You might do a double take in the stands this season. But you’re not seeing things. Beloved players from a decade ago will be stepping on the field again.
This season, the Tigers will pay homage to the 10-year anniversary of the 2006 American League championship team. Before the game, fans will have the chance to participate in a Q&A session with returning players from 2006. The former Tigers will also throw out the first pitch. Among those on the lineup: Craig Monroe on April 23, Ivan Rodriguez on May 7, Placido Polanco on June 25, Todd Jones on July 30 and Magglio Ordonez on Aug. 6.
The championship anniversary events were among the slew of new food options, giveaways and promotions at Thursday’s media unveiling at Comerica Park.
New giveaways this season include a retro-style bobblehead for the first 10,000 fans on April 23. The head resembles the Big Boy caricature. “When bobbleheads were first created as a promotional piece of merchandise back in the 50s and 60s, it was this kind of chubby little kid, anonymous style. ...They weren’t necessarily modeled after current players,” says Eli Bayless, director of promotions and sales.
The other free bobbleheads may look more recognizable. The first 10,000 fans will get to take home bobbleheads of Ian Kinsler on May 17, J.D. Martinez on July 16 and all kids will receive a Jose Iglesias bobblehead on July 17. Other freebies for the kids include a Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez silver slugger bat on April 10, “Mighty Miggy” children’s book on May 8 and Miguel Cabrera “Miggy bank” piggy bank on Aug. 7.
Parents should mark their calendar for Kids Opening Day on April 24. Kids 14 and under will receive a Tigers baseball card set and get free rides on the carousel and ferris wheel. The kids may also enjoy the traditional post-game fireworks held Fridays starting May 20 through Sept. 23. Seven Saturday night shows run July 16 through Sept. 24.
Take home Tiger dirt, bases and tees
Fans who want to take home a piece of the park can purchase bottles of dirt, straight from the field on Opening Day. You can also purchase generic dirt from any game during the season as well as blue- and orange-banded watches (the face includes game-used dirt).
Marc Himmelstein, Tigers director of authentics, says the idea was inspired by bottles of Tigers Stadium dirt sold years ago.“We just took that idea and took it to Comerica Park,” he says. “We sell buckets and buckets worth of dirt every year.”
Fans can also purchases new and used baseballs and bases. Opening Day bases are now available on preorder for $350 per base (email firstname.lastname@example.org). Regular game day bases are $200 each. Also new this year: bottle openers made from Cabrera’s team-issued bats. You can order Tigers memorabilia from your phone and have it delivered right to your seat by using the Ballpark app.
Special edition Opening Day apparel includes hats, pins, baseballs, playing cards and T-shirts. “The T-shirt this year has more of a vintage kind of feel to it. It’s a tri-blend material so it’s super soft to the touch,” says retail director Kris Sargeant. The tee will be on sale for $36. If you want one, make sure to get it at the park. “We usually don’t have any left over the next day,” Sargeant says.
The Tigers partnered with Nike and Under Armour again, adding new lifestyle pieces such as women’s yoga pants and athletic T-shirts to the line. For those on a budget, the D Shop will offer six T-shirts for men and women under $30.
Also new: A selection of six Tigers-stamped craft beer glasses. “Since the craft beer craze has kind of taken over everywhere, we decided to get involved with that,” Sargeant says. “We’ve got goblets for different kind of pilsners, Oktoberfest mugs and growlers.”
University Days return for second season
For the second year, eight colleges will be featured throughout the season for Fox Sports Detroit’s University Days. Visit tigers.com/specialevents to purchase a ticket package that includes a ticket and special edition school baseball hat. From your purchase, $5 will go to the school’s scholarship fund. At the game, each school has the opportunity to provide the national anthem performer, first pitch throw, cheerleaders and the school mascot on the field.
Bayless says the program was “very popular” last year. “It’s proven to be even more popular this year,” he adds. “These ticket packages are selling better than they had before.”
And it’s not just Wolverines and Spartans filling the stands.
“You would think that some of the bigger schools like Michigan State or Michigan are the ones that sell the most,” Bayless says, “but Western Michigan, as soon as it was launched, immediately we had to order more hats because interest was so high.”
Scoreboard personal messages now include photos
You’ve seen happy birthday and anniversary announcements blasted across the scoreboard. This season, you’ll see family photos, too. Fans can now share a personalized message with a photo for $100. All proceeds go to the Detroit Tigers Foundation. Messages will appear during the end of the fourth inning and must be sent at least 10 business days before the game.