In today’s baseball market, teams have gone overboard giving away free promotional items as an extra lure to try to fill the seats. Whether it’s a bobble head, calendar, or a refrigerator magnet, it almost seems like nearly every other game fans are given something as the go through the turnstile.
But as a kid growing up in the 1960s, one of the greatest thrills was going to the annual Bat Day at Tiger Stadium when kids 14 and under were given a free Louisville Slugger with the name of a Tiger player on each bat. That was our only freebie, but boy was it something special.
I remember going through the turnstile with my friend Dave Newberg and his Dad when a stadium employee gave me a Jake Wood bat while Dave got a Norm Cash model. Would he trade with me? Yeah right. However I am sure there was a lot of swapping going on, unless of course you were lucky enough to get an Al Kaline model.
It was quite a site when stadium announcer Joe Gentile in his distinctive voice said to the crowd in between one of the innings, “Now boys and girls, raise your bats in the air.” It was a forest of Louisville Sluggers in the beautiful green ballpark and a site I can still see.
When the Tigers came to bat, we invariably pounded the end of the barrel onto the concrete floor while yelling, “We want a hit, we want a hit, we want a hit.” The sounds of those crashing bats resonated throughout the stadium. According to author Richard Bak in his book, “A Place for Summer,” “The promotion was discontinued when structural engineers warned that the pounding of tens of thousands of bats on the concrete floors could damage the stadium.”
I don’t know what happened to my Jake Wood bat, but I probably cracked it on the sandlot and threw it out. Or maybe my mother got rid of it after I went off to college.
However a couple of years ago I did pick up on eBay a Willie Horton Bat Day bat for $10 and it sits in my home office today providing me with yet another wonderful memory of Tiger Stadium.
6 replies on “EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY: BAT DAY AT TIGER STADIUM“
HENRY A ROSENFELD
Jake was a helluva speedy light-hitting 2nd basement; didn’t steal home like Chico Fernandez but…
my first bat day was in 1965 or 66. the tigers played the minnasota twins. I was 8 and this was my first game ever at tiger stadium and we sat 4 or 5 rows behind the tiger dugout, unbelievable feeling. I was a little disapointed that I didn’t get a Tigers player’s name on my bat. I got some guy named Henry Aaron, at the time I had no idea who this was.
I also have fond memories of bat day. I still have my Earl Wilson bat that I got in 1968. I wish I could remember the date and who the Tigers played on bat day 1968.
I have a Willie Mays bat and alsoa bat Horton type bat looking for vintage prices and to sell the MSU’s bat looks like 2965 ba
I went 4 bat days. I still have Gates Brown bat. I broke the others playing ball.
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