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Detroit should rename streets to honor Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker

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Los Angeles has voted to name a street leading up to Dodger stadium after legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who is retiring after 67 seasons in the broadcast booth following the 2016 season. It seems a fitting tribute to a man who has been associated with the Dodgers’ franchise going all the way back to their days in Brooklyn. Elysian Park Avenue will hence forward be called "Vin Scully Avenue." 

Detroit has taken similar measures in the past. A short section of road between Rosa Parks Boulevard (formerly named 12th street) leading up to the old Tiger stadium grounds has been named Kaline Drive, in honor of "Mr Tiger," Al Kaline. The road ends at Cochrane Street, named after the former player-manager, Mickey Cochrane, who led the Tigers to their first world championship in 1935. The old grounds themselves are called "Harwell Park" (albeit informally) after the Tigers own hall of fame broadcaster, Ernie Harwell.

At the Tigers’ new home in Comerica Park, six life sized bronze statues stand in center field, honoring former hall of fame players Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and Hal Newhouser, as well as Detroit’s own Willie Horton.

What you don’t find in the landscape of Detroit, or at Comerica Park, is any sort of a fitting tribute to the players who brought a championship to the city in 1984. There is no statue for Alan Trammell, or Lou Whitaker. They don’t have their numbers retired, or posted on the brick wall at the park. Despite being snubbed by the Hall of Fame, these players graced the baseball fields for the Tigers for two decades with class, as well as or better than any others who played their positions at the time.

Comerica Park is bordered by streets named Montcalm, Brush, Adams, and Witherell. Leading up to the park is John R, which comes across I-75 and then picks up again on the other side of the park before it ends two blocks later at Woodward. I propose that some of these streets should be renamed in honor of Trammell and Whitaker.

map

(Google Maps)

Adams is a street that runs about eight blocks total, between Brush and Grand River Ave. One would assume that it’s named after one of our two former presidents by that surname. Montcalm is about the same length, running on the opposite side of the stadium between Cass and St Antoine. Michigan has a county by the same name. The county is named for General Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, French military commander of troops in Canada during the French and Indian War. Either of these streets would be more appropriately named for a famous person who worked in the City of Detroit, in the State of Michigan.

Brush street runs between Comerica Park and Ford field, and continues for a substantial distance in both directions, so it is probably not the one we want to rename. John R is named for John R Williams, the first mayor of Detroit, who served five terms. The street goes for miles, running parallel to Woodward, but there would be no harm in renaming the three block section on the other side of the stadium.

Witherell runs about three blocks, two of them adjacent to the ballpark and one curved stretch along Grand Circus Park. The street is apparently named for a family, mainly father and son, whose fame is described in this article. No disrespect to their memory, but they’d probably get more recognition by having the street, or part of the road, changed from Witherell to Whitaker than they’ve gotten since Comerica Park was built on its current site.

Whitaker and Trammell should have been inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame long ago. The Tigers should have retired their numbers long ago. They should have a statue, a number on the brick wall, or at least a sandwich named after them somewhere around the Tigers’ ballpark. Naming a couple of streets around Comerica Park in their honor would seem to be a fitting tribute.