There seems to be a consensus building amongst Detroit Tigers fans concerning the iconic logo that the Tigers abandoned in 1994: they want it back.
Mike and Marian Ilitch bought the Detroit Tigers in September 1992. They muddled their way through their first full season in 1993 and rolled out some changes at the start of the 1994 season. Among other things, they renovated parts of Tiger Stadium; they renamed the front rows of the ballpark the “Tiger Den” and changed the seats; they added a food court called “Tiger Plaza” that graced what once was the Tigers player parking lot.
All the the changes were welcomed by Tigers fans — and many were long overdue. The Ilitches were breathing new life into a dying franchise and life seemed good again in Tigertown.
But some of the changes they made didn’t go over quite as well. The Ilitches messed with the look of the player uniforms and the team’s marks. In early 1994, the Tigers held a fashion show at the Fox Theater and unveiled the new look for the Tigers. The road uniform changed to a three-layer script Detroit with gaudy multi-color stripping that went down the seams. The jersey was something old, something new as the script Detroit was a variation from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s — but the stripping gave the uniform the look and feel of an expansion team. It was a far cry from the traditional duds that Tigers fans were used to seeing their heroes wear.
In addition, they decided to change the official team logo that the Tigers used from the early 1960s. This proved to be a massive mistake.
The logo the Ilitches adopted had a prowling cartoon-like tiger crawling through an English D. It had a definite minor league look and didn’t seem worthy of a team once led by Ty Cobb. The inital reaction was one of excitement — but the thrill wore off quickly. Tiger fans were mortified to see that the new logo actually replaced the old English D on the Tigers’ new road caps.
Rumor has it that the new logo was selected by Marian Ilitch herself — and that many who knew better were afraid to tell her that her tastes didn’t necessarily fit in well with a traditional baseball club.
A little at a time, the logo was relegated to the trash heap. Because Tigers fans and the media were so vocal about their dislike of the new mark, the Ilitches eventually took the new logo off of the Tigers official road caps and went back to the orange English D. Official product that was once plastered with the new mark eventually reverted back to the more traditional color schemes and logos.
But here we are 15 years later and the “new logo” continues to rear its ugly head from time to time. It shows up on nationally televised games and licensed Tigers products (that is often designed in far away places) because the mark is included as one of the team’s offical logos. The prowling tiger logo has been dying a slow, painful death without official closure.
It would be wise, I believe, for the Tigers to officially retire the prowling tiger logo and to bring back the old classic circle logo as one of its official marks. I have no doubt it would be an overwhelmingly popular move by the team — and one that is long, long overdue.