Battlefields are known to produce historical artifacts for decades after the fighting stopped such as bullets, cartridges and human remains. Archaeologists continue to unearth physical remnants of once-great civilizations like Egypt and Rome thousands of years later. I wonder what might be found buried at the corner of Michigan & Trumbull.
For the first time since 1911, certain grounds at The Corner will be disassembled and exposed. What will be discovered underneath the stands and field? Are there any remnants of Bennett Park, for example? Are there any trees from the original site that may have been buried? Are there any game-used playing equipment or grounds keeper’s gear or artifacts from the Industrial Revolution?
There is a dialog beginning to formulate on the subject in the Tigertown neighborhood. People are curious to know what may be locked in place at the famous grounds of Tiger Stadium. Who knows? Maybe a Briggs Stadium construction worker buried a Hank Greenberg jersey in the concrete for good luck. Perhaps Ty Cobb had a stash of spike sharpeners that he kept buried underground in a Cuban cigar box. Maybe the original footings for the Bennett Park grandstands and dugouts are still in place.
What about old scorecards and programs that may have slipped between the cracks over the years? Or the souvenirs of World Series appearances gone by? How about old newspapers or coins or cleate spikes or original baseballs and bats?
There remains a chance that the fabled grounds may have served the baseball world as a time capsule of sorts. Remember, baseball was played at the corner of Michigan & Trumbull longer than anywhere else in the world. It remains the longest running site for continuous baseball action even though there hasn’t been a Major League game played there since 1999. Original construction on the site dates back to 1895 with the construction of Bennett Park. That was almost 113 years ago — and predates Henry Ford’s invention of the Quadricycle.
It would be really cool if the city of Detroit allowed an archaeological dig at the grounds to see what might be discovered. More importantly, if anything is found, it should be transported to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum where they would be preserved and safeguarded forever.
My guess? The city will, more than likely, not allow anyone on the site for nostalgic or historical purposes. A construction fence will be erected to keep interested parties out. It would be a terrible shame, however, if historically significant baseball (and football) artifacts were hauled away like garbage. Let’s hope the Detroit media pick up on this and pressure city leaders to take it seriously.