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Monday April 21, 2014
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From Detroit to Ann Arbor



Several books about the early history of the Detroit Tigers talk about the running battles that then-owner George Arthur Vanderbeck had with the city of Detroit, mostly over the inadequacies of the Tigers' home, Bennett Field, which stood where Tiger Stadium would be built. For a number of years, it was not at all clear whether the Tigers would stay in Detroit.

Washtenaw County was not exactly unfamiliar territory to the players. In 1902, the team held its spring training in Ypsilanti, according to Tigers director of communications Rick Thompson.

Thompson says there's nothing about Ferry Field in the Tiger organization's archives, and definitive baseball history websites such as don't list it as one of the 1902 Tigers' home fields. But we do know the Tigers played a few games in the area just off South State behind the Athletic Department's new academic support building--from both the picture and local accounts of the time.

Several stories in April 1902 editions of the Michigan Daily refer to Tiger games being played on Sundays, perhaps to skirt Detroit's blue laws, says Brian Williams, associate head of the University Archives & Records Program at the Bentley Historical Library. A snippet in the Michigan Alumnus magazine for 1901-1902 refers to the U-M baseball team's opening its season "after a few preliminary home games with the Detroit Tigers American League team ..."

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