Polish American Night In Detroit A Sellout!
DETROIT — Comerica Park had a full house for the 43rd Annual Polish-American Night hosted by the Detroit Tigers. The Minnesota Twins were in town and Anibal Sanchez crafted a nifty one hitter as the home team won, 6-0. Sanchez had a no-hitter until Joe Mauer, lined a single for the Twins with one out in the ninth.
The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning and that was all they needed. Miguel Cabrera broke open the game with a bases loaded hard single down the line past third-base.
Before the game, longtime radio broadcaster Jim Price was reminiscing about the efforts of ambassadorship that Jim Northrup and Tom Paciorek have evoked for youth baseball in Poland. Price along with a host of others were enjoying some of the pierogi, kielbasa, kapusta, golobki and angel wings that were offered during the pre-game meal.
Twins television analyst Roy Smalley spoke on air about the Pitch In For Baseball Foundation and the efforts of Bill Piszek and his family to supply baseball equipment to Kutno, Poland. The facility in Kutno (European Leadership and Training Center), has been at the forefront of youth baseball development. This is the direct legacy of Stan Musial’s efforts and energies. Smalley is also the board president for the Pitch In For Baseball Foundation.
The Polonia dance troupes that entertained before the game started to leave the field of play. All eyes were then on the color guard in centerfield and Robert Szczublewski who sang the Polish and American National Anthems. Before the umpire called “Play ball,” Barbara Raczynski Toboy then threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The stadium roared with applause.
Many throughout the Comerica Park were wearing their red colorful Polish-American tee-shirts which were part of their ticket package and said in Polish, Who is your Tiger? The game supported the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America chapter #1593 scholarship fund coordinated by Walter Ozog and son Chris Ozog. The National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame had an informational booth on the concourse near the right-field foul line.
Pregame music was provided by The Steve Drzewicki Band, Big Daddy and the La De Das, The Kielbasa Kings and The Natural Tones. The post-game fireworks sponsored by Pepsi, along with the contemporary Polish tunes played throughout the stadium kept most in their seats for a natural and spontaneous poprawiny.
The Tigers had another special celebration planned for the next game against the Twins, honoring the 1968 World Series winners. The first 10,000 in attendance received a 45th anniversary commemorative coin, courtesy of Belle Tire. World class guitarist, Jose Feliciano, famous for his performance of the National Anthem before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series, performed the anthem again prior to this game.
By Raymond Rolak
Photo by Lars Hjelmroth