By Alan Madlane
You can’t keep a good stadium down.
Just before Christmas last year, we wrote about Hamtramck Stadium getting a formal review done on its restoration. That was courtesy of a $50,000 African American Civil Rights Grant from the National Park Service.
Now the first corporate sponsor has gotten behind the actual physical restoration process. Comerica Bank recently presented the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium with a $20,000 check at the Negro Leagues Legacy Luncheon held at the bank’s own namesake, Comerica Park.
Hamtramck Stadium, also once known as Roesink Stadium after former Detroit Stars owner John A. Roesink, is an almost 90-year old structure on the southend of Veterans Park.
Presently used at the moment for such recreations as pick-up cricket or soccer games, Hamtramck Stadium is both on the National Register of Historic Places and a Michigan State Historic Site. It’s also sorely in need of some major cosmetic upgrading.
The baseball diamond itself is not in usable condition, nor are the old concrete and wooden stands. The grandstands originally could hold 8,000 spectators.
The stadium is believed to be one of only five known remaining Negro League stadiums. It’s a piece of history that helps put the city on the country’s radar, for fans of the history of baseball and for students of African-American history.
Comerica Bank first began to develop a relationship with the Friends organization in 2014 when it sponsored the historical marker for the stadium.
“We’re honored to support this project,” said Michael T. Ritchie, President of the Michigan branch of Comerica, “and we hope our commitment inspires other organizations to help preserve this historic stadium.”
The stadium was home to the Detroit Stars in the early 1930s, and saw the likes of Satchel Paige and Norman “Turkey” Stearnes grace its sod.
Interested potential donators, both corporate and individual, can find a link on the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium’s webpage (www.hamtramckstadium.org) under the heading “Donate or Contact Us.”