Cecil Fielder was only Tiger to clear Tiger Stadium’s left-field roof

Cecil Fielder takes a gingerly stroll on the roof of Tiger Stadium in 1993.

According to former Tiger Stadium groundskeeper Frank Feneckit, it took almost a howitzer to send a ball over the left-field grandstand at The Corner.

The roof was 94 feet high and the left-field fence was 340 feet from home plate, making roof shots in that direction one of the most challenging feats in baseball during the years the Tigers called Tiger Stadium home.

“Climb up to the roof and look around,” Fenecksaid in 1999, the Tigers’ final summer at The Corner, “and you won’t believe how high and hard they have to hit the ball to do that.”

Through 1990, only two players had cleared the roof in left. Minnesota’s Harmon Killebrew had been the first in 1962, followed six years later by Washington’s Frank Howard. But on August 25, 1990, during a Saturday game against Oakland, Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder joined the exclusive circle of sluggers. In the fourth inning, with Alan Trammell on first base and two out, Fielder powered a 3-1 fastball from righthander Dave Stewart toward the roof in left. It bounced twice before plopping over the edge and onto the street.

“That’s the longest home run I’ve had hit off me,” said Stewart, who had surrendered an upper-deck shot to Fielder in the first inning. “I’d have a chance to send my family to Paris on that one.”

The 1990 season was Fielder’s first in Detroit after wearing a Toronto uniform for four seasons and then playing in Japan. That year, “Big Daddy” captured the country’s attention with an eye-popping 51 home runs and 132 RBI, both best in the majors.

Coincidentally, Fielder’s counterpart at first base that day was Mark McGwire, who had hit his very first major league tater exactly four years earlier. On August 25, 1986, McGwire had lined a Walt Terrell pitch into the centerfield bleachers at Tiger Stadium, the first of 583 round-trippers the controversial slugger would wind up hitting in his career. Before leaving Oakland for St. Louis, McGwire would become the fourth and final player to homer over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium, connecting off Brian Moehler on April 21, 1997.

10 replies on “Cecil Fielder was only Tiger to clear Tiger Stadium’s left-field roof

  • Dan Holmes

    In September 1990, I was making the trip from Traverse City down to Toledo, Ohio, to visit my grandmother. I had Ernie on the radio listening to the game. Cecil was on 49, and I veered my car onto the exit to downtown Detroit and snatched up a ticket. I sat myself in the upper deck left seats and waited for the big guy to hit #50, to join George Foster, who I had cheered for since mt Dad was a Reds fan. Fielder didn’t hit his 50th that night, but it remains one of my more memorable spontaneous moments.

    Reply
  • Bob Crans

    I was there. I,my son and two friends were sitting on the first base side in the upper deck when he hit that one, it went up so high I thought it wasn’t coming down until it disappeared over the edge of the roof, Jose Cansenco hit on into center field at the flag pole that game too.

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  • Cecilia

    I was in the stands the day that Mr. McGwire hit his shot over the roof in left. I was a bit too far up the stands behind home plate to see it go out (the upper deck blocked my view), but I knew something had happened. It just shows that, when you buy a ticket to a game, you just might witness a bit of history.

    Reply
  • Les Barker

    I was there the day Fielder hit the over-the-roof shot. My whole family was there. This would be hard to believe but I actually called the shot. My son’s were small and I was trying to teach them the strategy of the game (since I was also their coach). With Trammell on first and Fielder in a 3 – 1 count and leaned over and told my sons, “If I was Fielder in this situation, he should look for a fastball and swing for I-75.” He did. My son’s at 10 and 8 thought I was a genious. Talk about luck, but wow were they wrong. Canseco, McGuire and Trammell also hit homers that day as well as another blast by Fielder. What a game. My son’s still talk about it.

    Reply
  • Brian Collins

    I saw Cecil hit #50 at Yankee Stadium — unfortunately, I misssed seeing #51 because my date was not so much of a baseball fan, early October games get cold, etc. But #50 was a rocket into the upper deck. Cecil signed an autograph for me the next year at the stadium, on my birthday in fact.

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  • Steve Towns

    I was there in the left field upper deck when it was first hit we thought it was coming right to us, but it just kept going over the roof. wow! I will never forget it.

    Reply
  • Chris Bedford

    I was at Tiger Stadium in May 1971 when Reggie Jackson hit the ball over the right field roof.
    Considered one of the longest home runs ever hit in major league history. I remember he stepped out of the box several times because someone in the bleacher seats was shinning a mirror into his eyes.He made the Tigers fans pay for that !

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  • Lansing R Allen

    Cecil hit the longest homerun I’ve seen in my life during a minor league game in Kinston , N.C….The left field at Grainger Stadium is 370 ft. from home plate ; Cecil’s homerun cleared the fence , the street behind the fence , and landed on the roof of a 3 story building that was 20 yards on the other side of the street .

    Reply
  • Adam Stark

    I was there with my dad. It was my 1st game and we sat in the upper deck in left field. The crazy thing is we missed the home run for a hot pretzel. As we stood at the vendor the entire stadium erupted. I will never forget this day.

    Reply

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