Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Stranded At The Corner" A Must-See For Tiger Stadium Fans Everywhere

About a month ago, I urged readers to revisit that wonderful series of old baseball footage called "When It Was A Game", put out by Black Canyon Productions and first seen on HBO.

Today I urge you to get your hands on another baseball documentary, but this one has a local -- if you're a Detroiter -- flair.

"Stranded At The Corner," by filmmaker Gary Glaser, is a 90-minute look at the fight to save Tiger Stadium, and the resistance meeting those efforts. Narrated by Chris Felcyn (longtime host of WDET-FM radio's "The Listening Room" and now a host on classical/jazz WRJC-FM) and written by author Richard Bak ("Cobb Would Have Caught It", and others), "Stranded" is the story of a ballpark, its adoring public, and the ignominious "demolition by neglect" that has seemingly sentenced the stadium to a date with a wrecking ball -- maybe as early as this summer.

Glaser weaves vintage footage of Tiger Stadium -- in color and black & white -- along with many on-camera sound bites and testimonies, plus Felcyn's baritone narration, to tell the story of baseball played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, including when the stadium was known as Bennett Park in the early 20th century, then eventually Navin Field and Briggs Stadium.

The film examines the various plans for Tiger Stadium post-major league baseball that were shot down for one reason or another. It also takes to task the Detroit City Council, and current Tigers owner Mike Ilitch for rebuffing those plans, all of which would keep the stadium useful and even turn it into a potential money maker. Ilitch, the graphic says at the end of the film, respectfully refused to be interviewed for the project. The only member of Council who spoke on camera was Maryann Mahaffey, who's clearly sympathetic to the movement to keep Tiger Stadium from being demolished.

"Stranded" will resonate deeply with anyone who's spent any number of afternoons or evenings at The Corner, watching the Tigers over the years. And the rare clips of action inside the stadium are fascinating, some of which date back over 50 years. Also intriguing was the sight of President John Kennedy speaking in a United States Olympic Committee film, announcing that the USOC had nominated Detroit to be the host of the 1968 Summer Games. Apparently an olympic-sized stadium was to have been built on the State Fairgrounds, and the Tigers were to have played there when the Games ended. This would have resulted in, as Felcyn boomed, "the 1968 World Series being played on Eight Mile Road."

Former Tiger Willie Horton, Tiger Stadium Fan Club President Frank Rashid, longtime usher Fred Rice, and executive producer Peter Comstock Riley (President of Michigan and Trumbull, LLC) are among those seen frequently reminiscing and/or explaining about their roles in the fight to save the stadium. Native Detroiter and actor/comedian Thom Sharp provides comic relief in several on-camera bits shot just outside the stadium, where a guard supposedly is stationed. Sharp gives us funny and sarcastic commentary as he waits for the guard to make his appearance, which never comes of course.

I had the pleasure of viewing the film at its world premiere Monday night at the Gem Theatre downtown, and I strongly recommend you purchasing the DVD, which should be available in stores soon. For more about the film, visit Glaser's website at There's also a story about the making of the film in the current (April) issue of Motor City Sports Magazine (he wrote in a shameless plug for his publication).

"Stranded At The Corner", if you care at all about Tiger Stadium, will make you wistful, angry, and perplexed about its past and apparently doomed future. It'll leave you shaking your head, but is also guaranteed to bring out the nine year-old kid in you who attended his or her first game at the old ballpark.


Blogger Ozz said...

I've checked out and this DVD is definitely on my 'to get' list.

I think that the stadium's future is bleak and the least favorite ending to the story is the one most likely to happen.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...

Sadly, you're probably right, Ozz.

8:43 AM  

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