This post was authored by Curbed contributor MJ Galbraith.
The Tiger Stadium site, 2012.
As it stands today, the Detroit Tigers are thumping the Oakland Athletics in baseball's 2012 American League Division Series, up 2 games to none in the best of 5 contest. The winner of the ALDS will advance to the American League Championship Series. What better time to take a look at some of the more notable baseball landmarks around the city? And by notable baseball landmarks, we mean houses, hotels, and bars. We could wax philosophical on the beauty of baseball at The Corner for hours (and will, tonight, at the bar) but for now, it's time to address our readers' pressing concerns: Ty Cobb's claw-foot bath tub and where Babe Ruth liked to go to get bombed.
For a hot second there, James Burns owned the Tigers from 1901 to 1902. Stymied by a Detroit city ordinance that, among other things, forbade baseball on Sundays, Burns figured that if he was going to make more money, he had to find somewhere that wasn't going to cut out a day's worth of profits. He turned to his native Springwells Township, which at this point was not yet annexed by Detroit city proper. Burns then built Burns Park, located on Dix Avenue (now Vernor) between Waterman and Livernois. The rickety park served as the Tigers' Sundays-only field for two years. No known pictures exist. We reached out to Corktown's unofficial official historian Paul Szewczyk and learned that, during his reign as the Tigers' top kitty, Burns lived in Corktown at 1801 Church Street. James Burns sold the Tigers in 1902 and, following his stint creatively dodging pesky city ordinances, was elected Wayne County Sheriff in 1905.
The same year Burns was elected Sheriff, that famous Georgian miscreant--and one of the greatest baseball players of all time--Ty Cobb came to town. By 1911, Cobb was making enough money to move into a now-seemingly modest duplex in the Woodbridge neighborhood. Cobb would walk his dogs down Trumbull to the park that would eventually become Tiger Stadium. The story of Cobb and his Commonwealth duplex is well documented in Anna Clark's Grantland piece from 2011.
Cobb eventually traded up and bought a house in the Boston-Edison neighborhood at 800 Atkinson. The neighborhood hosted a whole slew of Tigers over the years: Walter Briggs (700 W. Boston Boulevard), who owned parts of and then all of the team from 1919 to his death in 1952, Harry Heilmann (2225 Edison), an outfielder with Cobb and four-time AL batting champ, Willie Horton (112 Edison), a product of Detroit's Northwestern High School and 1968 Tiger legend, Frank Navin (36 Longfellow Ave), owner from 1903 to his death in 1934, Dizzy Trout (2024 Edison), pitcher for the 1945 World Series champion Tigers, and Ty Tyson (758 Atkinson), an early Tigers' radio broadcaster.
Downtown's Book-Cadillac hotel opened in 1924 and hosted visiting ball clubs. If Prohibition couldn't stop Detroit from drinking, it certainly wasn't going to stop the Yankees' Babe Ruth. The hotel--and the city itself--was among the slugger's favorite destinations in the country. In 1939, the hotel would become famous for a more somber moment, as it was on the Book-Cadillac's grand staircase where Lou Gehrig collapsed. The legend would then soon be diagnosed with ALS.
A later downtown hangout would be the Lindell A.C., located at the corner of Michigan and Cass from 1963 to 2002. It was, by all accounts, a modest place. According to legend, the owner added the "A.C." to take the piss out of the fancy pants Detroit Athletic Club. One of the first, if not the first, sports bars as we know them today, the Lindell A.C. was the site where local and visiting baseball players (among other sports starts, including . . . Andre the Giant?) would come and drink after games. It was the type of place where players would drink with fans while coaches got in fistfights with pitchers. The Lindell A.C. closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2006 to make way for the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
· Detroit Now Considers Old Tiger Stadium Ideal Site For Parking Parade Equipment [Curbed Detroit]
· Corktown History [Official]
· Ty Cobb as Detroit [Grantland]
· Sports Figures of the Boston-Edison Historic District [Historic Boston-Edison Association]
· Book-Cadillac Hotel [Historic Detroit]
· Amid Newfound Glory, Echoes of Old Detroit [The New York Times]