EDMONTON - Now that the Detroit Tigers are in the World Series, Motor City’s rejuvenated assembly lines are being called on mass produce more than just cars — but even they can’t keep up with the demand for bandwagons.
A town that’s seen more than its share of hard times finally has something to cheer about. The auto industry is getting back on its feet and the Tigers are four wins away from a world championship.
“It’s exciting to watch and it’s exciting for the city of Detroit,” said Edmonton Oilers defenceman, Michigan native and life-long Tigers fan Jeff Petry, whose father Dan was in the starting rotation the last time Detroit won it all.
“It’s big for the city that’s had some tough times. I was just talking to my brother, he’s been down for the majority of the games and says it’s been amazing. Everybody is kind of coming together.”
Petry wasn’t even born yet when Sparky Anderson’s Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in five games to win the 1984 World Series, but the old English ‘D’ has always been close to his heart.
Charlie Sheen isn’t the only one with Tiger blood in his veins.
“I’ve lived my whole life there and I go back every summer,” said the 24-year-old, who attended nearby Michigan State University. “It’s something I’m always around.”
Since he was a toddler. Petry’s earliest memories are of tearing around Tiger Stadium and exploring the clubhouse.
“He retired when I was young, but I remember being down there and being able to run around the field after a game, or before a game. Later on, even after he retired, he knew a lot of the guys who were still around, so we were fortunate enough to get down to quite a few games and go inside the clubhouse, get to meet some of the guys. It’s a great experience.”
The Petry family still lives in the Detroit area and Dan is still closely tied to the organization — “he does some suite appearances, did a little bit of the radio and also does some stuff for TV” — so rooting for Detroit is a family tradition.
“Dad is excited,” said Jeff. “Right now he’s doing some pre- and post-game shows for Fox 2 News back home, so he’s watching and working. My Mom and brother have gone to the majority of games together and I was actually going to fly home for the World Series, but had prior commitments here.”
Had he known that a couples getaway he booked a month ago with Oilers teammate Ryan Jones and his wife — actually a hunting trip — was going to conflict with a Tigers World Series he might have thought twice, but …
“A friend of a friend has a bird hunting camp, so we’re going to spend the weekend down there,” he said. “But the series is 2-3-2, so we’re also throwing out the idea of going down to San Francisco. We don’t have any connections for tickets there, but if the series does go long we’re looking at catching a game down there.”
Hey, with an NHL lockout into its fifth week, he’s got nothing but free time on his hands.
“I’ve watched almost every game of the playoffs,” he said. “It’s become something that I kind of plan my day around.”
But as great as it is having Detroit in the Series for the first time since 2006, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, it doesn’t make up for not being able to play himself.
“I would trade it all in, 100%, to be playing right now,” he said. “If it were us playing or Tigers in the playoffs, I would take us playing in a heartbeat.”
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