There are many things I dislike about Comerica Park, and believe me it’s more than those massive over the top concrete tigers with the baseballs jammed in their mouths.
One accent that particularly grates on me is the orange “Kaline’s Corner” sign in right field.
Now I know it is a tribute to “Mr. Tiger” Al Kaline, but it simply isn’t right to have “Kaline’s Corner” associated with Comerica Park.
When Kaline played from 1953 to 1974, the now Comerica Park area was where former Tiger owner Frank Navin’s alma mater, The Detroit College of Law, stood. At that time law students were learning various legal terms such as fraud.
There was only one “Kaline’s Corner” and that was at Michigan and Trumbull.
When Kaline arrived in Detroit in June of 1953, the 18-year-old started to develop into the one of the game’s greatest right fielders of all-time. Along with Robert Clemente, he had the best outfield arm in the game, and had an uncanny ability to run everything down at the risk of injury. Number six climbed the fence to take away home runs, made shoe string catches, and dove for balls sliding and tumbling on that beautiful, manicured lawn.
In the summer of 1954, Kaline suffered the first of many injuries in his career when he raced into foul territory at Briggs Stadium to make an unbelievable catch as he ran into a wall fronting 50 box seats that jutted out into a curve near the foul line. As he crashed into the barrier he spun around, fired the ball back into infield, and passed out due to the pain in his knee.
In an effort to preserve his prized outfielder, after the season Tigers owner Spike Briggs had that section of seats removed and from then on the area became known as “Kaline’s Corner.”
Kaline’s signature play that became associated with his corner was simply poetry in motion.
When a hard hit ball was hit into the corner for what would appear to be a sure double, Kaline would race for the ball and in the same motion spin around without looking and throw a perfect peg to second base.
The perennial All-Star had been so successful throwing out runners trying to turn a hit into a double that eventually many players simple rounded first and held up happy to just have a single. I can remember in the late 1960s seeing in a NBC Game of the Week preview show announcer Tony Kubek standing with Kaline in the corner as he explained how he made that play. I would love to see a tape of that show. But then again I just wish we could still be going to Michigan and Trumbull to see the real “Kaline’s Corner.”