The Way it Was – Opening Pitch at Briggs Stadium

Photograph courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

1951 He may not look as dashing as Justin Verlander on the mound, but for a politician Detroit Mayor Albert E. Cobo looks pretty confident throwing out the first pitch at Briggs Stadium (later renamed Tiger Stadium) on opening day in April 1951. (This season’s first game at Comerica Park is March 31, the first of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.) As a young man, Cobo owned two candy stores in Detroit but later became sweet on business and politics. While at the Burroughs Corp., the Detroit-born Cobo was “lent” to the City of Detroit to iron out its financial crisis during the Depression. He never returned to Burroughs and was elected Detroit’s treasurer. He was elected mayor of Detroit in 1949 and served until 1957. Cobo was responsible for overseeing the building of downtown’s Civic Center. He also expanded the city’s freeway system, but came under fire because it resulted in the leveling of many thriving Detroit neighborhoods. A Republican, Cobo ran for governor of Michigan against G. Mennen Williams in 1956 but was trounced. The next year Cobo died in office of a heart attack. He was 63. But Cobo’s name lives on in Cobo Center (originally Cobo Hall).