Illustration by Brian Todd/Detroit Free Press
Tonight kicks off Major League Baseball's World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I grew up in Michigan and am a die-hard Tigers fan.
The Tigers somehow touch a cord deep in my soul. I get teary-eyed just at the thought of them even being in the World Series, let alone what will happen when they win. I know I will be a sobbing, happy mess. And yes, I did say WHEN they win and not IF they win. I have the utmost faith in my Tigers. I know Justin, Miguel, and Prince are going to come through big time for me.
You know who I love best? Tiger's manager, Jim Leyland. He is an emotional guy, getting choked up on a somewhat regular basis, when talking about his team, the fans, and the city of Detroit. He started out as a GM factory worker, making windshields at the plant where his dad was the superintendent. He is Midwestern to the core, growing up in Ohio. He just seems like a loyal, good family man and a terrific manager.
You know what else I love? The Sarasota connection to the Tigers team - third base coach, Gene Lamont. I have only met Gene once or twice and it was some time ago, about 20 years or more. His wife, Melody was in my Junior League Provisional class, and I have worked on committees with his daughter, Melissa DeMore. I love to catch a glimpse of Gene in the dugout or by third base, as it somehow makes me feel even more connected to the team.
My other favorites are Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, pitching phenom and last year's Cy Young Award winner and MVP, Justin Verlander, and the hulking home run hitter, Prince Fielder. As you probably know, Prince's dad Cecil, was also a standout for the Tigers in his day. I know they have been estranged, but I SO hope they are able to share this wondrous moment together. If they aren't, don't tell me because it will make me too sad. I don't want to leave out other fabulous players like Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Alex Avila, Phil Coke, Doug Fister, and I am most certainly not going to leave out Papa Grande, Jose Valverde. I don't care that he almost lost the first game of the ALCD series. He has been just marvelous in many a game and I, like Jim Leyland, am not going to lose faith in him now.
I do miss the "Voice" of the Tigers, the late Ernie Harwell. He was the Tigers announcer for 42 years. He passed away in 2010. I can still hear Ernie's voice in my brain. I heard it as a little girl when my dad watched the Tigers and heard it as a big girl the first seven years we were first married and lived next door to my in-laws. On lazy Sunday afternoons, my father-in-law would rest in his bedroom with the radio blaring, as he was/is a little hard of hearing, and the sound would drift outside and over to our house. It wasn't annoying, it was comforting. I still take the best naps with the sounds of a baseball game in the background.
On Saturday night, the third game of the series and the first one not on a school night, my eight-year-old grandson, Brodie - the only other REAL Tigers fan in the family - and I will be donning our official Tiger baseball caps with the beloved old English D (Yes, I do own a Tigers baseball cap and I do wear it while I watch all the games), we'll eat pizza together while sitting on the couch, yelling and whooping it up, and we will engage in the doing what baseball does best, bonding families together and making magical memories - thank you in advance, my Tigers.