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Father's Day at Tiger Stadium

by Mark Lefebure

mark.jpgWe have a tradition in my family. I take my mom to a ballgame on or around Father's Day. She has been a both mother and father to me and my love of the Tigers comes from her.

In 1999, parents were allowed to run the bases with their kids after the game. Mom didn't want to wait in line so she stayed in her seat while I took my two-year-old son Jacques. We exited at the main gate and turned right.

Jacques fell asleep in my arms before we made the turn from Michigan onto Cochrane. A father and his two sons were directly behind us. The boys kept complaining about how tired they were, and what a waste of time this all was. Their father patiently reminded them that this was his Father's Day gift. We shared a knowing glance. I caught bits of conversations from others around us ­ trivia, folklore, statistics.

As we passed the bleacher entrance, our excitement grew. The two boys finally stopped complaining. Jacques woke up as we left the sunlit street, and re-entered the dark building with its beer and popcorn smells. The feeling was very different than before a game when one is usually in a hurry to get seated. We had a chance to examine the nooks and crannies, the many layers of peeling paint, and the odd shaped windows.

One more turn and we stepped out onto the warning track. The first thing I did was look straight up at the overhang. The porch to me is as important a baseball icon as Wrigley's ivy or Fenway's Green Monster. Next I looked over at Kaline's Corner and gauged the distance of a throw to home plate. I looked up in the stands where mom was all by herself in the shade of section 230. Suddenly I felt first base under my foot. I put Jacques down, and he immediately bent down to feel the dirt.  The two boys ran past him. He looked up with a smile and took off for a second, going straight toward the outfield, and as I caught him I filled my pockets with dirt.  We both ran to third and then home. The line filed past the Tigers' dugout to exit the field near the bullpen. Despite the coaxing of the ushers, we lingered awhile.

Jacques and I raced back through the stands. Mom told me she had tears in her eyes watching us run the bases.


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