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Capacity: 46,945
Tiger Stadium, a.k.a. Briggs Stadium (1938-1960)

Tiger Stadium

 

 

General Information

Area of fair territory: 113,000 sq. ft.

Area of foul territory: Small

Fences: 6.5 ft, except CF (5.5 ft)

Elevation: 585 feet

 

First-season attendance: 402,870 (1912).
Worst-season attendance: 320,972 (1933).
Best-season attendance: 2,704,794 (1984).

Who Played Here: Detroit Tigers (AL)
First Opened: April 20, 1912
First night game: June 15,1948
Last Tigers game: September 27, 1999
Surface: Bluegrass

Architect: Osborn Engineering

Owner: City of Detroit
Cost: $300,000



History

     Tiger Stadium was a large square with rounded corners, a nice old park that has a lot of charm and character but that has been rendered by the passage of time into a relic.  It grew up with modern Detroit.  Here, Detroiters witnessed triumphs athleticism and the ending of  the disgrace of racially segregated sports.  The old ballpark saw highlights - the Tigers 1984 miracle season, and the stadium's most famous home run: a mammoth home run by Reggie Jackson off a light tower atop the right-field roof during the 1971 All-Star Game - and lowlights, such as October 9, 1934, when in the sixth inning of Game Seven of the World Series, with the Tigers trailing St. Louis 9-0, Tiger fans pelted the Cardinals' Joe Medwick with so much garbage and debris he was forced to leave the field for his own safety.

 

     Tiger Stadium opened on the same date as Boston's Fenway Park and was built on the same site as Bennett Park, where the Tigers began playing professional baseball.  Originally called Navin Field (after team owner Frank Navin), the ballpark changed its name to Briggs Stadium in 1938 and finally to Tiger Stadium in 1961; through the name changes, and the nearly three decades (1938-1974) that it was home to football's Detroit Lions, the intersection of Michigan and Trumbull was always a field of play for the Detroit Tigers.  (The Lions now play at the nearby Pontiac Silverdome).

     Architecturally, Tiger Stadium is a hodge podge of additions and mistakes that led to an accidentally wonderful aesthetic.  Spiritually, it provided an island of consistency in a sea of change in 20th Century metropolitan Detroit tying together generations, suburbs and cities in common memories.

     It was originally a single-decked grandstand, and the second deck was added in the infield for the 1924 season and today extends all the way around the park, giving Tiger Stadium the only double-decked bleachers in the ML. In addition, the right field roof hangs approximately 10' over the warning track, catching home runs that might have been outs, and necessitating a small string of floodlights to light the otherwise dark warning track at night. Tiger Stadium was the last AL park to install lights, in 1948.

 

     Tiger Stadiumís best seats put fans as close to the action as any ballpark in the league. However, some of the lower-deck seats behind third base had their views of both the mound and home plate blocked by posts.  In some of the seats, the upper deck blocked your view of any ball hit in the air.  Over the years, there had been a few modifications, including various replacements of the center-field scoreboard and a large food court called Tiger Plaza (1993).

     But a few things remained constant - the flagpole in play (in center field), standing 125 feet high; the bullpens down each line, dugout style; the distinctive right field upper deck hanging out over the front row of the lower deck, copied in style at The Ballpark in Arlington, where plenty of home runs ended up over the years.

     Since the upper deck was extended to left and right field in 1938, 18 players have cleared the roof a total of 27 times.  It takes a tremendous shot to clear the third deckís 94-foot-high roof, especially in left, where only Harmon Killebrew in 1962, Frank Howard in 1968, and Cecil Fielder in 1990 have managed the feat.

 

 

Analysis

 

     The outfield wall was unusual in that the fences did not curve at all - they extended in straight lines from the corners to near centerfield, where they cut directly across.  The wall in center was a whopping 440 feet away from home plate, the deepest in any ML park, but the power alleys were relatively close - 365 feet in left, 375 feet in right.  The second deck overhangs the field, cutting the distance to the right field foul pole, right-center alley and center field wall by about 10 feet.

   That meant that home runs were easy to come by here, especially by pull hitters with alley power.  Although a center fielder with range, who could pedal backwards, was a must, corner outfielders were relatively protected by the smallish outfield and the straight walls. 

 

Defense: The infield at Tiger Stadium was well-known for its long grass that ate up ground balls and forced infielders to charge frequently.  

     Center field was very large, so a flychaser up the middle here had to have great range; playing shallow entails a big risk.  It also helped to have infielders who could relay long throws from the outfield.

 

 

1997-1999

1999

Error Index: 117 92
Infield-error Index: 120 100

 

Who benefits: Left-handed pull hitters thrived here, especially those who hit towering fly balls, with the short porch in right and the overhand providing a tempting, 315-foot target.  Power hitters who hit line drives don't benefit as much from the overhang in right - the design of he park is such that a high fly ball could travel 315 feet down the line and go out, while a ball hit on the ground could go 325 feet down the same line.

     But right-handed power hitters also thrived - if Mark McGwire had played here, he might have hit 80 HR in 1998, when Tiger Stadium boosted RHR by 62%.  Sinkerball pitchers who get a lot of groundballs do well with the thick infield grass.  

 

Who gets hurt:  Pitchers who give up a lot of fly balls.  Finesse pitchers who allow hitters to pull them are particularly vulnerable.

 

Park Factors

 

 

  Run HR Avg L-Avg R-Avg L-HR R-HR H 2B 3B
1992 101 118 100 103 98 141 109 101 102 84
1993 99 125 97 99 95 128 124 95 88 89
1994 102 107 101 95 106 108 106 101 88 135
1995 109 131 99 94 103 148 121 97 90 120
1996 97 108 96 95 96 106 110 95 94 70
1997 101 118 94 97 91 129 110 92 87 113
1998 100 138 96 91 99 116 162 95 81 67
1999 102 127 97 95 99 116 140 97 90 155

 

 

1997-1999

1999

Walks: 109 106
Strikeouts: 104 103

 

 

 

Location

 

Detroit, Michigan: 2121 Trumbull Avenue, in the Corktown neighborhood of downtown Detroit. Left field (NW), Cherry Street, later Kaline Drive, and Interstate 75; third base (SW), National Avenue, later Cochrane Avenue; first base (SE), Michigan Avenue; right field (NE), Trumbull Avenue.

Seating Chart

Tiger Stadium seating diagram

Dimensions - History

Left field: 345 (1921), 340.58 (1926), 339 (1930), 367 (1931), 339 (1934) 340 (1938), 342 (1939), 340 (1942)

 

Left-center: 365 (1942)

 

Center field: 467 (1927), 455 (1930), 464 (1931), 459 (1936), 450 (1937), 440 (1938), 450 (1939), 420 (1942), 440 (1944)

 

Right-center: 370 (1942), 375 (1982), 370 (current)

 

Right field: 370 (1921), 370.91 (1926), 372 (1930), 367 (1931), 325 (1936), 315 (1939), 325 (1942), 302 (1954), 325 (1955)

 

Backstop: 54.35 (1954), 66 (1955)

 

Foul territory: small.

 

 

Fences - History

 

All Fences: 5 ft - concrete topped by screen

 

Left field: 20 ft (1935), 30 ft (1937), 10 ft (1938), 12 ft (1940), 15 ft (1946), 12 ft (1953), 14 ft (1954), 12 ft (1955), 11 ft (1958), 9 ft (1962)

 

Center field: 9 ft (1940), 15 ft (1946), 11 ft (1950), 9 ft (1953), 14 ft (1954), 9 ft (1955)

 

Right of flag pole: 7 ft (1946)

Right field: 8 ft (1940), 30 ft (1944), 10 ft (1945), 20 ft (1950), 8 ft (1953), 9 ft (1958), 30 ft (1961), 9 ft (1962)

 

Flag pole: 125 in play (5 feet in front of fence in center field, just left of dead center).

 

 

Capacity - History

 

1912: 23,000

1923: 30,000

1937: 52,416

Fun Facts

  • Highest home run factor in AL in 1998 and in 1999

  • Highest RHR factor in AL in 1998 and in 1999

  • Lowest double factor in AL in 1998

  • Highest error factor in AL in 1998

 

  • The 125-foot flagpole in deep center, just to the left of the 440 mark, was in play; it was the highest outfield obstacle ever in play in baseball history.

  • Originally called Navin Field (after team owner Frank Navin), the ballpark changed its name to Briggs Stadium in 1938 and finally to Tiger Stadium in 1961.

  • This was the only double-decked bleachers in the majors; upper deck from left-center to center, lower deck from center to right-center.

 

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