Tigers Open 2008 Season At Comerica Park

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Danny Novack Jr.'s orange cape flapped in the wind as he, with his painted face, Detroit Tigers gear and feline whiskers, rushed toward Comerica Park to enjoy the sights and sounds of opening day.
His sons trailed behind him painted in orange from head to toe, complete with tiger stripes.
It didn't take long for fellow revelers to stop and check out the 27-year-old truck driver from Wayne County's Redford Township and his 7- and 3-year-old sons.
"I came straight from work to here," said Novack, who was among hundreds of Tigers fans who packed area eateries and bars and the surrounding parking lots Monday morning to celebrate the kickoff of what they hope will be a season that runs well into October.
Brian Frank, a 37-year-old who works at a retail wine shop, and a friend drove Sunday from Petoskey. He watched The Weather Channel anxiously all week as forecasters projected cold weather and rain.
But the weather wouldn't stop him.
"This is my first home opener," said Frank, who was wearing a Tigers hat and some gold beads around his neck, as he stood near a big-screen television at a local bar. "In the last three years, I've become a real big Tigers fan. I caught the bug big time."
Derek Jetzke, 24, was tailgating at 8 a.m. -- a full five hours ahead of the first pitch against the Kansas City Royals. Most of his friends anticipated going in to see the game live. The Sterling Heights bartender had other ideas, though.
"I came to drink," Jetzke said, holding a 64-ounce mug filled with beer.
His friend, Eddie Elias, limped around in a boot cast, the result of torn ligaments in his foot.
"I'm not supposed to be out right now. My foot should be up," Elias said.
Opening day first-timers Sara Dziordziewicz and Mary Blizinski, both 21, took some time off from college to get in on the festivities. They were out early to meet friends for tailgating. Bundled up in Tigers gear, they rushed across busy Woodward Avenue to get to the ballpark.
"We tried to dress warm," Dziordziewicz said.
Fans weren't the only ones excited about getting the season started.
"This is pretty cool for me. It's a great honor, it's humbling. It's more special here, no doubt," said Royals manager Trey Hillman.
Hillman, who spent the past five years managing Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters, said it's nice to communicate with players without going through an interpreter.
"The opening day excitement is much the same, you felt the excitement," he said. "The difference is I couldn't understand everything everyone was saying."
The Tigers were coming off their 12th consecutive losing season just two years ago, then played in the 2006 World Series and challenged for a spot in the playoffs deep into September last season.
This year's lineup looks even more impressive from top to bottom, highlighted by the middle of the order: Gary Sheffield, AL batting champion Magglio Ordonez and top offseason pickup Miguel Cabrera.


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