Unlike college sports where Wolverines and Spartans divide the state, and unlike neighboring states of Illinois and Ohio, a Michigan Governor has only one Major League Baseball team to cheer for–the Detroit Tigers.
The 2010 Major League Baseball season marks the last Detroit Tiger baseball season where Governor Jennifer Granholm will serve as Chief Executive of the team’s home state of Michigan. In honor of this transition I wanted to recap some of my most vivid memories of the Detroit Tigers during the Jennifer Granholm administration.
Governor Granholm took office in 2003. Her first Summer as Governor was the infamous year that the Detroit Tigers’ 119 loses set an American League record for most loses. Manager Alan Trammel’s team won 5 of their last 6 games the last week of the season to keep them from matching the New York Mets worse record in baseball history.
Jim Leyland became the manager in 2006 and the Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series after making the playoffs as a wild card team and beating the New York Yankees and Oakland A’s to capture the American League Pennant.
On April 13, 2009, the 1976 A.L. Rookie of the Year, Mark Fidrych died in a farm accident at 54. The untimely death of “The Bird” reminded fans of a player who made the game fun with winning antics, even if only for a short time on the field.
In June, 2009, the old Tiger Stadium was demolished, ending a decade of preservation controversy in which the building sat vacant. After finishing in last place in their division in 2008, the “Most Improved” 2009 Tigers rebounded to make a strong bid for the playoffs. However, in the one game playoff with their Divisional rivals, they lose to Minnesota 6-5 in a thriller 12 inning game on October 6, 2009.
“I guess it’s fitting to say there was a loser in this game because we lost the game, but it’s hard for me to believe there was a loser in this game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Both teams played their hearts out. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The 8th Tiger season with Jennifer Granholm as Governor had promise until after the All-Star break when a losing streak all but put the Tigers out of contention for the 2010 Division Title and playoffs. But the season will be remembered for two events that were significant enough to warrant official words from the Governor.
Long time Tiger announcer Ermie Harwell passed away on May 4, 2010, losing his battle with cancer at 92. Harwell had announced more than 8,500 Tiger games in his career, entertaining a generation of baseball fans. Governor Granholm issued a statement after Harwell’s death, where she said, “As great as Ernie was as a baseball announcer, he was an even greater human being. Everybody loved Ernie.”
On the field the season’s highlight was Armando Galarraga’s bid for Detroit’s first ever perfect game on June 2, 2010. A controversial call on what would have been the last out, cost the perfect game. The umpire who made the call would admit he made a mistake on the call saying, “I just cost that kid a perfect game.” The call seemed such an injustice to the pitcher, team, and State of Michigan that it prompted Governor Granholm to issue a Proclamation that Armando Galarraga pitched the Perfect Game. However, Major League Baseball refused to correct the call and make it official.
These 8 years while Jennifer Granholm has served as Governor of Michigan have brought both excitement and disappointment for the Detroit Tigers. The team has endured some questionable calls and deaths of legends, but through it all refused to give up. And the Perfect Game and lives taken will remain forever in the fans’ hearts. The Tigers perseverance is an example to all Michiganders. Because regardless what you think of their performance, they didn’t quit. They woke up every day, packed their lunch, and did their job like true Michiganders. They helped all of us “children at heart” forget about the problems of the present, enjoy the moment, and look to a future that will most certainly get better. And the Winter will pass and it will be Spring again in Michigan, where the songs of birds echo from all corners of our great state. And if you listen closely you can hear coming in the Summer from downtown Detroit, the words, “Play Ball!”
This post was originally published on another blog and moved over on February 18, 2013 to remain with other Michigan related posts.