Today, April 20, marks the 101st anniversary of the opening of Navin Field at what became known as “The Corner” – Michigan and Trumbull. That ballpark went from Navin Field to Briggs Stadium to Tiger Stadium, but no matter what it was called, it was home to numerous great moments. The ballpark was a haven for home runs, and many amazing homers were hit there over the years. Here are some Tiger Stadium homer facts on this anniversary date.
First homer hit in the ballpark
The very first home run hit at Navin Field in 1912 was hit by Ty Cobb, the Tigers star outfielder and batting champion. In many ways, Navin Field was “The House that Cobb Built.” Cobb’s emergence with Detroit coincided with the team winning three consecutive pennants and becoming the highest scoring offense in the league. Cobb’s homer to christen Navin Field was a deep fly ball over the head of the opposing center fielder. Ty circled the bases standing up with an inside-the-park circuit blow.
Greenberg narrowly missed tying Babe’s record
In 1938, hank Greenberg had it all going good. The powerful Tiger slugger went on a home run binge that saw him belt 58 home runs. As the weather got warmer, Hammerin’ Hank heated up. He hit 15 homers in July, nine more in August, and then capped it off with a dozen in September. In August, Greenberg hit a towering homer to left field that would have given him 59, but the shot was washed out when the game was halted due to rain. Greenberg fell just two homers shy of tying Babe Ruth’s mark of 60 homers.
Clearing the roof
Several players hit balls over the roof in right field at The Corner. Most notably were Detroit hitters Norm Cash and Jason Thompson who did it numerous times. But few players ever accomplished the feat of hitting a baseball over the left field roof – a much more lengthy blast. The four to achieve that were Harmon Killebrew, Frank Howard, Mark McGwire, and Cecil Fielder. Only Fielder did it for the home team. Babe Ruth hit a ball that cleared the right field stands (the roof was not as tall at that time) and some claim traveled more than 600 feet. Kirk Gibson famously hit a ball over the right field roof that landed in the lumber yard across the street, traveling a distance of more than 500 feet.
The final home run
Fittingly, in the last game at The Corner, on September 27, 1999, it was a Tiger who launched the final homer at Tiger Stadium. Robert Fick blasted a moon shot that not only left the playing field, it landed on top of the right field roof. It was a grand slam home run and it sealed a laugher for the Tigers over the Royals. In some serendipity, the home run was the 11,111th hit at The Corner. It was also the final hit at the ballpark.