1. The Dream Cruise Walkoff. Detroit Tigers vs Kansas City Royals, August 17, 2013
The Woodward Dream Cruise is an annual classic car show that takes place along Woodward Avenue in metro Detroit during the third weekend of every August. I grew up in Royal Oak, which meant I was intimately associated with this event. This being the same summer that Miguel Cabrera took Rivera over the centerfield wall at Yankee Stadium, I was into going to the Dream Cruise with my friends and likely getting into some sort of inadvisable debauchery. Unfortunately for my plans with my friends, my dad and I had tickets to the Tigers game. They were playing the third-place Royals and had a commanding lead on the AL Central at the time, and all I was hoping for was a quick game so I could get to my buddy’s house just off Woodward for a bonfire.
The Tigers got out to an early 3-0 lead that would be quickly erased in a back and forth affair that was knotted up at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth. I should mention, this was among the loudest regular-season games I have ever attended. With the Royals continuing to display guts in coming back from leads the Tigers would steal, and a tense divisional rivalry, the atmosphere quickly became playoff-like. No sooner had I entered Comerica Park than had I forgotten about my desire to be partying with friends. For a game like this, there was nowhere else I would rather be, and I was especially thankful to be there with my dad.
My dad and I have shared plenty of incredible Tigers moments, whether it’s the aforementioned camping trip blaring Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS out of his car radio, or being at Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS to watch the Tigers send home the invulnerable New York Yankees, or seeing them do exactly that again in 2011, or listening to God only knows how many games on the radio during our many summer road-trips. All of those moments stick out as some of my fondest baseball memories. My dad introduced me to the game. He introduced me to the Tigers. He taught me about their history. He took me to the last game at Tiger Stadium and to the first game at Comerica Park, knowing full well I wouldn’t remember either of them, just to say we were there together. There are moments in adolescence where you separate from your parents. It’s a natural progression for a young kid trying to carve his own path in the world. However, there are moments that bring you back to your roots and remind you of how important those familial bonds can be, and how enduring those relationships can be.
I have no illusions about how fortunate I am to have a good relationship with my dad. It often gets framed, in memory, through baseball. This home run in particular stands out. Miguel Cabrera watched a 3-1 pitch from Aaron Crow meet the barrel of his bat, on his patented flick swing path, as the ball rocketed on a rope into the right-field camera well. From our seats in the right-field bleachers, we saw it all. And then we heard it all, and even through an ear-splitting crowd you could hear the high five my dad and I shared as Miggy walked off the Kansas City Royals.
I didn’t need to be at a party with my friends. There would be plenty of parties. I needed to be at Comerica Park with my dad; and with Miguel Cabrera, my favorite player of all time, giving me one of my favorite memories.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?