DETROIT -- Most Tigers players likely never had a chance to meet James Van Horn or Michael Alston. Though the two became well-known to fans at Comerica Park, hanging around before or after games, players and coaches usually arrive at the ballpark earlier and leave later.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, however, said he met Alston, a wheelchair-bound man known to some fans as "Dreadlock Mike," leaving the park after a game. He was stunned to read news reports that the two were killed early Saturday morning in a hit-and-run incident crossing Gratiot Avenue near Detroit's Eastern Market.
"I loved that guy," Leyland said. "He was a good guy."
Detroit Police have not confirmed the identities of the two victims, but multiple reports have stated those were the two.
Max Scherzer hadn't met either of them, but through friends and relatives knew of Van Horn, best known for chanting "Eat 'Em Up Tigers" as fans made their way to the ballpark before games and again at the games' end.
"He died in such a tragic way," Scherzer said. "He was kind of a part of the Detroit baseball culture, as well."
Fans have paid their respects through a makeshift memorial along Montcalm Street between Witherell and Woodward Avenue, placing flowers alongside an "Eat 'Em Up" t-shirt. A few fans picked up the chant at times before and during Saturday night's win against the Phillies.
Detroit Police are inviting anyone with information about the accident to call Crime Stoppers at 800-SPEAK-UP.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.