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 and messages 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 there is one friend I especially love to hear from and share my plans with as Opening Day 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. It was a blast from the past when Marcia messaged me last month about how excited she was that Gibson (and Jack Morris) would be ‘returning to Detroit’ via Fox Sports Detroit.
So, even though it only takes me 10 minutes to travel to Comerica Park (walking) and it takes Marcia 10 hours to journey down for a game (which she does many times a season!), I decided to play Catcher on this one, call for a curveball, and ask this lifelong Tiger Fan what she would do on Opening Day….
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 Elwood — For 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! I heard this year they added a new taste to try…bacon topped with deviled eggs and fried jalapeños! I will definitely be in line for that! And to top it off, nothing beats a ball park hotdog!” The ‘Bacon and Eggs’ will be brought to Comerica by Delaware North’s Sportservice, who will also be offering Pork Rinds with Queso Dip, a Coney Quesadilla, Poutine Dog, and a Chips-n-Dip Dog (which comes topped with potato chips and onion dip!)!
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, since they’re both excellent, I am ALWAYS the winner in this challenge!!
Homeplate: The Detroiter Bar and Rub BBQ — While 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 ‘barbecue’ 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 an appropriately named brew, their Simcoe Long Play.
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)!