Tigers Fans Flock to Birmingham to Meet Their Favorite Players
Six Detroit Tigers, including Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, visit with more than 100 fans Thursday afternoon at Birmingham's Palladium 12 Theater.
Two buses full of the 2011 Major League Baseball Central Division champions are making their way throughout Metro Detroit and beyond as part of the annual tour, spreading baseball fever even on one of the coldest, snowiest days of year.
"We get the first snowfall of the year, and we're talking baseball," said WOMC-FM, 104.3, disc jockey Jim Johnson, who helped energize the crowd of nearly 150 people who turned out to rally, held on the entire third floor of the theater complex.
The event was also in homage to Uptown Entertainment — the company behind the Palladium 12 and Birmingham 8 — which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Tigers presented Barb Zanetti, manager of Uptown Entertainment, with a Palladium jersey to commemorate the anniversary.
The afternoon event included free hot dogs, soda and popcorn for attendees, as well as a chance to snag a picture with Tigers mascot Paws while browsing a display of Tigers memorabilia. Attendees were then directed to a theater, where Johnson helped lead a Tigers trivia quiz.
Then it was Tiger time: Collin Balester, Andrew Oliver, Matt Hoffman, Tyler Stohr, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander were on hand to discuss the prospects for the upcoming season, answer audience questions ("How did you get so good at baseball?" being a crowd favorite) and participate in a movie trivia contest, during which Royal Oak resident Linda Lapham won Tigers season tickets.
More than 100 people from Birmingham and the surrounding communities were there to see their favorite team in person. For Bloomfield Hills Andover High School juniors Marissa Weber and Lynn Neef, their favorite player is Brennan Boesch, who wasn't present Thursday. (He was nearby at the team's stop in Troy.) However, they're not picky.
"We're not particular when it comes to our favorite Tigers," Weber said.
There were dozens more young fans at the Palladium on Thursday, including Pierce Elementary second-graders Drew Bell and Marlena Edward. With camera in hand, the pair — aided by Drew's mom, Barbara Stalburg Bell — filmed the latest episode of Kid Witness News, a project for their class.
"They're having a great time," Stalburg Bell said. "They hope to talk to some Tigers."
There was a lot of optimism for the upcoming season from Racquel Ankney of Troy and Christen Olveto of Macomb, who work at McCann Erickson's Birmingham office. Ankney said she's anxious to see what the Tigers will do in the offseason, while Olveto had her prediction set for this summer.
"We're going to give the Central Division a nice run for their money," she said.
Cabrera was just as confident as Olveto during the Tigers' question-and-answer session. When asked whether he thought the Tigers would win the Central Division again, Cabrera had only one thing to say: "Yes."