“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

For generations, baseball fans across the great state of Michigan would listen with anticipation as the late Ernie Harwell, longtime Detroit Tiger’s radio broadcaster, recited the ‘Voice of the Turtle’, signaling the start of another season of baseball in the Motor City. While there have been countless memories made on opening day, discover just a little about the history behind this unofficial holiday in Detroit.

117 seasons

The Tigers will open the 2018 season against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, March 29, marking the 117th inaugural season in the American League. For years, fans enjoyed ballgames at Tiger Stadium (formerly Navin Field and Briggs Stadium) before following the team to its new home at Comerica Park in 2000. If you’ll be in Detroit celebrating opening day this year, don’t miss out on the Beacon Park tailgate!

Winners on opening day

Since 1901, the Tigers own a 66-50 record on opening day games played in Detroit with the most frequent opponent being the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers are 11-6 in their 17 home openers at Comerica Park since 2000 and have won their last five opening day games dating back to 2012.

Flocking downtown to see the team

On April 6, 1971, 54,089 fans filled Tiger Stadium to see the Tigers take the field against the Cleveland Indians. This would prove to be the largest crowd at an opening day game in Detroit’s history, and the home team thrilled spectators with an 8-2 victory behind a complete game by pitcher Mickey Lolich. It was one of seven opening day starts by Lolich.

Millions of hot dogs

According to Pure Michigan, around 30,000 hot dogs are sold at a Detroit Tigers game on average. When looking at the Tiger’s long and storied history, that’s more than 3 million hot dogs consumed on opening day alone!

Be sure to check out our other Your Neighborhood blogs for more great Michigan history.