** FILE** An Aug. 2, 2007, file photo shows Tiger Stadium in Detroit. With the awarding of a demolition contract Tuesday, April 22, 2008, by the City of Detroit, the debate over old Tiger Stadium is shifting to whether to knock down all of the historic ballpark or to save a corner of it. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Demolition crews smashed the historic walls of Tiger Stadium on Wednesday, punching through to the interior of the ballpark that stood for decades.
Outfield walls cleared by baseball legends Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle as well as Detroit Tiger sluggers Norm Cash and Cecil Fielder came down as two contractors intensified their efforts to bring down the venerable park.
Backhoes and excavators, sometimes hard to see through dust and spraying water, whizzed around the site, picking up debris and dumping it in oversized bins. During one flurry Wednesday morning, an excavator smashed through the exterior wall beyond left field, throwing support girders to the side.
The scene was tough to take for longtime Tigers fan Chas Matreal and his 23-year-old son, Ryan.
"All beautiful memories," Chas Matreal said. "It is something beautiful that we're destroying, and it's history."
The 49-year-old bricklayer from Milford said he attended 400 to 500 games at Tiger Stadium, many with his own father, starting in 1966.
Farrow Group owner Michael Farrow said crews planned to spend all day demolishing some of the stadium's massive concrete walls.
The Detroit contractor and MCM Management Corp. of suburban Bloomfield Hills started demolition of the ballpark last week.
They expect to make an estimated $1 million by selling scrap from the park.
City officials say an Aug. 1 deadline still stands for a nonprofit group to raise enough funds to preserve the field and part of the stadium between first and third base.