Friday, August 11, 2017

Hamtramck Stadium: That other old baseball stadium

Click the images to enlarge...
It's been 18 seasons since the Detroit Tigers had moved from Tiger Stadium to their new modern grounds at Comerica Park. The old stadium was torn down and the site was left unkempt for several years before a volunteer group, the Navin Field Grounds Crew, came in to clean up the ballpark. Plans are currently in place for a redevelopment of the Tiger Stadium site that is, "expected to include 111 multifamily units and 26,000 square feet of commercial space."
Approaching the stadium ft. an
upside-down construction barrel
Now, Hamtramck Stadium comes into focus. Located in the enclave of Hamtramck, it was home of the Negro National League's Detroit Stars. Great hitters such as Turkey Stearnes (.344 career avg.) took the field for the Stars. After hosting high school and Little League games for several decades, fencing was erected around the old wooden stands in the early nineties.

View from the pitcher's mound
Although the old stadium has gone unused, the other areas of Veterans Park were busy when I was there on a Saturday afternoon. The park contains another baseball diamond as well as a playground and tennis court. Just down the road is the recently renovated Keyworth Stadium, home of Hamtramck high school football and Detroit City FC soccer. Hamtramck Stadium received a $50,000 grant in January and also got a cut of ticket sales from Negro Leagues weekend at Comerica Park. A recent RFP from the city of Hamtramck proposed a renovated multi-use park would host, “recreational and youth league organized sporting, pickup games, concerts, events, movie screenings, and interpretive exhibition ballgames which explore the heritage of the site.”
If you take a walk around the old ballpark, you can see it's charm and potential. It's located on a wide open space which contains another diamond. The old stands are in desperate need of repair but the field isn't far from being usable. Along the third base side there is a cool mural representing the glory days of the Detroit Stars and their star player Turkey Stearnes. After some work Hamtramck Stadium could once again be hosting games and other community events.
"Turkey" Stearnes

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