I’m a middle child – four years separate me on both sides from my nearest siblings. Plus, for nearly all my adult life, I’ve lived far away from the rest of my family, and to be honest, I don’t have a lot in common with the people who grew up in the same house I did.
So, when my older brother suggested that the four boys and our dad get together in Detroit for a few days of “guy time,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. But – the one thing we all DO have in common is being New York Yankee fans. And since the Yankees were playing a series against the Tigers, I knew it’d all be great.
What do four adult men – all dads themselves – do in Detroit with their own dad? Well, you eat, you talk, you tell stories, and you have a lot of fun.
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First Stop: Ford’s Garage
We were coming in from different parts of the country but managed to time our arrival in Detroit within an hour of each other. As soon as luggage was collected, it was time for some food. And what better place to start of a man-friendly family reunion than with some meat at Ford’s Garage?
Next Stop: Comerica Park – Yankees @ Tigers part One
After a few hours of post-meat recovery time, the reason for the season had arrived. We had tickets for the night game at Comerica Park, the spectacular ballpark that’s home to the Detroit Tigers. While we weren’t there to see the Tigers, as lifelong Yankee fans Detroit had long ago earned our respect as formidable American League East opponents, so we tread with a degree of reverence.
We had terrific seats in the shallow infield along the third-base line. Despite a little jet-lag, we managed to put away peanuts and hot dogs like they were going out of style. For Yankees fans, the game couldn’t have gone better: Yankees win 10-2.
We’d parked for free at the Renaissance Center (Ren Cen) since my older brother works there and took the People Mover back over for the short drive to my brother’s place for a good night’s rest.
Next Up: Downtown Coney Dogs
I’d been to Detroit a couple of times and had heard of the famous Coney Dogs, but hadn’t yet made my way to the center of the Coney Dog universe in downtown Detroit. I was determined to change that. So, I dragged my dad and brothers to Lafayette Boulevard before the afternoon ballgame to get a Coney Dog.
Now, there’s a history of the Coney Dog in Detroit, one that apparently involves treachery, intrigue, betrayal, and a decades-long food war. I don’t have time for those details here, but suffice it to say, there are two prominent Coney Dog places basically next door to each other in downtown Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. But depending on where you park and which way you’re walking, chances are employees of one or the other is going to quickly lure you in and usher you to a table before you ever consider going to the “other place.”
I’m not taking sides here – after all, I’m just a visitor to this fine city – but we ended up at Lafayette Coney Island. And I can say that nobody left dissatisfied.
Bench-Clearing Brawls: Yankees @ Tigers part Two
Spending a weekday afternoon at the ballpark is just this side of heaven. Blue skies, high clouds, dad and brothers, and the Yankees? It doesn’t get any better than that.
Welllllllll, bliss at the ballpark doesn’t always translate to calm on the field. Highlights of this one ended up making national news due to multiple batters hit by pitches, fisticuffs, and multiple ejections of players and both managers. While the game was tight until the late innings, emotion finally got the best of the Yankees.
At the end of the day, three bench-clearing brawls, eight ejections, and Yankees lose 10-6. Never saw anything like that before, and don’t expect to ever see anything like it again.
Ford Field, The Henry Ford and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour
While in the area, we spent a day golfing, and caught a pre-season Detroit Lions game at Ford Field (cheering against the New England Patriots).
But since we were already overdosing on Ford, we decided to go all the way by visiting The Henry Ford museum complex and take a tour of the famous Ford Rouge Factory.
And we’re so glad we did.
The Ford Rouge Factory is nearly 100-years old and is named for its site on the Rouge River in Dearborn, Michigan. The plant has a long and storied history, and today manufactures Ford’s signature F-150 pickup trucks. The Rouge is a short bus ride away from The Henry Ford complex. Visitors are treated to a birds-eye view of the F-150 assembly line, strolling around the entire plant floor in a circle to watch the magic of today’s automated assembly line.
While photos aren’t permitted on the factory floor, guests are encouraged to take photos of other parts of the tour, including the eco-friendly rooftops of the sprawling factory.
At the end of four days together, we only regretted one thing: that it took us a couple of decades to get together in the first place. We also learned that despite our differences, we’re family and we have more in common than we don’t.