As long as I can remember I've always been a fan of Detroit sports. Growing up in the upper regions of Michigan - Whittemore Prescott to be exact - there was little else to do then to emulate your favorite sports hero.
Mine growing up was Lance Parrish. I'd stand in the rock covered driveway of our trailer on Cranberry Lake Road and destroy aluminum bat after aluminum bat. I'd never use my Lance Parrish "signed" Louisville slugger for RBL.
The really cool thing about my drive way baseball escapades was the fact that across the street was an empty field that went unused by the farmer down the road. He had it fenced off and weeds had begun to tangle up inside the fence - creating a mini version of Wrigley Field.
It was a simpler time then. I could be out there for hours of unsupervised fun (Mind you, I wasn't as my Mom was inside watching the whole time).
Years and years went by as I climbed the HR leader rankings ... having to go back further and further as I got better and better. At some point it became to easy and I switched to the left side of the plate.
Now let me stop for a second. Let me explain to you something vital in this story. Growing up, we were always poor. My Dad was a hard worker but he quit school when he was young because my G-pa deemed it pointless to go to school when there was bills to pay. That, and as a youth, my dad was a **** up.
So we paid they price for his juvenile tendencies. So growing up we went with out a lot of the finer things other kids had.
But I always got a new baseball glove and bat. Every year. Didn't matter if Dad was laid off or working a job as a cook to make ends meet. I always got my glove. And that's all I ever really needed.
It became apparent however in the fourth grade as we reconvened from another summer vacation filled with staying up late and sleeping in that my growth spurt was just that ... a spurt. Everyone else toward over me.
I was the runt of the liter and frankly my RBL elite skills were not applicable in league sports with actual kids playing. I tried my best but I knew deep down inside I'd retire the greatest RBL player of all-time - but a third string right-fielder for W-P little league.
That's when I really started to follow sports. I couldn't play them so I craved to learn more about them. I read Fran Tarkenton autobiographies, Jim McMahon autobiographies.
I found a treasure chest of old Tiger yearbooks that my Grandma allowed me to live with for a summer.
Sports become an escape for me ... for the tragedies and tribulations of a poor boy from Michigan who watched his Dad bury his father and his daughter.
In 1987 my Dad lost his second daughter to a car accident. That will never be forgotten. We think about it everyday. Still do. Always will.
But Frank Tanana and the Detroit Tigers erased that pain for a brief moment on my Mom's birthday, October 4th.
I can still remember the slow dribbler to Tanana. It seemed like the grass was a mile high, as slow as that ball rolled to Frank.
I can remember Garth Iorg scattering towards first. Tanana throwing the ball underhand, I believe to Darrell Evans.
And then I remember numbness. I remember crying. I remember jumping around like I'd won the lottery - that the world was at peace and complete calmness. All at the same time.
It'd be 10 years before I felt that again when The Wings won their first cup in 42 years. By that time I was away from home for the first time living in hell. But that's for another story.
Just know that the only thing that kept me sane in that year of 97 is this:
The phone calls between my Dad and me; talking about the Wings. For the few hours a night I was able to watch Detroit play, all the hell that was going around me dissapeared. I was home again. I was with my friends. I was safe.
I was only seven in 1984 - but I remember it. But that 1997 season for the Wings will always be my most precious sports memory. I just wish I had been home for it.
The Wings have become the DYNASTY since then - and the Tigers have bounced back from a black hole decade I'd rather not speak of.
So, that leaves us to now. To the present. We can look back all we want on everything we've ever done - good or bad.
But we are where we are now. New's on the tube tells me that GM will file for bankruptcy on Monday. Detroit ... hell, Michigan is in financial ruin.
But our teams keep plugging away. They say they are shutting Detroit down.
Someone better tell my heroes, cuz they sure don't seem scared.