Detroit, MI- The Detroit Tigers host the franchise's 12th annual Negro Leagues Weekend May 23-25 as the Tigers host the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. On Saturday, May 24 the Tigers will don the throwback uniforms of the Detroit Stars and the Rangers will suit up as the Ft. Worth Texas Black Panthers during the 20th Annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, presented by Comerica Bank. The Annual Negro Leagues Weekend marks the first - and longest running - three-day celebration of its kind in Major League Baseball.
The Detroit Tigers will pay tribute to several former Negro Leagues players as current and former Tigers players and special guests, all come together for a weekend full of events celebrating the contributions of Negro Leagues players to the game of baseball.
Tickets are available at the Comerica Park Box Office, online at tigers.com and by phone at (866) 66-TIGER (84437). For complete ticket information including season, group and suites visit tigers.com/tickets or call 313-471-BALL(2255).
Friday, May 23 vs. Texas Rangers at 7:08 p.m. Gates Open at 5:00 p.m. Probables: RHP Anibal Sanchez vs. RHP Scott Baker
· Legacy Luncheon Presented by the Detroit Tigers Foundation: The Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, will host approximately 125 metro-Detroit area high school baseball players at a special luncheon in the Tiger Club at Comerica Park beginning at 12:00 p.m. The event will feature a panel with current Tigers players Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis. Tigers Assistant Hitting Coach Darnell Coles, and Third Base Coach Dave Clark, along with FOX Sports Detroit broadcasters Rod Allen and Craig Monroe and former Negro Leagues player Ron Teasley will also participate in a special panel for the students. The entire luncheon will be hosted by Dr. Darrius from Hot 107.5 FM (WGPR, Radio One Detroit). This event is not open to the public.
· Eighth Annual Detroit Stars Singing Competition: The Tigers have partnered with Radio One for the eighth annual Detroit Stars Singing Competition. The competition will take place at the Big Cat Court starting at 5:30 p.m. 10 finalists will be judged by celebrity judges including Duke Fakir of the legendary Motown group the Four Tops, Golden Tate, wide receiver for the Detroit Lions and FOX 2 TV personality Lee Thomas. The winner receives $1,500, will be recognized on the field prior to Friday's game against the Rangers and will have the opportunity to sing the anthem on Monday, September 8.
· "Passing of the Bat Ceremony": The Tigers are continuing their celebration of African Americans and their numerous contributions to the game of baseball with the "Passing of the Bat" ceremony, which embodies the past, present and future contributions of African American ballplayers to the game of baseball. The ceremony features former Detroit Stars player Walt Owens, former Tigers and current FOX Sports Detroit broadcasters Rod Allen and Craig Monroe, current Tigers Rajai Davis Torii Hunter, and Austin Jackson, as well as Dazon Cole of West Bloomfield High School. Cole is one of the top high school baseball prospects in the state of Michigan.
· The ceremonial first pitches will be thrown out by Detroit Lions wide receiver and celebrity judge of the Detroit Stars Singing Competition Golden Tate and great-granddaughter of Hall of Fame Negro Leagues player Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, Ketera Stearnes. Stearnes is memorialized with a plaque in his honor near the Gate C entrance at Comerica Park.
· The national anthem will be performed by Joyce Stearnes Thompson and Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown, daughters of Norman "Turkey" Stearnes.
· Negro Leagues merchandise will be sold by Tony Dee's Negro Leagues Baseball Apparel throughout the weekend in the Big Cat Court on the Comerica Park concourse.
20th Annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, Saturday, May 24 vs. Texas Rangers at 4:08 p.m. Gates Open at 2:00 p.m. RHP Rick Porcello vs. RHP Nick Martinez
· The first 10,000 fans to enter the park will receive a Detroit Stars baseball cap, courtesy of Comerica Bank.
· Beginning at 2:30 p.m. former Negro Leagues Players including Charlie Davis, Melvin Buck Duncan, Pedro Sierra, Walt Owens, Johnny Walker, Bill Hill, Ron "Schoolboy" Teasley, Mrs. Minnie Forbes, Eugene Scruggs and Henry Saverson, along with Negro Leagues historians Louis Manley and Dick Clark will participate in a special round table discussion and Q&A with Tigers fans in the Big Cat Court on the Comerica Park concourse.
· On-Field Ceremony: Prior to the 20th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, where the Tigers and Rangers will don the uniforms of the Detroit Stars and Ft. Worth Texas Black Panthers, 10 former Negro Leagues players will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony, hosted by famed radio announcer John Mason of Radio One's 105.9. In addition, as part of its commitment to the metro Detroit community, Comerica Bank will donate $5,000 to Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium to purchase a historic marker identifying the Negro Leagues diamond as a National Historic Landmark. Former home of the Negro Leagues Detroit Stars, Hamtramck Stadium has played host to National Baseball Hall of Famers such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell and Norman "Turkey" Stearnes.
· The Tigers will honor former Negro Leagues players Gene Johnson and Frank Crosson with a moment of silence.
· The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by a former Negro Leagues player, Ron Teasley.
· The national anthem will be performed by the Mosaic Singers from the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.
Sunday, May 25 vs. Texas Rangers at 1:08 p.m. Gates Open at 11:00 a.m. Probables: RHP Justin Verlander vs. RHP Colby Lewis
· African American Legacy Award Presentation: Prior to the game, the Tigers will posthumously honor former Tigers outfielder Bill Bruton for his contributions to the legacy of African Americans in baseball in the city of Detroit and across the country. Bruton's family will be on-hand to receive the Detroit Tigers African American Legacy Award on his behalf. The Detroit Tigers African American Legacy Award is presented by the Detroit Tigers in partnership with the Metro Detroit Area McDonald's. The award has also been presented to Gates Brown (2009), Jake Wood (2010), Earl Wilson (2012) and Larry Herndon (2013). Following the presentation to the Bruton family, a plaque chronicling the history of the Tigers African American Legacy Award recipients will be unveiled and later hung in the Ernie Harwell Media Center at Comerica Park. The ceremony will also include the presentation of a Testimonial Resolution to Bill Bruton by Detroit City Council Member George Cushingberry, Jr.
· The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by Brent Elledge, grandson of Bill Bruton.
· The national anthem and God Bless America will be performed by Vision Male Ensemble from the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts.
· Upon exit from the ballpark, all fans will receive a commemorative Bill Bruton baseball card, courtesy of The Detroit News.