What was your best day in baseball?

Last night I finished reading The Soul of Baseball – A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America. My only disappointment is that I didn’t read the book sooner. Joe Posnanski, arguably the best sportswriter in America, spent a year traveling the country with Negro League legend Buck O’Neil. The result is an enriching look at an astounding individual, with some baseball thrown in.

I’m always a sucker for baseball books, and have a number in my queue as we speak. As a baseball book it doesn’t disappoint. Posnanski accomplished his mission of writing a book about the Negro Leagues, as Buck had wished. But what makes the book so wonderful is how Posnanski artfully told Buck’s story through Buck’s stories. By the time I finished I felt inspired and optimistic and a little heart broken. That I “felt” anything at the conclusion of a baseball book even surprised me.

Now this has little to do with the Tigers, but I bring this up for two reasons. First, the paperback verison just recently was released.

Second, I borrowed the title of this post from the book. It was a question that O’Neil asked regularly. I thought it would make for some nice reader participation as countdown the last days towards the start of the season.

My best day? Hard to pinpoint. I of course remember my first game I attended. I remember some special times playing. But I think my best day is relatively recent. It was the night that Magglio Ordonez hit the homer clinching the AL Pennant in 2006. It’s not my best day because the Tigers won, but because I experienced it with my kids.

What was your best day in baseball?

30 Comments

  1. Chris in Nashville

    March 25, 2008 at 9:11 am

    One of my first memories is Kirk Gibson’s HR in game 5 of the 1984 World Series (I was 5 at the time) and my dad (who is from Mount Clemens and why I’m the huge Tigers fan I am today) cried. I don’t remember much about it, other than it happening, so I’m going to go ahead and say Maggs HR too in ’06 to clinch the AL Pennant…though…when Grandy fell down in Game 4 a week and a half later trying to get to David Eckstein’s fly ball, that might have been my worst moment :(.

  2. Blake

    March 25, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Like Billfer, I recall my first game very fondly. I don’t remember anything from the seasons of 1984 or 1987. I remember really getting into the clubs in 1990 and 1991. My earliest big baseball moment was staying up late in 1990 to listen to the final game of the year to see if Cecil Fielder would get to 50 HR or not. I loved that.

    My favorite moment that in person is a two way tie.

    1. I was at a game at Tigers Stadium when Ken Griffey Jr was still with the Mariners. My family had seats for this game (our only game of the year) in the front row, right by the Mariners dugout. During infield practice a Mariner (whose name escapes me now) threw a ball and I was thrilled. As the outfielders jogged in Ken Griffey Jr saw me with the ball and said, “hey, want me to sign that for you?” Of course I said yes and I still have the ball. I’ll never sell it.

    2. The two home games against the Yankees in the playoffs in 2006. I was at both games. I was right behind home plate for the game where Rogers just completely shut down the Yankees. Everyone was going absolutely nuts. We exited Comerica onto the streets that night and was just a huge party. The next day we wandered over to the stadium and saw Bonderman and the Tiger offense end the series and the players ran around the field, partying with the fans.

    Good stuff.

  3. Fritz

    March 25, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Dads and/or kids are probably a hugely important to any “best day in baseball” moment. It’s no mistake that Field of Dreams ends with that ultimate male tear-jerker, “Dad, want to have a catch?” So I’m going to go ahead and say mine is the last day of the 1987 season, when the Tigers completed their sweep of the Blue Jays to earn a division title. Like Chris’s memory of Gibby’s homer in 1984, I don’t remember much about that game either. (Did Frank Tanana really pitch a 1-0 shutout? That’s some clutch junk!) But I was watching the game with my dad and his best friend in the upstairs TV room on the ratty, old, green couch. They were excited, my dad gave me his Tigers cap (which I still have), and the Tigers earned a fan for life, though he was bred in Virginia.

  4. Kathy

    March 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

    I’ve only attended 3 MLB games and all were at the CoPa. In 2005 I had front row tickets right next to the Tigers’ dugout and they played the Yankees. Won’t tell you how much I payed for those seats. Last year I went to the Red Sox game which went on for 13 innings and the Tigers won. Both great great games. Oct. 14, 06 is the best. An opportunity occured the night before the game to purchase 2 tickets and my son and I attended. I doubt any game will ever be more memorable for me than that one. The absolute joy all around us and being stuck in the middle of intersections for hours while fans all around us were celebrating. Unforgettable! We both have placques of Maggs hitting the HR on our living room walls.

  5. Mark

    March 25, 2008 at 9:32 am

    My best day in baseball was my first major league baseball game. I went to a Yankee Red Sox game and sat in a luxury box with my uncle. It was great. And the game was one of the best games that i ever saw with chad curtis jumping over the wall in the eightth inning to save the game. And Mariano Rivera coming in to the hells bells in the ninth to close it out.

  6. Chris in Dallas

    March 25, 2008 at 9:52 am

    The Maggs HR was definitely the most exciting moment I can remember, not just as a baseball fan but as a sports fan in general. How often do you get to see the team you lived and died with (mostly died) your whole life win the pennant in such dramatic fashion? I couldn’t talk for two days afterwards becuase I blew out my vocal chords. Another fond memory was Lou Whitaker (my favorite Tiger growing up) hitting a HR off of crack-era Dwight Gooden in the All-Star Game wearing a jersey he bought at the stadium because he forgot his. Or Trammell hitting a walkoff grand slam against the Yankees on a 3-2 pitch when the Tigers were down 3. Just like you drew it up in the back yard. Or any one of the games I’ve gotten to go to with my Dad. I grew up in Philly, and every year he used to take me to Memorial Stadium (and later Camden Yards) in Baltimore to see the Tigers play the Orioles. Good times.

  7. Kyle J

    March 25, 2008 at 9:59 am

    My best day in baseball was the Verlander no-hitter last season. My wife and I decided to take our kids to the game that night on the spur of the moment because we had some free ticket vouchers.

    Greatest sports-related decision I’ve ever made. Sixty years from now, my two boys will be able to tell their grandkids about being at that game.

    Honorable mention:
    1) Kenny Rogers ALDS win vs. the Yankees.
    2) Come-from-behind win in Toronto last spring; Magglio threw us a ball during BP.
    3) 3:30 a.m. win vs. the Yankees on the Guillen walk-off HR.

    For someone who only makes 5-6 games per year, I’ve really been fortunate in terms of the games I’ve attended these last two years.

  8. Rick G

    March 25, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for the book suggestion Billfer, here’s one I read a while back that I really enjoyed (it also just came out in paperback)
    Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, … by Cait Murphy. It tells the story of the 1908 pennant chase, giving a lot of great background stories.

    Another one I haven’t read (yet), but gets great reviews on Amazon.com is The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs: Recrowning Baseball’s Greatest Slugger by Bill Jenkinson – it looks to have some pretty interesting statistical analysis.

    Some of my best days in baseball:

    August 5th, 2006 – Pudge hits a 9th inning homer off Carmona to win the game 4-3 (I was there with my wife & kids, plus it was a fireworks game!) Kenny Rogers gave up 3 runs in the first inning, but settled down nicely after that.

    October 5th, 2006 – Tigers beat the Yankees with Verlander pitching, 4-3, to even the ALDS at 1-1. The Tigs redeemed themselves, showed they could compete after tanking the end of the regular season. And there’s nothing like the atmosphere of a daytime playoff game. Plus, my beloved Carlos Guillen hit a homer. :)

    Every time I play catch with or pitch wiffleball batting practice to my kids, seeing their gradual improvement.

  9. Travis in Baton Rouge

    March 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Well, I will change things up a little bit. My best day in baseball is probably a two-way tie and both are from college games. I went to LSU so naturally I’m a big fan of more than one Tiger team. The first was the 1996 College World Series championship game. Bottom of the 9th, two out, one on and LSU was down by 1 to Miami. Up steps Warren Morris (see there is a Detroit connection) who had not hit a homer all season. First pitch, boom! Home Run. My wife and I were at a bar watching and we went absolutely balistic. I cannot remember being that excited before or since (though Maggs HR was close).

    The second came recently. We took our two daughters to an LSU game a few weeks ago. The girls just like to play in the playground area but I made sure we were in the stands for the 7th inning stretch. While they had sung “Take me out to the ballgame” many times before, it was a real thrill to see the joy in their faces as they sang it at an actual ballgame. I’ll never forget that.

  10. Alex in Maryland from GPW

    March 25, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I have been a Tigers fan since I was born, I remember as a child going to Tiger stadium on weekends to games, but by far the greatest game I’ve ever been to was Verlander’s no-hitter. I hadn’t been home in 6 months and It was one of the first nights home with my family, we decided to go to the game, turned out to be an amazing game, once in a lifetime game that I’ll probably never see again. To top it off, the fans were great and Comerica Park was going crazy.

  11. Chris

    March 25, 2008 at 11:30 am

    For me it’s got to be game 7 of the 1968 World Series – beating the immortal Bob Gibson, Mickey Lolich pitching on 2 days rest, coming back from a 3-1 game deficit. I was 10 years old & I fell in love with baseball in general and the Tigers in particular.

  12. Ronnie DeLaura

    March 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Lets see. Ive been to many great games. One of my favorite is Verlanders no-hitter last year. I was with my sister, and two nephews 18 rows behind home plate. I remember in the 7th inning I leaned over to one of my nephews who is 10 and can seriously name every tiger over the past 3 years by memory. Well anyways I told him we could be seeing history in the making and low and behold it happened and the place went crazy! The whole 06 playoffs were great, every game. One that really sticks out to me though was I cant remember the date but we were playing the Chi sox early in the year and we had one game against them and a make-up game right after. Well the first game went something like 13 innings and Im not sure about the second but it was deathly cold and this was back in Tiger stadium so it was REALLY cold. I was probably 11 back then. I remember eating malt-cups and we had a 10 min snow delay that day as well between games. We sat out on the leather couch in right field during that. Wow, now thats a memory. I wish I could tell it better.

  13. Stephen

    March 25, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Fenway Park, Opening Day 1988. Red Sox-Tigers. Standing room only ticket.
    Jack Morris and Roger Clemens battle for nine innings. In the 10th, Trammell wins it with a home run off Lee Smith in his Boston debut. Next day, Boston Herald has following headline: Wait ‘Til Next Year!

  14. Bix in Boise

    March 25, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Great idea, billfer.

    Lots of great Tiger memories from the Tiger Stadium days, but they all got surpassed a couple years ago.

    – I got incredibly lucky the day tix went on sale and got 4 to Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. I called my then 63 year old dad and said “Pops, clear your calendar, I just got WS tickets and I’ve already bought us plane tickets. We’re going to game 1.” 4 days later he, my wife, and I flew from Boise back to Det and went to the game (our 4th was one of our cousins that lives in Detroit). Being there with them — especially my dad, also a lifelong Tiger fan that grew up in Saline and tells stories about listening to the ’68 series on a short wave radio while in the Peace Corps — was a once in a lifetime experience.

  15. Ryan in Brooklyn

    March 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Mid 80′s, County Stadium in Milwaukee. Growing up in the north Chicago suburbs, we used to catch the Tigers when they came in to play the Brewers. Before the game, George Kell and Al Kaline were on the field taping some sort of pregame report. We waved and yelled “Go Tigers” to them. George Kell motioned for us to have a seat right in front of where they were taping and wait. When he finished, he came over, shook all our hands, signed autographs and was just an all-around great guy. I’ll never forget it.

    Close second is every time my 3 year old son tells me he wants to wear his Tigers hat.

  16. Chris in Nashville

    March 25, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Just wanted to say…this is really cool reading all of these. Great idea for a thread Bilfer.

  17. ez

    March 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Great tales everyone…

    I will go with several and say Rogers’ game against NY. Remember that was when the Series was tied at one game. All the national media, and I do mean AAAALLLLL, were saying that the Tiger’s had a nice ‘show me’ win by some kid named Verlander and that Rogers was the choke artist of all time, and we AAALLLL remember how the Yankees had “The Greatest Lineup Of All Time” and blah, blah, blah. Kenny pitched the game of his life, and I got to watch 3 innings of it from the West Side Beer seats two rows behind the Tigers dugout (about 15 feet from the on deck circle). Wow. Watching Matsui talk to himself in Japanease walking back to the dugout after ANOTHER whiff was priceless. Oh yeah, and that game we pounded the living H$ll out of none other than MR. PLAYOFF Randy Johnson.

    I will never, EVER, forget Rogers tip of the hat to the crowd… Goosebumps just writing about it…

    The Yankees packed up the series after that game. They knew they were beat…

    Second place (oddly even ahead of seeing Game 3 of the ’84 Playoffs-nice pitching Milt), was seeing Alan Trammell’s first win as Manager in ’03. I think there were 12 of us in the stands that day… Shane Halter hit the game winning home-run and we watched Franklyn German do everything in his power to lose the game, but to no avail… The Tigs finally had won a game for their skipper.

  18. Mark in Chicago

    March 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Wow, a bunch of great entries. The entire summer of 2006 was an absolutely incredible period, topped off with my favorite moment when Maggs sent us to the World Series. After years of wandering (hopelessly lost) through the wilderness, it was time for redemption. I still crack a smile whenever I think about it, I hope that feeling never goes away.

  19. Tom in Lakeland

    March 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Game 3 of the 1968 World Series at Tiger Stadium. My sister and I sat in the lower-deck bleachers in center field, out past the flagpole. Earl Wilson started for the Tigers against the mighty St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers lost, but I’ll always remember the thrill of my first (and to date only) World Series game.

  20. Joel in Seattle

    March 25, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    As a Tigers fan who hasn’t ever lived close to Detroit, I read your stories and get jealous. Most of my memories of the Tigers in person involved watching pillow fights between the Tigers and M’s in the Kingdome. Just watching Alan Trammell step out of the dugout in person was always a huge thrill.

    Watching Maggs’ HR on TV in 2006 was a pretty great moment, especially since I was able to share it with my dad, who blessed me with his love for the Tigers.

  21. John in Colorado

    March 25, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I have a couple of best days. My first (and unfortunately the only games) I went to with my Dad in Milwaukee on a weekend in 1977 to watch Detroit play. The next would be Game 5 of the 1984 World Series when Gibson hit the home run off of Gossage. The last would be the first ballgame my kids got to go to with me. It was the opening series of Major League Baseball in Colorado in April of 1993 to watch Colorado play Montreal in front of 80,000+ fans.

  22. Bix in Boise

    March 25, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Billfer’s got us all reminiscing now, so I’m chiming back in with another Tiger moment. In addition to my above post about Game 1 of the 2006 WS, I’d add this one:

    June 12, 2005 @ COL. My brother lives in Denver, and we were going to be in town for his wedding on the 11th, so Pops, the Mrs. Bix (actually she was still my fiance then) and I decided that it couldn’t be chance that the Tigers were in town for interleague play. We got 3 in the front row right on the rail down the right field line, about one section past the infield — amazing seats — and chatted with C-Mo all day as he trotted in and out to RF. Some COL fans a few rows behind us were on him all day, and he was playing/laughing right back. Great to see. Preston wilson hit 2 of the longest solo shots I’ve ever seen in person…Bull Durham “Anything that goes that far should have a stewardess on it”-type blasts. Also, we nearly died when Garrett Atkins was late on a fastball in the 1st inning and absolutely ROCKETED one that short-hopped the wall right in front of us…people (including my wife) bailed out and I stayed in to try to make the grab (had my glove, of course) but the dude 3 seats to my left jumped/reached right in front and tipped it so that it screamed just over my mitt. I about decked the dude for being a tool. If you gonna reach in front of me, MAKE THE PLAY SUCKA! :) Beautiful day, tho, and another great day with Pops and the Mrs Bix.

  23. Jenius

    March 25, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    If you mean on any level, then winning our Little League Championship over our hated arch rivals when I was 12. (Even our coaches hated each other.) Only championship I ever played on.

    At the MLB level, it was forcing my dad to take a week off so we could head to the final game at Tiger Stadium. He kept that ticket stub in his wallet for the rest of his life.

    Got some video of that night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wykABkcRQPc

  24. Rock & Rye

    March 25, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    I was there for Game 4 of the ALCS, and I still get goosebumps everytime I see that HR.

  25. Jason

    March 25, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I, too, saw Justin Verlander’s no-hitter in the RF seats with two friends from my old high school youth group, Sean MacLennan and Amy Hamlin. The Brewers batted Craig Counsell and Tony Graffinino 1-2 that day; he had to play Counsell since Rickie Weeks was hurt, but Ryan Braun (who had just been promoted) should have played 3B. I thought, “How nice of Ned Yost to start his lineup with two outs.”

    Though I was sober, I shouted, “Let’s go Jus-TIN!” and “Come on, Just-TIN” like a drunk man, and kept it up since he wasn’t allowing any hits. Still, I thought a no-hitter was crazy until Magglio made his sliding catch on Corey Hart’s line drive in (I believe) the 7th. Then I was telling everyone in earshot, “That’s it – every no-hitter has one crazy web gem, and we just saw it.”

    In the 9th, I’ve never heard a ballpark so loud. Comerica Park was shaking. I cannot have a bigger thrill, as a Tigers fan, than the last out, unless I see them win the World Series in person.

  26. Jim

    March 25, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    When I was a youngin my dad participated in a fantasy baseball camp at Tiger Stadium. I remember ribbing my dad because he had a play at the plate and didn’t topple the guy over, he just kind of got tagged out. It was a friendly game I guess.

    I also remember just having free reign in the stands while they played. Running all over the park with the seats empty was quite remarkable.

    Honrable mentions:
    Random game in 1998 http://www.baseball-reference......4190.shtml
    For whatever reason I remember Brian Moehler and Hideki Irabu dualing.

    I was there for the last game at Tiger Stadium too and the thing I remember the most was a woman sitting behind us just absolutly bawling her eyes out.

    I was there for the Verlander no-no, the two ALDS yanks games and game 2 of the WS. All good memories.

    Worst memory was sitting with my friends watching the final WS game. Inge strikes out and just sitting there silent. Everyone wanted to turn it off but I had to watch the celebration, seeing Jim Leyland almost in tears afterward. Sigh.

  27. Rene

    March 26, 2008 at 4:59 am

    I would have to write a novel to explain it, but it was definitely the Ordonez home run. I’ve lived to see the ’68 and ’84 series, but as a lifelong Tiger fan, that hit brought more tears to my eyes then any hit I’ve seen. Perhaps it was the lean years leading up to it, but it was the hit that made me think this might be it for me, the last chance to see my team win it all. Of course now I’m thinking I will get to see my team as a dynasty of the new millennium, and that they will win it all for the next couple of years. Go Tigers!!

  28. ck

    March 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    June 28, 1976. Fidrych pitching against the Yankees. I was 8 years old and sat in the lower deck of left field. I got swept up in the mania surrounding “The Bird” and have never dropped my allegiance to the Tigers.

    As an adult, I’ve lived in New York (through the blasted dynasty, ugh.) and now live in Boston (another painful place to be a Tiger fan) and still wear the Olde English D with pride.

  29. Pingback: Spartans Weblog » What was your best day as a Spartan?

  30. Pingback: Detroit Tigers Weblog 2008 Year in Review