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Lions and Tigers and Pistons? Oh My! The Sports Teams of Detroit

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I grew up in Southfield, Michigan in the very late 1960s and early 1970s. From the time that I was young girl, I have always been a baseball fan. I even attended a 1968 World Series game with my grandfather at Tiger Stadium. Most people remember Tiger Stadium as one of the great baseball fields. I read the Bill Freehan book, Behind the Mask, which was quite unusual for a young girl at that time. I was so into baseball that I collected baseball cards and remember some of my treasures. And yes, my mother threw away my valuable baseball cards as well!

I remember the days of Mickey Lolitch, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, Al Kaline and even manager Billy Martin (former Yankee). Wille Horton was my favorite left fielder. Ahh... Tiger Stadium: Ball Park Franks, Better Made Potato chips, Vernor's and maybe a Stroh's for my dad! The "pop" had plastic on top and mustard was spread with popsicle sticks. Those are my fond baseball memories. I was rooting for Detroit to win the American League Pennant this year and was really disappointed when they didn't. I have never visited Comerica Park but hope that I would feel at home when I saw the familiar orange/blue uniforms. Sadly, Ernie Harwell, the longtime Tiger baseball announcer died earlier this year. I remember the way he used to say, "Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiger Baseball!"

The Detroit Lions were in the background of my childhood years. I wasn't really interested in football (neither was my dad) so I needed to research some facts about the Lions to write this piece. As I expected, it wasn't a pretty sight! The last time that the Lions won a NFL championship was in 1957 (before I was born!) They even sunk to an all-time low in 2008 with the stunning record of 0-16. They lost every single game that they played! It was a record-setting feat that went down in infamy! The Detroit Lions are owned by the Ford family. William Clay Ford, Sr. was the youngest grandson of Henry Ford and the youngest son of Edsel Ford. William Clay Ford, Jr., the current executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, still plays an active role in the Lions management (although I am not so sure he wants to take credit for that!) This year, they have had a remarkable resurgence with a record of 6-2 so far. That's second place behind the undefeated Green Bay Packers! I hope the Lions come roaring back!

As for the Pistons, I grew up interested in basketball as well. The stars of the Detroit Pistons of my time included Bob Lanier, Dave Debusschere (before his trade to the Knicks) and Dave Bing -- now the mayor of Detroit! There were stars like Isiah Thomas (who was a very popular Pistons player but hated by Knicks fans for overspending on salaries and under-performing on the court while he was general manager and head coach), Bill Laimbeer and the infamous Dennis Rodman. Unfortunately, the Pistons have yet to play this year due to the NBA lockout.

Lastly, the Detroit Red Wings have been most consistently great sports team in Detroit history. I grew up close friends with one of hall-of-famer Bill Gadsby's five daughters! This was way before girls ever thought of playing hockey! Bill Gadsby was a 21-year hockey veteran and also, captain of the Chicago Black Hawks and head coach of the Red Wings. The Detroit Red Wings have won the most Stanley cups of any U.S.-based hockey franchise! That's quite a feat! They are one of the most popular franchises in the NHL.

As I have been living in NYC for over twenty years now, so it may be time for me to think about changing allegiances. I guess I should choose between the Yankees and Mets, Giants and Jets, Devils or Islanders and root for the Nets or Knicks. I certainly have been encouraged by my two sons who are fans of the Yankees, Nets, Devils and Giants. I don't think that I will ever be able to root for any other teams than my own hometown favorites. My heart will always remain in Detroit.