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Local Sports News

Saturday, 5 June, 2010 11:26 AM

Polish American Night at Comerica Park is a big hit

Photo courtesy of My Polish Times - "Czas Polski"

Polish American Night at Comerica Park on May 28, 2010.

by Raymond Rolak
gourmetsports@yahoo.com

 

DETROIT -- The color made the extravaganza. The music, the authentic costumes and the folk dancing by the respective dance troupes helped make Polish-American Night at Comerica Park a visual spectacle.

Even though the Tigers lost to the Oakland A’s, 5-4, the post game fireworks show presented by Pepsi got most in attendance smiling before they left. The accompanied Polka music during the fireworks was a great surprise.

It was the 40th Annual Polish-American Night with the Tigers and before the game General Manager, Dave Dombrowski was smiling, “We will have a full house and it will be a great pre-game show.” The Tigers and the Polish-American Night committee hit a home run with the presentation.” That was an understatement. It was a tremendous show.

Even “PAWS”, the Tiger’s mascot was dressed in Polish folk costume and the Press Box and staff commissary was serving Polish stuffed cabbage and kielbasa-n-kraut.

Early arrivals to Comerica were treated to the lively tunes of Big Daddy Lackowski & the La-De-Das, The Natural Tones and The Kielbasa Kings. WDIV-TV weatherman, Chuck Gaidica highlighted Big Daddy Lackowski on the Channel-4 evening news. Also, the first 10,000 people got vintage-style wool ‘Olde English D’ Tigers caps with the 1935 World Series highlighted. Also, The Tigers and the Polish-American Night Committee presented tee-shirts to those that bought a pre-planned ticket package.

Former Tiger great Willie Horton reminisced how honored he felt when presenting Tom Paciorek into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. “I remember how great the mushroom soup was that evening. I love Polish food. Tom and I were teammates in Seattle. He always helped keep the clubhouse loose. He is a great baseball broadcaster, always prepared.”

Tiger radio broadcaster Jim Price, who hosted Wally Ozog, currently of Chicago and President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, on his pre-game show, highlighted past Polish-American nights at Tiger Stadium. Throughout the Oakland-Detroit game broadcast, Price brought to light, anecdotes about former Major League Polish-American baseball players and told humorous stories about Paciorek, Frank Tanana, Ron Peranowski and Dick Tracewski. Price said, “We always looked forward to Polish-American Night as we had Polish food in the clubhouse after the game and we always teased “Trixie” (Tracewski), for getting another plaque from the host committee. People forget he was on three World Series winners as a player and another as a coach. That’s four rings. Those are great memories.” Price mentioned that former Tiger Jim Northrup and his wife have adopted an orphanage in Poland.

Even Ray Fosse, former catcher for the Oakland A’s and now their flagship station broadcaster sent glowing reports of the evening to California during his broadcast of the game. Mario Impemba of Fox Sports Detroit also painted the picture of Polish –American Night with highlights on the Tigers TV-cast. Fox Sports Detroit had great camera work with their High Definition video of the pre-game show. It caught all the color of the Polish-American Night presentation and got great television distribution.

Vice President of the Polish National Union, Paul Odrobina said, “I hope we can have this many people for Polish Night in Chicago. The White Sox will host Polish Night at U.S. Cellular Field on July 6.

Most of the electronic media outlets mentioned the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony June 24, in Troy, Michigan which will honor former Phillies Manager Danny Ozark. Former Philadelphia slugger Greg Luzinski will accept for the deceased Ozark. The popular and veteran sports broadcaster, Paciorek is scheduled to emcee. NPASHF board members manned an informational table near the right field foul corner.

Right before the umpires declared, “Play Ball”, Barb Toboy, introduced Robert Szczublewski, who was dressed in traditional Polish costume. He had stirring renditions of the Polish National Anthem and the “Star Spangled Banner”. It transitioned to the honoring of a decorated U.S. Army veteran, Specialist Joe James, who was on leave from Iraq. The PRCUA Zakopane Polish Folk Dance Group had the honor of being the color guard.

Ceremonial first pitch throwers, Nicole Blaszcak and Jerry Lubiarz did commendable jobs and survived the tremendous applause. Sponsoring Polish fraternal group representatives were introduced before the game.

The Tiger loss dampened a rare three home run night by Miguel Cabrera. Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey earned his 10th save of the year. The A’s are now 9-2, in one-run games.

During an afterglow (poprawiny) at the Coaches Corner Bar & Grill, in Harmonie Park, former University of Buffalo football player Gerry Ratkewitz over piwa (Polish beer), mentioned, “I remember Al Kaline’s only three home run game in 1955 against Kansas City. Steve Gromek was the winning pitcher.” Detroit native son, Gromek, pitched for the Tigers at the time and was inducted into the NPASHF in 1981.

The Tigers will finish their home stand with a 1:05 PM, Thursday matinee against the Cleveland Indians. The game and festivities were acknowledged in the memory of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Maria Kaczynska and the 94 others who lost their lives in the tragic airplane crash of April, !0, 2010 in Smolensk, Russia.


THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS WERE REPRESENTED ON THE FIELD at COMERICA PARK:

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
ZAKOPANE POLISH FOLK DANCE GROUP
HONOR GUARD AMERICAN AND POLISH FLAGS

POLISH SCOUT ASSOCIATION
ZWIAZEK HARCERSTWA POLSKIEGO
DETROIT DIVISION

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
ROGALIN DANCE TROUPE
WYANDOTTE

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
HALKA DANCERS
DETROIT

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
OPOLE DANCERS
WARREN

POLISH WOMENS ALLIANCE
LOWICZ DANCERS
WARREN

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
POLSKIE MAKI DANCERS
HAMTRAMCK

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
MALA POLSKA FOLK ENSEMBLE
STERLING HEIGHTS

POLISH NATIONAL ALLIANCE
CENTENNIAL DANCERS
PLYMOUTH

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
SYRENA DANCERS
DEARBORN

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
ZAJACZEK DANCE ENSEMBLE
STERLING HEIGHTS

POLISH WOMENS ALLIANCE
ZAMEK DANCERS
DETROIT

POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA
WIELICZKA DANCERS
REDFORD

POLISH NATIONAL ALLIANCE
POLISH ALLIANCE DANCERS
DEARBORN

POLISH NATIONAL ALLIANCE
POLANIE SONG & DANCE ENSEMBLE
DEARBORN

 

 

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