This study of the Detroit Tigers over a half-century demonstrates how baseball has reflected the fortunes of America's postwar urban society. Patrick Harrigan shows that the declining fortunes of this franchise have been inextricably linked with those of its city and surrounding community. Attention is paid to major on-field exploits, but the focus is on the development of the ball club as a corporate enterprise and its symbiotic relationship with metropolitan Detroit.
The Detroit Tigers, established as a club in the nineteenth century, have been an integral part of the community in and around Detroit. At one time, Detroit was even regarded as the best town for baseball in the country. The club has interacted with the city's various communities, but it has also neglected or clashed with some - most notably with the African-American community.
The relationship of club and community in Detroit has distinctive features, but it also has much in common with baseball in other metropolises. Harrigan examines the development of baseball's modern institutional and economic structure; the role of major-league teams in large urban centres; the influence of radio and television on the popularity of the game; racial integration; unionization and free agency; and stadium renovation or rebuilding, and the financing of such projects. A declining city population base, the riot of 1967, and alienation between the city, its suburbs, and the state have highlighted the Tigers' own troubled history. The controversy surrounding the building of a new stadium - viewed as the key to revitalizing the downtown core, as well as the team's fortunes - demonstrates that baseball is still a major community concern in Detroit.
The Detroit Tigers is the most complete view of the finances of any sports organization yet published. It also illustrates baseball's human dimension. Harrigan has conducted more than a hundred interviews with former players, their wives, team executives, media personalities, sports writers, and politicians and uncovered many previously unused sources to give us a vivid portrayal of a sport and its far-reaching influence.
'One lesson to be drawn from Patrick Harrigan's exhaustive account of the Tigers from 1945 to the present is that ownership and management ultimately determine a franchises' success.'
'With the wounds of the 1994 players' strike virtually healed and the team's ongoing battle to build a new stadium settled, the Tigers seem poised to enter a new era and Harrigan's book perfectly encapsulates the one just completed.'
'An exhaustive, rewarding social history of the Detroit Tigers over the last half-century.'
'Scholars will celebrate The Detroit Tigers as a model biography of a sports team, but Tiger fans will cherish it as the fullest and finest account of their team ever written. The Tigers may well be the worst team in baseball this year, but they now have the best team history.'
'Harrigan's 415 page, 50-year history is more than just the usual chronicle of locker-room antics and on-field heroics.'
'Harrigan's book is a splendid peice of research with much of interest to sports historians, business historians, and baseball fans. He has set a standard for baseball history that should inspire others to tackle teams that may be more closed-mouthed.'