Monday, July 11, 2005

All-Star Ground Rounds

Tomorrow, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played in Detroit at Comerica Park, Detroit’s retro replacement for Tiger Stadium. In Sunday’s New York Times, Tyler Kepner wrote a piece about the Tiger Stadium, which stands gated and locked at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull where it has stood every summer since 1912.

In the summer of 1995, my friends Eric and Pete and I set out on a trip that had no good purpose other than to see baseball games at Tiger Stadium and take our then 20 year old friend Pete drinking in Canada. Arriving in Detroit late in the afternoon, we pulled into a parking lot and up to a bar stool. After ordering beers, and being from Pittsburgh (a very sophisticated dining town if you like french fries on sandwich), we asked for menus. This caused the bartender to point to a chalk board behind the bar that read “Ground Rounds…..Ground Rounds w/ Cheese….Ground Rounds with Cheese and Onions.” So we had ground rounds.

That night we sat in the upper deck down the 3rd base line, seemingly on top of the action on a cool Michigan summer night. I vaguely remember that they played the Kansas City Royals. I can’t remember who won, but I can remember that the beer was cold, the grass was green, the restrooms and concourses small, cramped and dirty. I think we saw a rat that day. It was perfect.

The next day, perhaps a little groggy, we went back for more. Wanting to fully experience the area around Tiger Stadium, we went to another bar called Hoot Robinson’s (which according to the Times article is now closed and was once frequented by Babe Ruth!). A long bar went down the left side…a set of vinyl booths down the right. We took a booth and ordered beers. We were all 3 excited when the waitress, without asking, brought us menus. They were tall menus with thick, substantial covers. Surely these would contain some culinary delight or at least a magical hangover cure. Mouths watered in anticipation as we opened the menus: “Ground Rounds, Ground Rounds w/Cheese, Ground Rounds w/Cheese and Onion.”

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