana, won the first game at new Comiskey Park, 16-0, over the Chicago White Sox and also pitched a shutout in the first game at Seattle's Kingdome.

"I just hope I do as well in closings," he said.

"With Ernie [Harwell] coming back here and closing it up, it's really something," Henneman said of the outgoing Tigers broadcaster who was with the Orioles when they began their Memorial Stadium run. "Opening Comiskey and closing Memorial. You don't find that happening to one team very often."

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