Tiger Stadium Flag Pole Gets New Life

Arguably the two most unique features at Tiger Stadium were the right field upper deck overhang that snagged lazy fly balls for home runs and the 125 foot flag pole in front of the 400 foot marker, the only pole in play in major league baseball at the time. Both features have been replicated elsewhere since the ballpark’s demise.

At the Tiger Stadium site, the only remaining structural feature is the flag pole. You can’t really count the portion of the mid-nineties fencing from Ilitch’s “Tiger Plaza” on Michigan Avenue.

If you remember, when the Tigers moved, Ilitch requested that the Tiger Stadium flag pole be relocated to Comerica Park, but the city refused.

It may be the only instance in which the city ever turned him down.

It is still amazing to me that the Detroit Economic Development Corporation and its puppeteers who from the get go were hell bent on demolishing the historic ballpark allowed the pole to remain. I guess we can at least thank them for that.

Up until about six months ago, and throughout the demolition process, a flag flew on the pole until it was removed and the metal lines that hoisted the flag were cut.

However recently, some enterprising person who obviously supports preservation of the pole and diamond hired a crane, replaced the cut lines, and hoisted a huge, brand new Old Glory. In addition, a lighting system on top of Brooks Lumber now lights up the Stars and Stripes at night. See the video below.

If you think about, it is the most famous flagpole in Michigan. More people stared at the flag high atop that pole to sing the national anthem than anywhere else in the state of Michigan. Championship banners for the Tigers and Lions have flown on that pole.

Today the flag pole is painted Yankee Stadium mint green as Billy Crystal painted it for his 2001 HBO movie *61 about the home run race between New York teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Crystal had painted all the seats at Tiger Stadium mint green, but sprayed off the paint at the end of filming. I guess he forgot about the flag pole. When you look closely at the pole, some of the mint green has rubbed off and you can see blue paint from the late 1970’s renovation and the original green paint that dates back to the days of Navin Field.

Let’s hope the flag remains flying high at that beautiful diamond in the rough.

5 replies on “Tiger Stadium Flag Pole Gets New Life

  • Kevin

    Just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog and the interesting things you post. It’s funny too, because I went on a tour of Comerica Park last year, and I asked about the flag pole. The person giving the tour said it was in fact the same flag pole from Tiger Stadium, though I knew differently as the old one was still on the grounds of Tiger Stadium. Comerica Park is nice, but you can never replace the sights and sounds of Tiger Stadium. It’s a shame the Detroit City Government has ruined the city and just let it run into decay. Tiger Stadium stood for so many years, and even if the Tigers weren’t to play there, it could have had so much use in other ways – minor league baseball, high school sports, etc.

  • Rob

    A prevailing myth is that the entire flagpole was in play for its entire existence. This is not true. At some point a yellow line was added about 8-10 feet up the pole to match the height of the outfield fence denoting that a batted ball that struck the pole above the line would be a home run. I can’t seem to find out when exactly the line was added, or if anyone ever hit the pole above the line. I don’t recall this ever happening. I’m a bit frustrated trying to find this bit of trivia out, as no one seems to know! If you could find out that would be great!

  • John

    By now, you probably know who put up the flag and what they became: The Navin Field Grounds Crew. For years they reworked thw field into playable shape, sespite being threatened with arrest originally. Finally, there was new interest in The Corner, and anyone could come play ball where Ty Cobb once trotted the bases. At least, they could until the city developed it into a little league stadium… with artificial turf. The last pieces of Tiger Stadium – the grass and dirt and yes, the flag pole, were eliminated once and for all. (Other than following them on Facebook, and loving what they did to preserve the history of a stadium that I – a kid from New Jersey – only had the fortune of visiting once, I have no connected to the Navin Field Grounds Crew.)

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