Few figures in the history of the Detroit Tigers have ever been as popular as Alan Trammell. A fixture at shortstop for two decades (1977-1996) who was voted 1984 World Series MVP, Trammell went on to manage the team for three seasons (2003-2005) before being replaced by Jim Leyland. In this first-person recollection from 1999, the Tigers’ final year at Tiger Stadium, Trammell talked about his affection for the old park at Michigan and Trumbull.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Tiger Stadium is of winning the World Series in 1984, and the feeling of that stadium and the electricity you felt when the place was getting 35,000 or 40,000 people on a regular basis,” Trammell said. “Sometimes you’d almost think the darn place was going to fall down, the way the people stomped their feet. The stadium would shake a little bit.
“I remember standing out there during batting practice—back when we had the old green seats all over—and looking up there at the upper deck, and when somebody would hit a ball up there, you could see the seats splinter, especially in right field, when no one was out there.
“Before they started doing the renovation and putting aluminum siding on the outside, you would come around the corner of the freeway and as you got closer, you could see all the paint was chipped off on the outside. Basically, if you didn’t see the light towers, it kind of looked like an old warehouse.
“When I first got here, I was just overwhelmed by the stadium, about how close the people were to the field. I had grown up in San Diego, where the stadium was new and with a big parking lot all around it. When I first saw Tiger Stadium, I wondered where all the people parked.
“There are things about the stadium that the fans probably don’t know, but which I’ll always remember. For instance, we didn’t have air conditioning in the locker room until 1982. We didn’t have all the modern conveniences that the new stadiums do, but we managed to get by. The showers didn’t work all the time; we ran out of hot water.
“After a rain it would sometimes flood down in the runway between the locker room and the dugout. So, to get to the dugout, we’d have to walk through the crowd in the corridor and go out on the field where the grounds crew did, down by the bullpen.
“That runway was always kind of musty. I called it ‘the dungeon’ down there. Actually, sometimes you’d go down there if you got upset, but you couldn’t do much because the walls were all concrete. You couldn’t hit the walls or anything because you’d break your hand. If a guy wanted to break a bat or something, he couldn’t do it. There wasn’t enough room.
“I know I went down there a couple of times wanting to do something, and it was kind of funny; it was so frustrating that I’d just say, ‘Ah, forget it.’ I’d go back and put my bat back in the bat rack and just say, ‘Well, it’s not worth it.’
“I remember when Lou Whitaker and I were called up at the end of the 1977 season. We flew in from Montgomery, Alabama, and went right to the stadium, and by the time we got downstairs the game had started. So we just put on our uniforms and walked through that runway to the dugout.
“They gave me number 42 and Lou something like 44 or 46. I didn’t want to wear 42. I wasn’t a 42. But I was 19 years old and very nervous, and as a kid I certainly wasn’t going to say anything. I was just glad to have a uniform. But when we got to spring training the next year, Lou was number 1 and I was number 3, and I thought those were neat numbers.
“When Tiger Stadium is gone, a piece of me will be gone, along with everybody else who played there. But I do know to compete in this day and age, you have to have a new stadium. It’s not for you or me, it’s for our kids and grandkids. They don’t want to come see baseball like we did; they want the amenities. I think that’s the way you have to look at it now. They want more than just the ballgame.”