On October 14th, 2006, Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez not only sent the Tigers to the World Series but created a generation of new Tigers fans.
For whatever age label you fall into since the definition constantly changes, (Gen X, Boomers, etc) you remember when you became a fan of your favorite team. For me, I was five years old when I got into baseball and into the Detroit Tigers.
The 1991 Tigers squad was and still is one of my favorite squads because at an early age, my parents subscribed to the Detroit News and I read the box scores and the down on the farm reports. It was the first time reading the works of Terry Foster, Joe Falls, and later, Lynn Henning.
So as the 90’s pressed on and the limelight of the Bad Boys era Detroit Pistons started to fade, so did from my perspective, Tigers fans in plain sight. Where I grew up, everyone was a Braves fan because of local hero Steve Avery and they were good for so long. In the case of my younger brother, it was the Seattle Mariners because of Ken Griffey Jr.
I didn’t know any other person in my school or anyone I played baseball with that loved the Detroit Tigers or said they were a fan aloud. This would be a precedent for this when it came to today’s date in history in 2006.
No one knew it was coming
When the 2006 season started under new manager Jim Leyland, I thought that since what had happened when he left his position in Colorado, it may happen again here. I admit I was shocked and happy when the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez in 2004 however, my attitude at the time was pessimistic because they spend a lot to get him here without addressing the other issues they had. It was going to take more than just Pudge.
Even the Magglio Ordonez signing early in 2005 I met with skepticism due to his knee injury and the treatment overseas that was radical at the time. I like Mags as a player in Chicago but as much of a baseball geek I was, I knew Jason Johnson as your number one starter wasn’t going to cut it.
But the 2006 season to me as the season wore on, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Tigers heading into June in the previous five seasons and even in the ’90s, that’s when the wheels would fall off completely. But this time, they finished 20-7.
Then suddenly, at work, I started getting questions about the team and how their favorite player was Brandon Inge. Joel Zumaya started to captivate the fans and all I was thinking about was how Justin Verlander was my version of Mark Fidyrch since I never witnessed one rookie pitcher for the Detroit Tigers do so well let alone two of them at the same time.
The deal for Jeremy Bonderman was paying off. Trading for once did not hurt the Tigers, as I saw the trade of Placido Polanco give Detroit another second baseman that could be productive, like Damion Easley.
The home run by Ordonez ushered in fans into a new era of Detroit Tigers fans. The number of people in my life who came up with me and patted me on the back saying “You never lost faith” or asked me what I thought about the new crop of fans or bandwagoners, I didn’t care. I finally witness winning baseball.
I screamed into the night sky and was jumping up and down before my ankle gave out when I saw that home run. I sat up, dusted myself off, and just cried. I will admit it and I have no shame of it. What was your reaction and was this the moment you became a fan?