Detroit — Wednesday night, the crowd at Comerica Park chanted, “MVP, MVP,” as Angels Shohei Ohtani trotted around the bases after walloping a 430-foot home run and dominating the Tigers on the mound for eight innings.
On Thursday, the fans came out to resume stalking history with Miguel Cabrera, cheering wildly as he knocked in four runs with his first two swings in the Tigers’ frustrating 13-10 loss.
Even if historic home run No. 500 is still waiting to be struck, and even if this get-away game became a train wreck for the home team, it was a great series for the game of baseball and a pretty good reminder — on the day that one of the franchise icons, Bill Freehan, died — what a dynamic baseball town Detroit can be.
Angels manager Joe Maddon certainly noticed.
“Detroit is a great baseball city, tremendous tradition,” he told the Associated Press and other reporters via Zoom before the game. “As a kid growing up, I knew everything about them. I’ve gotten to know Willie Horton. I knew Al Kaline. All these guys, my God, Alan Trammell, (Lou) Whitaker, all these guys are really outstanding.
“This city has had a wonderful tradition of baseball and I think they appreciate it.”
Maddon was touched by how the Comerica crowds embraced the ultra-rare talent of Ohtani.
“They understand what he’s doing,” Maddon said. “What they saw him do last night is highly unusual and they may not see it for a long, long time again. It’s not surprising that the people here would do that. They were raised by Ernie Harwell, another wonderful man that I got to know here.”
Maddon said Ohtani hasn’t gotten this type of response in other cities this season.
“Last night, there wasn’t like a throng of Angels fans there,” he said. “Those were Detroit Tigers fans from the last 100 years, screaming for him. It happens, but it takes a special talent to elicit that.”
And to think, there was a time that Maddon was not a fan of Comerica Park.
“I didn’t really get this ballpark when I first saw it,” he said. “But now when you walk in, I really think they did a wonderful job. At first, I thought the seats were too spread out. For whatever reason, it’s grown on me and I think it creates a wonderful atmosphere here and it represents the city well.
“Detroit gets a lot of things right. And, I’m glad to see there’s a lot of progress being made in the city itself. But when it comes to Tiger baseball, it’s as rich as any.”