DETROIT — Downtown Detroit came alive last week as baseball enthusiasts from around the world gathered at Comerica Park for Tuesday night’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
But this weekend, life returned to normal.
The crowds that lined Woodward Avenue and Witherell Street to welcome their baseball heroes were replaced by the daily grind. The corporate tents that were erected in spaces surrounding the stadium returned to just parking lots. The lines that formed outside of local eateries became barren sidewalks, awaiting the evening rush.
“It was more electric (for the home run derby and All Star Game),” said Dave Gorski, a Comerica Park usher working his seventh season.“(It was) more festive outside of the stadium with the tents and parties.”
Inside the park, posters advertising the All-Star Game were removed, several promotional booths were gone, and the customary wooden seats with green cushions replaced the All-Star commemorative ones.
ESPN’s broadcast location no longer dominated the walkway in right-center field and auxiliary press boxes along the baselines were dismantled.
At the souvenir stands, much of the remaining All-Star paraphernalia was on sale even as Tigers gear returned to the shelves and displays.
The ballpark’s physical differences were not the only things that fans noticed as they returned to Comerica Park for this weekend’s series between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals noticed.
Diana Hicklen of Westland, who has sat in the first row on the third base line at both Comerica Park and Tiger Stadium since 1976, sees a difference in the makeup of the crowd between the All-Star Game and the weekend series against the Royals.
“There are people from all over the world at the All-Star Game,” Hicklen said. “The regular season games have more of a local crowd.”
One unique aspect of the All-Star experience that Hicklen enjoyed was the presence of several baseball legends in the ballpark. She claimed to have seen Brooks Robinson and Dave Winfield, while Guillermo Hernandez sat a few rows behind her.
Tom Allemon of St. Clair Shores sees a more fan-friendly atmosphere at the games.
“(The regular season games are) much more fan-friendly,” Allemon said. “Everybody is enjoying the game.”
Having the opportunity to attend the All-Star festivities will leave fans with memories they will cherish forever.
For Hicklen, the crowd’s energy when Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez’s finished second in the home run derby will always remain.
“(I will remember) the way the city got behind (Rodriguez) in the home run derby and willed some of those home runs over the fence,” Hicklen said.
Allemon said that he will always remember the sight of seeing the players line up on the field before the game.
After two seasons of anticipating the All-Star Game, Gorski foresees playoff games at Comerica Park this fall.
“Hopefully, we have the playoffs to look forward to,” Gorski said.