The Final Season: Fathers, Sons, and One Last Season in a Classic American Ballpark (Honoring a Detroit Legend)
Maybe your dad took you to ball games at Fenway, Wrigley, or Ebbets. Maybe the two of you watched broadcasts from Yankee Stadium or Candlestick Park, or listened as Red Barber or Vin Scully called the plays on radio. Or maybe he coached your team or just played catch with you in the yard. Chances are good that if you're a baseball fan, your dad had something to do with it--and your thoughts of the sport evoke thoughts of him. If so, you will treasure The Final Season, a poignant true story about baseball and heroes, family and forgiveness, doubts and dreams, and a place that brings them all together.
Growing up in the 60s and 70s, Tom Stanton lived for his Detroit Tigers. When Tiger Stadium began its 88th and final season, he vowed to attend all 81 home games in order to explore his attachment to the place where four generations of his family have shared baseball. Join him as he encounters idols, conjures decades past, and discovers the mysteries of a park where Cobb and Ruth played. Come along and sit beside Al Kaline on the dugout bench, eat popcorn with Elmore Leonard, hear Alice Cooper's confessions, soak up the warmth of Ernie Harwell, see McGwire and Ripken up close, and meet Chicken Legs Rau, Bleacher Pete, Al the Usher, and a parade of fans who are anything but ordinary. By the autumn of his odyssey, Stanton comes to realize that his anguish isn't just about the loss of a beloved ballpark but about his dad's mortality, for at the heart of this story is the love between fathers and sons--a theme that resonates with baseball fans of all ages.
out of service, offering that Clem’s eyes were poor and that Bucky had high blood pressure and that Teddy suffered from bad nerves and that Joey was too soft and that Herb—who would soon be volunteering—was too young. Still, four of them ended up overseas and all of them came home. My dad was the luckiest, stationed in St. Joseph, Missouri, where in a club one night he spotted Betty Muse, a shapely brunette with bouncy hair and violet eyes and a sassy-enough smile that he felt he could ask her,
early. The ball club is wary of my motives, with reason. I am angry that the team is abandoning the park and I don’t feel fond of the people who made the decision. Still, I am tickled to be here today, even comforted in some way, and privileged, of course. Emerging from the cement tunnel you notice the grass first, shamrock green. Perhaps it’s the vastness of it, this huge flag of a field spread before you and hugged by a sea of blue seats, or the way the diagonal cut creates a pattern of
family. Years from now I want them to point at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull and recall for their grandsons how their ancestors—all the way back to my grandfather, Polish immigrant Theodore Stankiewicz—shared the national pastime here through nine decades. I want them to know about Hal Newhouser and Charlie Gehringer and Al Kaline. I want them to remember. In our family, baseball has always been a communion of dads, boys, and brothers. Mom never went to the park, not even before the brain
run. Game 4: Friday, April 16 When the world champions swagger onto the field, kids in Yankee jerseys swarm the dugout for autographs. Middle-aged men call out to manager Joe Torre. Boys and young women crane their necks toward Derek Jeter, the shortstop from Kalamazoo. The Yankees are America’s premier baseball team, winners of a record 114 games last season. They stand taller than their peers. They step with confidence. They throw harder, hit better, smile nicer. They almost glow. I love
shovel snow from the field, the kind of day that Ernie Harwell says wasn’t made for baseball. Brian Moehler pitched the home opener, putting his father’s initials into the new dirt, and the Tigers won 5–2. And I can say I was there with 39,000 others, shivering in the cold wind. It’s August now and I’ve seen a half dozen games this season including this one, a Tuesday-night affair against the Griffeyless Seattle Mariners. Much has changed since the last game at Tiger Stadium. Days before the