Monday, May 24, 1993...
For a day where I doubled back so often I drove 340 miles to end up less than 100 mi. from where I began, today was a rousing success. It began on US 12 west, where I soon realized that current 12 diverges from old 12 someplace around Ypsilanti and doesn't meet it again until the Indiana border. While old 12 (Michigan Avenue across most of the state) follows the path of I-94, new 12 (Chicago Avenue, most of the way) turns southwest, running 20-30 miles south of the old route. Looks like the change was made forty years ago, from the buildings along the "new" route.
First stop was Ypsilanti, where I was handsomely rewarded for taking Business 12 into town instead of US 12 around it. Downtown Ypsilanti had several wonderful old hanging signs in front of its storefronts -- a bakery and shoe store proved the real prizes. The road then turned south of Ann Arbor, through small-town Michigan for the next eighty or so miles until the junction with I-69 at Coldwater, where I turned north to catch up with I-94 eastbound. The highlights here were Irish Hills, a region chock-full of "family entertainment" (even a drive-through dinosaur park), and the Michigan International Speedway on the east end, and Allen, MI, which bills itself as the state's antique capital and gave me no reason to doubt the claim.
Once pointed east again, I revisited the old neighborhood in Ann Arbor, wandering around the Michigan campus and stopping at the original Borders Bookstore and Schoolkids Records, which, along with the video arcade half a block from my apartment, was a staple of my law school years.
I continued on to the Henry Ford Museum, where the Automobile in American Life exhibit can quicken the pulse of any road tripper -- classic cars, a restored diner, tourist cabin and drive-in theater marquee, an original Holiday Inn "Great Sign," photos, road signs and posters galore. Most of the other attractions are dry-as-dust depictions of technological improvements, though there are three other eye-popping sights: the car in which John F. Kennedy was shot (a presidential limousine, later restored and placed back in service); the bloodstained chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated, along with items in his possession at the time; and a test tube purportedly containing Thomas A. Edison's last breath, captured at Henry Ford's request. Found several obscure titles in the museum bookstore, too.
Then came the day's major event, a ballgame at Tiger Stadium. Knowing of the parking problem, I reached Tiger Stadium two hours before game time and became the third car ushered into a nose-to-tail lot across the street from the ballpark, The stadium gates weren't even open when I bought my ticket! For $11 I got a seat in the third row of the lower reserves, just behind the field boxes and about 15' up the first-base line. The seat would've been perfect if not for one of the Tiger Stadium pillars in front and to the left, which would have blocked my view of the Tigers' dugout and the auxiliary scoreboard if I'd been forced to sit in the actual seat. Fortunately, I wasn't...
I had lots of time to wander around, both in and underneath the stands. There's a huge food court right inside the gates, with a Little Caesar's pizza place not unsurprisingly occupying the spot of honor, then fans are allowed to wander virtually at will. In sharp contrast to many modern stadia, where the field boxes are kept isolated from the rabble, Tiger Stadium allows any ticketholder to wander right down to the front rail and around the park without being molested. Except for the pillars, the sightlines are excellent, and of course the pillars permit much closer upper-deck seating. Another surprise: it's possible to walk into both the home and visitors' clubhouses directly from the walkway underneath the stands, and neither appeared to be locked! The park offered the usual assortment of ballpark food, with nothing special. On the down side, out-of-town scores were posted only between every second or third inning, and the scoreboard operator misspelled Alan Trammell's last name even though this is his 17th season in Detroit
The game was exciting enough: Boston took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth; Detroit tied it in the eighth and pushed the potential winning run to third in the bottom of the ninth; then Boston took advantage of Milt Cuyler's mental error in diving for a ball he couldn't reach to push across a run in the top of the tenth to win. After the game, as after all Monday-night home games, young fans were allowed onto the field to run the bases.
And, I almost got my first foul ball! In the seventh inning Scott Fletcher fouled one back at me. I stuck my right hand up to catch it as it swerved on a path over my shoulder, but it hit the palm of my hand (stinging like hell) and bounded back four rows. Chalk up an E for the road tripper... Got back on the road by 10:30, then stopped at a motel in Jackson an hour and a quarter later, tired but satisfied...
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