I'm an Akron, Ohio girl. Born and bread. Raised in the shadows of rubber factories, the Goodyear blimp, and that other city to the north of us that we have a love/hate relationship from. You know, Cleveland. We live and die with their professional sports teams. So it stands to reason that I'm a huge Cleveland Indians fan. I grew up wearing the red, white and blue of team spirit. Hoping that each year would be "the year" for us. Witnessing my very first professional game at the old Muni Stadium when hardly anyone was even there. Remember when The Jake was really The Jake. Screaming at the top of my lungs in the late 90's. Dying a little inside each of those seasons. We still love our boys though. How could we not?
Then I married a Detroit Tiger's fan. Now I love baseball in all of its forms. Little league games on warm summer nights. Kids playing catch on the lawn. Sappy baseball films on winter nights. Baseball speaks to the poet lurking in my soul. I would watch any game, any time, anywhere. While I don't get to see my boys as much as I would like to, we take the 40 minute drive north five times each season to see the Tigers in Detroit. This was one such weekend away with friends. I am here to tell you, that city is anything but dying. Gritty yes, dying no.
Spending any weekend in Detroit, I can't recommend the Book Cadillac Hotel enough. This was our third stay with them, and each time it has been divine. After over 30 years of decline, in 2008 the Book Cadillac was re-opened by the Westin group and is an absolutely stunning historical landmark of a hotel. The rooms are elegant, beautiful, comfortable, and I would seriously move in if they'd let me. Actually, they might since they have condominiums on the uppermost floors! I mean, those showers alone are enough to get me through the door. Heavenly isn't enough to explain just how lovely they are.
We were in town with friends for a baseball experience. It started with a play, Ernie. It chronicled the life of Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers who recently passed away. To be honest, I was along for the ride on this one at the outset. I knew how much my husband was looking forward to it, being written by one of his idols, Mitch Albom and about one of this other idols, Ernie Harwell. I don't have such an attachment to either. However, I sobbed my way through one Kleenex and well into another by the end of the 9 inning, two actor, play. It is told in a tunnel under Comerica park on the night Ernie was there to deliver his farewell speech to the crowd. He tells a boy all about his life, love for his wife, love of the game, and more. I wept each time Lulu came up, when he talked about seeing the expanse of green the first time he went into a major league park, even when he talked about his cancer. If you are a lover of baseball, get yourself to Detroit, get tickets and go. It is breathtaking. And take tissues. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
After the game, we wandered a few blocks over to Cliff Bell's Night Club, a live jazz, art deco, totally awesome jewel in the city. Sitting there in my cocktail dress, sipping on my drink, I felt transported back to the time of Mad Men and Don Draper. Only I am lucky enough to have a lovely husband to go home with! The music was hopping, the drinks were delicious, and the place was packed. We have been there twice, and if you go, I do recommend two things-make sure you have cash for the cover charge (they have to pay the band!), and have a bit of an empty stomach because their food is very yummy!
The following day we went to Comerica Park to take in an actual baseball game. While my heart does lie in the expanse of green we sentimentally call "The Jake" still, I do really like Comerica Park. It is a great place to take kids for a game, there isn't a bad seat in the place, and the food is delicious. (why do I always seem to come back to food...I'm noticing that as a pattern...hmmmmm...) While the Tigers lost, it was a great afternoon to take in a game. I got to see a few dads and sons there together for the first time, a trio of sons taking their dad for probably the thousandth time (who was at least 75), one manager in a heated discussion with an ump, several hits sink into the stands to get tossed back onto the field, and ate an entire bag of peanuts. It was blissful.
Today I'm home, sunburned on my cheeks, and a bit sleepy. Thank you, Detroit Rock City, for being your lovely gritty Midwestern self. We will be back soon. And for those of you who have never thought of going, please do so. She's a great place to visit!