The Detroit Tigers are proud to host the 20th annual Negro Leagues Weekend, presented by Comerica Bank, from June 17-19, when the Texas Rangers visit Comerica Park. This annual tradition marks the longest- running weekend celebration of its kind in Major League Baseball. Tickets for all three games during Negro Leagues Weekend are currently available at tigers.com/tickets.
Negro Leagues Weekend will be highlighted by the 26th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game on Saturday, June 19. The Tigers will hold a pregame ceremony to raise the “Detroit Stars” flag in center field in honor of the Detroit Stars, who became charter members of the Negro National League in 1920. Several former Negro Leagues players will also be honored during the ceremony.
The legendary Cecil Fielder will be returning to Detroit, and interact with Tigers fans on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, when he will also be presented the Willie Horton African American Legacy Award. In the 1990 season for Detroit, Fielder became the first player to reach the 50-home run mark since 1977, and the first American League player to accomplish the feat since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit 54 and 61 home runs, respectively, in 1961.
The Tigers will distribute 2,000 complimentary game tickets to local organizations as part of the Negro Leagues Weekend Celebration.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the tradition of celebrating Negro Leagues Weekend with Tigers fans, our current players and within the community,” said Chris McGowan, President and CEO, Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “The tremendous impact of the Negro Leagues is deeply-rooted in the city of Detroit, and it’s a privilege to pay homage to the Detroit Stars and former Negro Leagues players who represented our city. We are honored to fly the Detroit Stars flag in center field at Comerica Park, recognizing the great Stars players and their significant contributions to baseball. And with Tigers great Cecil Fielder also returning to Detroit, it’s going to be a fantastic weekend at the ballpark.”
“Highlighting the many African American trailblazers who have impacted both the game and our community, Negro Leagues Weekend always delivers on a wonderful celebration of baseball’s past, present, and future,” said Linda Nosegbe, Comerica Bank Vice President and Southeast External Affairs Market Manager. “Each year the Detroit Tigers present many memorable moments, and this week will be no different. For 20 years now, Negro Leagues Weekend has been special to Comerica, and we appreciate the opportunity to once again partner on this weekend of great festivities.”
Fans are encouraged to arrive at Comerica Park early to enjoy the many activities that are planned throughout Negro Leagues Weekend. DJ Mo Beatz – Big Sean’s official DJ – will spin on the Pepsi Porch prior to all three games, and a “Walk of Stars,” similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, will be set up to highlight the achievements of former Detroit Stars players. Burt’s Marketplace, a black-owned restaurant located in Eastern Market, will be hosting a barbeque takeover in the Brushfire Grill all weekend.
Negro Leagues Weekend festivities will include:
Friday, June 17 (7:10 p.m. first pitch)
- The sixth annual Negro Leagues Legacy Luncheon will be hosted at Comerica Park on Friday morning, a private event to welcome former Negro Leagues players back to Detroit and to honor Cecil Fielder.
- The Tigers, in partnership with Major League Baseball, will host a “Play Ball” clinic at Historic Hamtramck Stadium on Friday afternoon. Volunteers from the Henry Ford Community College baseball team will be on- hand to introduce 100 local children to the game through a selection of skills, drills and character building activities.
- Prior to Friday’s game, the annual “Passing of the Bat” ceremony will be held on the field, celebrating African American baseball players and their contributions to baseball. The ceremony features a symbolic “torch passing” from a former Negro Leagues player to several generations of former and current African American Tigers players. The bat is then presented to a local youth player, with Detroit Edison Public School Academy standout Gregory Pace serving as this year’s recipient. Pace is committed to play baseball at the University of Michigan, and his family and Detroit Edison teammates will be in attendance.
- The National Anthem will be performed by Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown and Joyce Stearnes Thompson, daughters of Negro Leagues great and National Baseball Hall of Fame member Norman “Turkey” Stearnes. James DuBose, the grandson of Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Saturday, July 18 (4:10 p.m. first pitch)
- The Detroit Stars flag will be raised in a pregame ceremony that also recognizes several former Negro Leagues players, including Bill Hill, Eugene Scruggs, Pedro Sierra, Ron Teasley and Johnny Walker. Minnie Forbes, the former owner of the Detroit Stars, will also be a part of the commemoration. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be performed following the flag raising.
- The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Negro Leagues Replica Jersey, courtesy of Comerica Bank. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m.
- Tigers fans are encouraged to attend a pregame Q&A from 2:40-3:20 p.m., in the Big Cat Court presented by Comerica Bank, featuring Forbes, Hill, Scruggs, Sierra, Teasley and Walker. The panel will be hosted by Negro Leagues historian Larry Lester.
- The Tigers will host HBCU/Greek Night in partnership with Detroit-area alumni associations and Black Greek Letter organizations, including a ticket package with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Detroit HBCU Network.
- Tickets remain available for fans to attend an autograph signing with Cecil Fielder on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. until Noon, in The D Shop at Comerica Park. Fans can register here.
- In partnership with the Detroit HBCU Alumni Organization and Black Greek Letter Organizations, the Tigers will host an “African Americans in Sports” panel and mix and mingle event for approximately 100 local students at Comerica Park on Saturday morning.
Sunday, July 19 (1:10 p.m. first pitch)
- Shortly after gates open at 11:30 a.m., Fielder will participate in a fan Q&A in the Big Cat Court from 12:20- 12:50 p.m. Fielder will then be recognized in a pregame ceremony for earning the Willie Horton African American Legacy Award, created in 2009 to honor African Americans who have strengthened the legacy of baseball in the African American community and have contributed to the rich history of the Detroit Tigers.
- Prior to the game, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach George Lombard will meet on the Comerica Park field with 15 HBCU coaches, who will be in town for the Southfield Baseball Showcase.
- Local youth players will be invited to serve as “Detroit Stars of the Game” and participate in a pregame on- field ceremony.The Tigers will honor the Detroit Stars teams of the Negro Leagues by once again wearing Detroit Stars throwback uniforms for Saturday’s Negro Leagues Tribute Game. Popular Negro Leagues merchandise will be sold on the Comerica Park concourse by Tony Dee’s Negro Leagues Baseball Store.
For more information about the history of African American players in the Detroit Tigers organization, visit tigers.com/africanamericanheritage.