Alan Trammell remembers Tiger Stadium

Few figures in the history of the Detroit Tigers have ever been as popular as Alan Trammell. A fixture at shortstop for two decades (1977-1996) who was voted 1984 World Series MVP, Trammell went on to manage the team for three seasons (2003-2005) before being replaced by Jim Leyland. In this first-person recollection from 1999, the Tigers’ final year at Tiger Stadium, Trammell talked about his affection for the old park at Michigan and Trumbull.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Tiger Stadium is of winning the World Series in 1984, and the feeling of that stadium and the electricity you felt when the place was getting 35,000 or 40,000 people on a regular basis,” Trammell said. “Sometimes you’d almost think the darn place was going to fall down, the way the people stomped their feet. The stadium would shake a little bit.

“I remember standing out there during batting practice—back when we had the old green seats all over—and looking up there at the upper deck, and when somebody would hit a ball up there, you could see the seats splinter, especially in right field, when no one was out there.

“Before they started doing the renovation and putting aluminum siding on the outside, you would come around the corner of the freeway and as you got closer, you could see all the paint was chipped off on the outside. Basically, if you didn’t see the light towers, it kind of looked like an old warehouse.

“When I first got here, I was just overwhelmed by the stadium, about how close the people were to the field. I had grown up in San Diego, where the stadium was new and with a big parking lot all around it. When I first saw Tiger Stadium, I wondered where all the people parked.

“There are things about the stadium that the fans probably don’t know, but which I’ll always remember. For instance, we didn’t have air conditioning in the locker room until 1982. We didn’t have all the modern conveniences that the new stadiums do, but we managed to get by. The showers didn’t work all the time; we ran out of hot water.

“After a rain it would sometimes flood down in the runway between the locker room and the dugout. So, to get to the dugout, we’d have to walk through the crowd in the corridor and go out on the field where the grounds crew did, down by the bullpen.

“That runway was always kind of musty. I called it ‘the dungeon’ down there. Actually, sometimes you’d go down there if you got upset, but you couldn’t do much because the walls were all concrete. You couldn’t hit the walls or anything because you’d break your hand. If a guy wanted to break a bat or something, he couldn’t do it. There wasn’t enough room.

“I know I went down there a couple of times wanting to do something, and it was kind of funny; it was so frustrating that I’d just say, ‘Ah, forget it.’ I’d go back and put my bat back in the bat rack and just say, ‘Well, it’s not worth it.’

“I remember when Lou Whitaker and I were called up at the end of the 1977 season. We flew in from Montgomery, Alabama, and went right to the stadium, and by the time we got downstairs the game had started. So we just put on our uniforms and walked through that runway to the dugout.

“They gave me number 42 and Lou something like 44 or 46. I didn’t want to wear 42. I wasn’t a 42. But I was 19 years old and very nervous, and as a kid I certainly wasn’t going to say anything. I was just glad to have a uniform. But when we got to spring training the next year, Lou was number 1 and I was number 3, and I thought those were neat numbers.

“When Tiger Stadium is gone, a piece of me will be gone, along with everybody else who played there. But I do know to compete in this day and age, you have to have a new stadium. It’s not for you or me, it’s for our kids and grandkids. They don’t want to come see baseball like we did; they want the amenities. I think that’s the way you have to look at it now. They want more than just the ballgame.”

13 replies on “Alan Trammell remembers Tiger Stadium

  • Bob Busser

    My website has several photo slideshows on Tiger Stadium, MOST of them I shot. It also has over 300 different slideshows of other stadiums and arenas in North America. And many no longer standing.

  • Otto

    I have to disagree with Trammel. I dont think fans want new stadiums with a bunch of amenities. Fans want to sit closer, watch BP and infield practice, and follow the home team players over the course of many seasons. Sadly, comerica park and most teams offer none of those things today.

  • Randy Roenicke

    Tiger Stadium will ALWAYS be a special memory for me. I remember my dad taking my brother and me to games in the late 60s and early 70s, seeing players like Mantle & those great Oriole teams. I’ve been to Comerica one time and felt way too far away from the action. I guess it felt too antiseptic to me. I realize the old ballpark had outlived her self, but I beleive Comerica should have implemented some of Tiger Stadiums amenities, such as, the right field overhang, the Flag pole in center field, Kaline corner, and fans being close to the field of play. The new Yankee stadium did some things to remind the fans of the old stadium, such as the facade, but I see none of this at Comerica. I as many thousands more will always cherish the memories of Tiger Stadium. However , like Trammell said the new ballparks are for the new generations coming. I hope they enjoy Comerica and the memories it will give them as much as past generations enjoyed Tiger Stadium.

  • Cliff Parker

    The good old days of 1984 at the corner. Both Trammell and Whitaker were the best; I remember watching them play when I was in high school in 1984.

  • Jim Lewis

    If the Tigers had adopted the Cochrane Plan ( look it up)….. We could still be watching baseball at Tiger Stadium. They never even considered it. Being close to the field was the best part of Tiger Stadium.

  • Jim Lewis

    Gary….. Thank you for referring to Tram as a Hall of Famer…..I just can’t believe he and Lou are not in the Hall.

  • Gary Steinke

    I agree with you Jim, Whittaker belongs in the Hall of Fame too, just as Jack Morris does. The only member of the 1984 Tigers that’s in the Hall didn’t even play in a game…Sparky Anderson.

  • John B

    Why A.T. isn’t in the HOF is a mystery to me. Maybe he didn’t have the flash of the Wizard of Oz and didn’t do back flips on the field, but weren’t his all around numbers better?

  • Gary Steinke

    John B…Trammell’s numbers weren’t just better then Ozzie Smith’s, they were WAY BETTER and so were Whitaker’s. Tram and Sweet Lou forget to kiss the writers butts when they played. Ozzie Smith’s lifetime #’s BA-.262, HR-28, RBI-793, OBP-.337. Tram’s #’s BA-.285, HR-185, RBI-1003, OBP-.352. Sweet Lou’s #’s BA-.276, HR-244, RBI-1084, OBP-.363. The numbers don’t lie…Tram & Whitaker’s number were WAY BETTER then Ozzie Smith’s. Smith did steal more bases then Tram & Whitaker combined, but if that’s why he’s in the Hall then rules for getting in need to be changed. Maybe Smith is in the HOF because of his syber-metic numbers…we all know how important those stats are (I don’t, but I’m not a nerd) Why getting into the HOF is left up to writers in the age of computers is a mystery to me.

  • Bob Jalving

    Trammell was actually a better all around player than Ozzie. I’m not saying that Ozzie shouldn’t be in the HOF, I’m asking why isn’t Tram there?
    Sure, Ozzie did the back flips and made all those fancy plays, but had him and Tram been on the same team, where would Oz had fit in that lineup? He would have been have been put in late in the game as defensive replacement at the most.

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