By J.Y. Mortimer
July 19th, 2023
- First 15,000 fans in attendance on Saturday, July 22 for 27th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game will receive Norman “Turkey” Stearnes Detroit Stars jersey, presented by Comerica Bank
- Curtis Granderson to return to Detroit; will participate in fan Q&A on Comerica Park concourse and be presented Willie Horton African American Legacy Award on Sunday, July 23
- Former Negro League players and influences to participate in conversation and Q&A at Comerica Big Cat Court on Saturday
- Friday “Party in the Park” Presented by Casamigos will be R&B Night, including live music and entertainment on Comerica Landing; Tigers fans encouraged to stay in seats for Friday Night Fireworks at conclusion of game
- Fans can visit “Walk of Stars” on concourse; Negro Leagues merchandise will be sold by Tony Dee’s Negro Leagues Baseball Store
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers are proud to host the 21st annual Negro Leagues Weekend, presented by Comerica Bank, from July 21-23, when the San Diego Padres 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 27th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game on Saturday, July 22. Prior to the game, the Tigers will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Norman “Turkey” Stearnes’ debut with the Detroit Stars in 1923. Stearnes was a five-tool player and five time All-Star selection to the Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Classic. He passed away on Sept. 4, 1979, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Three-time MLB All-Star and 2002 Tigers draftee Curtis Granderson will be returning to Detroit for Negro Leagues Weekend, and interact with Tigers fans on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23, when he will also be presented the Willie Horton African American Legacy Award. Granderson debuted for the Tigers in September 2004, and was the starting center fielder for the 2006 team that won the American League pennant and played in the World Series. He led the AL with 23 triples in the 2007 season, and represented the Tigers in the 2009 MLB All-Star Game.
The Tigers will distribute more than 3,000 complimentary game tickets to local organizations as part of the Negro Leagues Weekend celebration. A portion of the 50/50 Raffle proceeds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will benefit The HBCU Foundation, and Comerica Bank will match those proceeds.
“We’re looking forward to celebrating the incredible impact of former Negro Leagues players with Tigers fans, our players and the community at Comerica Park,” said Ryan Gustafson, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “We’ll be honoring the late Norman “Turkey” Stearnes for the 100th anniversary of his debut for the Detroit Stars, and are excited to welcome Curtis Granderson back to Detroit, where he will be presented the Willie Horton African American Legacy Award. Negro Leagues Weekend is a fan-favorite event each and every year, and we’re thankful to Comerica Bank for their support.”
“Few organizations honor the lasting legacy of the Negro Leagues and contributions of African Americans in baseball as well as the Detroit Tigers,” said Steve Davis, Michigan Market President of Comerica Bank. “The celebratory weekend is made possible by the community who, with profound pride, uplifts the importance of the past, present, and future. We join the city of Detroit, the Tigers and the fans with excitement to listen to the great stories and commemorate the legends who positively impacted the game and our communities.”
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 new Comerica Landing on Saturday and Sunday, while Dr. Darrius will perform for Friday’s series opener. The “Walk of Stars,” similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, will highlight the historic achievements of former Detroit Stars players. Several Negro Leagues and Detroit Stars-themed photo opportunities will be available throughout the concourse.
Negro Leagues Weekend festivities will include:
Friday, July 21 (6:40 p.m. first pitch)
- The seventh annual Negro Leagues Legacy Luncheon, presented by Comerica Bank, will be hosted at the ballpark on Friday morning, a private event to welcome former Negro Leagues players back to Detroit and to honor Curtis Granderson.
- Prior to Friday’s series opener, 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 University Liggett student-athletes Jarren Purify and Oliver Service serving as this year’s recipients. Purify is committed to play college baseball at Clemson, while Service will play at Texas.
- The Tigers ticket sales & service team will host “HBCU & Divine 9 Night,” including a special ticket package with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the United Negro College Fund and the Detroit HBCU network.
- Friday’s “Party in the Park” presented by Casamigos will be “R&B Night,” including live music and entertainment and specialty food and beverage items on the Comerica Landing.
- Tigers fans are encouraged to remain in their seats after the conclusion of the game for the display of Friday Night Fireworks.
Saturday, July 22 (6:10 p.m. first pitch)
- The first 15,000 fans in attendance will receive a Norman “Turkey” Stearnes Detroit Stars jersey, presented by Comerica Bank. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m.
- Tigers fans are encouraged to attend a pregame Q&A with former Negro League players and influences from 4:45-5:15 p.m., in the Comerica Big Cat Court. The panel will be moderated by 910 AM radio host Mark Lee, who will be joined Sam Allen, former Detroit Stars owner Minnie Forbes, Foster Graham, Bill Hill, Enrique Maroto, Pedro Sierra, Ron Teasley, Johnny Walker and Charles Willis.
- The pregame on-field ceremony honoring former Negro Leaguers will also include a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the National Anthem by Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown and Joyce Stearnes Thompson, daughters of Norman “Turkey” Stearnes.
Sunday, July 23 (12:05 p.m. first pitch)
- Shortly after gates open, Granderson will participate in a fan Q&A in the Comerica Big Cat Court from 10:45-11:15 a.m. Granderson 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 Tigers.
COURTESY TIGERS MEDIA RELATIONS & MLBpressbox.com