The Way It Was

On Opening Day in 1911, the Tigers locked horns with the Chicago White Sox during a raging snowstorm.


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Photograph courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library (Ernie Harwell Sports Collection)

1911 Naturally, everyone hopes for bright skies and warm temperatures for the Tigers’ Opening Day, but Mother Nature often has other ideas. That was the case on Opening Day at Bennett Park in 1911, when the Tigers locked horns with the Chicago White Sox during a raging snowstorm. Pictured is Detroit outfielder Davy Jones (nicknamed “Kangaroo") at bat and Chicago catcher Billy Sullivan. The hardy souls in the stands who braved the snow were rewarded for their resolve as the Tigers went on to defeat the Sox, 4-2. Bennett Park, at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull avenues, was erected in 1896 and named after catcher Charlie Bennett, who played for the old Detroit Wolverines until 1888. His playing career ended when he lost both legs in a railway accident in 1894. Bennett threw out the first pitch every Opening Day until his death in 1927. Bennett Park seated only 5,000, but there were a few additions, so that by the end of 1911, 14,000 fans could cram into the stadium. That would be the last year the Tigers would play at Bennett. The stadium was razed and a new ballpark was christened Navin Field, after Tigers owner Frank Navin. That name would last until 1938, when Walter Briggs called the stadium after himself. Another name change came in 1961, when owner John Fetzer dubbed the ballpark Tiger Stadium. This year’s Opening Day at Comerica Park is April 8, when the Tigers tangle with the Yankees — with the weather subject to Mother Nature’s caprices, of course. 

 

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