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Peanuts, Cracker Jack, and MORE in Detroit!!! How a Tiger Fan & Foodie Celebrates Opening Day!

Kirk Gibson Homerun 1984

My ‘Spring Training’ for Opening Day in Detroit is essentially effortless. I wake up, look out my bedroom windows at Comerica Park, get Little Dog outfitted in her Detroit Tigers jersey, walk out the front door of my Downtown Detroit loft…and I’m right in the midst of the celebrations!

Fielding texts from friends asking what I’m doing on Opening Day (ummm…Hello?!?!) and hearing from people how jealous they are that I live right in the heart of Downtown Detroit takes a little more time….

But I love how excited everyone in Detroit is for Opening Day, and there is one friend that I especially love to hear from and share my plans with as Baseball Season approaches. I’ve known Marcia since we were kids growing up together in the U.P., 600 miles north of Detroit, and Kirk Gibson was her first crush—at the ripe old age of eight.

Well, this year, not only does Opening Day fall on Marcia’s Birthday, but her first love is throwing out the first pitch.

So, even though it takes me less than 10 minutes to travel to Comerica Park (walking) and it takes Marcia about 10 hours to journey down for a game (which she does many times a season!), instead of advising people on what I think they should do on Opening Day, I decided to out on my catcher’s mitt, call for a curveball, and ask my Lifelong-Tiger-Fan and Foodie friend what she would do on Opening Day…so here are her recommendations!

Batter-Up: Down With Detroit Just like me, Marcia would suit up with a Down with Detroit tee-shirt. Her choice would be ‘Detroit Coney Dog Eating Champion’ tee-shirt!

First-Base: The Hudson Café Marcia’s Grandmother worked at the J.L. Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit in the 1960’s, and Grandma Aileen loved their Maurice Salads. Knowing this (and that Marcia—who may be one of the best cooks and most devoted Foodies I know—has tried to replicate that delicious signature dish), I took Marcia and her mother to the Hudson Café the first time they came to visit me after it opened. As Marcia says, she “fell in love with it. We had the Red Velvet Pancakes and Huevos Rancheros…. They have so many more things I want to try, but I dream of those two dishes!” Since she said she would begin her run of the bases on Opening Day at the Hudson Café, I would suggest she slide into First with the Gameday Chicken and Waffles they will be featuring that day!

If you ask Marcia ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ she will tell you: “My Tiger will always be Ernie Harwell.” His voice is one of her earliest memories, listening to the games in her Grandpa Toivo’s garage (he lived here in Detroit). When Marcia says that those broadcasts (and listening to or watching the games and sharing her love with of the Detroit Tigers with her grandfather) lasted “throughout most of my life”—she means it: her grandfather continued to live here in Detroit and follow the Tigers until he passed away last fall at the end of baseball season. But his jersey won’t be retired anytime soon, since some of Marcia’s favorite memories will always be following the play-by-play of “eating peanuts with Grandpa…him drinking a beer, me with my Faygo.”

Playing Station-to-Station: Given all that, I would recommend that Marcia’s strategy include making a run for the 97.1 The Ticket Annual Opening Day Block Party in Grand Circus Park (it starts at 10 a.m., and admission is FREE which—given that there will be Live Entertainment, Food, and Beverage Tents—makes tagging up at this event a Steal!)

Second-Base: The ElwoodFor Marcia, ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ began when she was seven. She told me that “One of the first bars I remember seeing, which is iconic to Detroit Tigers baseball, is the Elwood. My first trips Downtown to watch ball games began when I was 7, the year they won the pennant. I believe it was built in the 1930’s, and it’s still the best place to grab a beer before the game!” (Marcia’s right on all counts: since 1936, at its original location on Elizabeth and Woodward, this Art Deco diner has been serving it up to customers…who enjoy hit after hit with every visit!)

In Scoring Position: Comerica Park — When I asked Marcia how she would spend her time amongst all the ‘infielders’ enjoying the game, she said having Peanuts and Beer. Beer and Peanuts. Ain’t a thing better in the world!” When she heard about the Downtown Dog, Topped with House-Smoked Pulled Pork, Crispy Onion Straws, Jalapenos, and Sweet Barbecue Sauce and the Corktown Burger,  Topped with Corned Beef, Kraut, Swiss Cheese, and Thousand Island Dressing, she messaged me: “I will definitely be in line for that! And to top it off, nothing beats a ball park hotdog!”

In the true spirit of baseball, Marcia went for a Double Play when I asked her about her next stop on Opening Day.

Third-Base: American and Lafayette Coney Islands — “Who doesn’t love a good Coney Dog!? I LOVE going to American and Lafayette to do Coney Challenges! It is something that never gets old to me!” And naturally in these Made-in-The D Matchups, the Coney-Eater is always the winner!!

Homeplate: The Detroiter Bar and Rub BBQWhile I get an easy ‘walk’ Home every time I go out in Detroit, Marcia and her Mom will always have the same when they come visit me in Downtown Detroit! Before heading back to my loft and recording a ‘W’ for the day, Marcia says she would definitely head to the Detroiter Bar! “I have met some of the best people there! Everyone (the staff and the patrons) are super friendly, and I will always stop there on my trips to Detroit!” And then, even though we’d finished her ideal Opening Day run, Marcia told me, “I could go on and on!!  Rub Pub is amazing. On a dream day I would also hit the Rub post game for a beer and deliciousness!”

Of course, as we’re on the subject of ‘barbeque’ I would also recommend that we go around the horn and walk a block over to The Town Pump Tavern to make a double, and grab a ‘Second Snack’ of Barbecue Chicken Pizza.

Alright. I would also suggest we bring in another Closer and head to the Detroit Beer Co. where we can enjoy their “Baseball Beer.”

Because, when you live Downtown, it is that much better when Opening Day (okay, any day) goes into extra innings.

Three Cheers and a Big Thank you to Marcia for Pitching a Perfect Game (Day)!

Posted on April 6th, 2016 in: Detroit, Detroit Events, Detroit Food, Detroit Sports with the tags: , ,

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