It seems like it will be a celebration every five years -- honoring the last Tigers World Series Championship team. It happened in June 2004, September 2009 and again Monday night before the Tigers-A’s series opener.
It featured the best double-play combo in baseball, Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker. Dan Petry was there. He won 18 games in 1984. Others were there too, like Juan Berenguer, Tom Brookens, Dave Rozema, Johnny Grubb and Darrell Evans.
I had a chance to greet and chat with all of them. I also had the opportunity to visit with Paul Carey, who teamed with the Hall of Fame voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell, for 19 years, perfectly describing Tigers games on the radio.
It was special for me.
As a kid growing up in Farmington Hills, I used to lie in bed at night with my window open listening to their broadcasts before I fell asleep. In between at-bats while playing ball with my friends at the baseball field at Dunckel Junior High School, I used to pretend to be Ernie and "Mr. Carey."
As I watched the Tiger greats tell stories of that special season, I asked other members of the media if that team is honored appropriately. Most of us agreed the organization has failed miserably at recognizing the franchise's last title holder.
I don’t mean by having this "event" every five years. I mean something in the park itself. There's one link to the '84 team -- Sparky Anderson's #11 on the right centerfield wall, and even that ceremony was done posthumously in 2011.
The Walk of Fame along the concourse displays the rich history of the Tigers, from the 1800s to today, and the 1984 club is recognized there. Of course, so are teams from the 1970s. Their World Series trophy is on display in a ballpark restaurant, and throughout the Tigers offices there are framed pictures of that special season. But where is the acknowledgement inside the park?
My friend Rob Parker told me the Mets went through the same thing when they opened Citi Field. The front gates recognize the Mets history as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson, but it took them a couple of years to pay homage to the 1986 World Series team. The main reason the team caved and finally acknowledged that club was because of fan outrage.
Where is our voice? Why are we not more disappointed that Trammell, Whitaker, Morris, Gibson and Parrish aren't more prominent? These guys were drafted and nurtured here. They were synonymous with the Tigers and had their best years of their career here. They are the measuring stick for every player at their position here.
Comerica Park has been around 14 years now, and still just a minimal sighting of anything that resembles the 1984 team. I know people care, otherwise fans wouldn't have shown up hours earlier than they usually do Monday night to honor the team.
Something needs to be done! Let's hope it doesn't take another five years to act. Let's hope it's not just another promotional event on the team calendar, but instead a permanent thing inside Comerica Park, so kids can ask their parents about the 1984 Detroit Tigers and learn more about one of the greatest teams this city has ever had. The players from 30 years ago deserve it, and so do the fans who will never forget that team.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.