At the site of old Tiger Stadium in downtown Detroit, local squads will compete in the Tri-County Classic at the Corner April 13-15.

At the site of old Tiger Stadium in downtown Detroit, local squads will compete in the Tri-County Classic at the Corner April 13-15.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Old Tiger Stadium site to host high school tourney

By: Timothy Pontzer | C&G Newspapers | Published April 5, 2018

 Artificial turf field has replaced the old playing surface of Tiger Stadium. The site will also serve as the headquarters of the Detroit Police Athletic League.

Artificial turf field has replaced the old playing surface of Tiger Stadium. The site will also serve as the headquarters of the Detroit Police Athletic League.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

DETROIT — Prep players from across the metro Detroit area will descend downtown for a baseball tournament, mixing a new tradition with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

On a site that hosted two World Series and a pair of NFL title games, four teams from the C & G coverage area will join four other high schools for the inaugural Tri-County Classic at the Corner April 13-15 at the old Tiger Stadium site, located at the corner of Michigan and Trumball avenues. 

The newly refurbished facility opened late last month under the title The Willie Horton Field of Dreams presented by Meijer, at The Corner Ballpark presented by Adient.

Rochester High, Troy High, Macomb Dakota, Sterling Heights Stevenson, the University of Detroit Jesuit, Plymouth Salem, Detroit King and Detroit Western will participate, with each playing two games. 

“For the kids, it will be exciting to play at a first-rate field and facility,” Rochester coach Eric Magiera said. “We also did this for parents because we know they grew up going to the old stadium. It’s been gone for a while, but this will be a really cool way to return and enjoy it.”

Magiera is serving as the tournament coordinator for the event. He said he is thrilled to put together a field of quality teams from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

“Part of the goal was to put together a solid field of schools from all over,” Magiera explained. “Teams will get a chance to play a team they wouldn’t regularly play in an incredible environment.”

The old sod that former greats like Horton and Ty Cobb played on has been replaced by brand-new artificial turf. Where the towering double-decker stands stood now features a new building that will serve as the headquarters of the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL). 

The first contest will pit Magiera’s Falcons against Detroit King at 6 p.m. April 13. Prior to the tilt, an opening ceremony will feature all eight teams donating baseball equipment to PAL.

“I’ve been working with PAL for a couple years now. They do some amazing stuff for kids downtown, and ever since they thought of renovating that site, we wanted to be out there,” Magiera said. “I remember my dad taking me to games when I was younger. I still have the ticket stub from the first game I went to in 1980. I went to the final game as well. It will be really cool to be out there.”

The site itself housed Bennett Park, built in 1895, complete with wooden grandstands. In 1912, the steel and concrete Navin Field was opened. Renamed Briggs Stadium and finally Tiger Stadium, the venue hosted the city’s team until 1999. The ballpark was fully demolished in 2009.

“I am the youngest of five boys, and I fondly remember going to games with my family,” Dakota coach Matt Carley said. “I definitely remember the 1984 team. I was 14 years old, in ninth grade, and that was such a big deal. I was a catcher, so I loved getting to see Lance Parrish.”

The Cougars will open the Saturday slate, facing Plymouth Salem at 10 a.m. and then Detroit Western at 1 p.m. April 14.

“We were already supposed to play Salem that day, and then (Magiera) called and asked if we wanted to be part of this,” Carley said. “He called Salem and invited them too. It’s a really unique experience, and I know the kids are excited for the opportunity. We jumped at the chance.”

Carley said the quality of opponents was as much a draw as the nostalgia factor.

“We play a tough league schedule every year, but I also try to set up a tough weekend schedule of nonleague games,” Carley explained. “We try to challenge our kids with the best teams possible, and this definitely does that. It should be great for everybody.”

Troy will complete the second half of the Saturday schedule, facing Detroit Western at 4 p.m. and Stevenson at 7 p.m. April 14.

“This is such a cool thing (Magiera) came up with,” Troy coach Tim Mullen said. “We get to play two great teams early in the year and do it at a place that means so much to everyone in this area. While the kids may not fully realize the history of the place, I know our parents will love getting to come down. It’s a place full of memories.”

Stevenson coach Joe Emanuele, who led the team to a state title in 2005 and has won district titles in nine of the last 10 seasons, thinks the event is a good idea.

“We’re very excited about it,” Emanuele said. “(Magiera) and I are good friends and he’s running the tournament, so we’re looking forward to playing.”

The Titans will also play at 2 p.m. April 15 in the middle game of the event’s Sunday tripleheader.

For full details, visit www.rhsfalconsbaseball.com/classicatthecorner.html.


Tri-County Classic at the corner 

Friday, April 13
• Rochester High vs. Detroit King at 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 14
• Plymouth Salem vs. Macomb Dakota at 10 a.m.
• Dakota vs. Detroit Western at 1 p.m.
• Detroit Western vs. Troy High at 4 p.m.
• Troy vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson at 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 15
• U-D Jesuit vs Rochester High at 11 a.m. 
• Stevenson vs U-D Jesuit at 2 p.m.
• King vs Salem at 5 p.m.