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My Dad: Future Detroit Tiger circa 1959

I love that this letter comes from Briggs Stadium. I love that there aren’t any zip codes and that “City” is enough to let the United States Postal Service know where to deliver it. And I love that they call him Bob. He's always been Bob.

But what I love most about this letter is that it is addressed to MY DAD. He was quite the ballplayer in his day and besides playing in the Detroit Public School league, he would also bus up to Pontiac during the summer and play up there.

You have been recommended as a future professional baseball player to the Detroit Tiger Organization.

How awesome is that? Can you even imagine this letter dropping in your mailbox?

Also, think about how far away Detroit and Pontiac were in 1959! I-75 was just a glimmer in the Department of Transportation's mind.

This letter is a mystery and a love letter all rolled into one.

My dad was a left-handed pitcher and THE DETROIT TIGERS asked him to tryout for their baseball team! Back then they didn’t rest a pitchers arm. Hell, even when my brother played little league in the 70s, you pitched as many innings as needed.

There have been many myths circulating through the family—and my mind—about what happened on August 15, 1959. “Did he go?” was just the beginning of the rabbit hole that the mind will take you down.

He went. He didn’t make the team. My parents didn’t meet until 1964 so it’s pretty safe to say that I wouldn’t exist if he made the team. After all, we know what baseball players are like.

My dad has told me two different versions of the story. One version was recited over 10 years ago—possibly over beers—and the other just this last August. I won’t tell you all the details because, well, it took me 30 to 40 years to find out what I do know and I’ve enjoyed the mystery.

I will tell you one thing, my dad and Willie Horton were contemporaries in the Detroit Public School league. My dad went to Pershing and Horton was with Northwestern. In fact, Horton is just 3 days older than my dad. When I pressed my dad about Horton last August he confessed, he pitched against him in the DPS league and walked him with the bases loaded. D'oh!

My dad as a young boy in Detroit, ready to play ball.Since that isn’t the way this story was is supposed to end, I’ll tell you another myth about my dad. He lost all his teeth when he was a young teen and has been wearing dentures ever since. My dad is the eldest of six children and my grandparents weren’t rich. He had to get adult dentures before he was really ready for them so his high school graduation picture—with the big white teeth and the widow's peak—looks a bit like Dracula. Or a vampire, which would be totally hip and trendy today.

What I still don’t know is how he lost his teeth. It was either a baseball, a baseball bat or a hockey puck. Really, that’s all I know. And I’m OK with that. What I do know? My dad is pretty awesome.

P.S. My mom may or may not have dated a local Hamtramck boy—BEFORE she met my father—who has gone on to be associated with another Major League Baseball team. My mom is pretty amazing too!

Ah, the mystery!

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Reader Comments (3)

Now we know Who's Your (Almost) Tiger!

Thanks for sharing a colorful, dramatic saga as we start a fresh season of hope, promise and cheering America's pastime.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

Wow that is awesome, there is nothin like the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions!

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHarry

Wow, how awesome is that!
Just a little fyi... the '16' between Detroit & MI stands for 48216. Back then, everyone would just say, Detroit 10, or Detroit 16 when they gave out their address. Every zip back then started with 482_ _. :)

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChadseyGirl

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