DETROIT -- The Tigers went into Spring Training with a slogan for the 2020 team: Detroit Roots. It was simultaneously a nod to the club’s effort to build from within and an appreciation of the rich history of one of the American League’s founding franchises. Now, it has a whole
DETROIT -- The Tigers went into Spring Training with a slogan for the 2020 team: Detroit Roots. It was simultaneously a nod to the club’s effort to build from within and an appreciation of the rich history of one of the American League’s founding franchises. Now, it has a whole new meaning.
With the coronavirus pandemic leading to a 60-game season without fans in the stands, Detroit roots for the Tigers from places other than Comerica Park. The team is taking that slogan to heart to find ways to connect with fans outside the ballpark.
Detroit Roots was already a rallying cry for the city. Amid the pandemic impacting nearly every aspect of life, and the ongoing push for social change and equal justice, Detroit roots for Detroit.
“In essence, in Detroit Roots, we're all rooting for each other through all the challenges we face as a community,” said Ellen Zeringue, the club’s vice president of marketing. “We want our fans to root for one another with the Detroit Tigers on the field being the catalyst.”
With the Detroit Roots from Home initiative, the Tigers are trying to foster ways for fans to follow along, especially online through tigers.com as well as social media channels. Meme generators, the #DetroitRoots hashtag and Olde English D stencils provide a way for fans to show their pride. Downloadable lineup cards allow fans to track the game, play by play, as they follow along on television, radio or online. In addition, the Tigers have designed T-shirts and pins with the Detroit Roots design, all with the Olde English D at the center.
“The Olde English D means something to everybody in this community,” Zeringue said. “We want to leverage that connection.”
Fans are also encouraged to share photos and videos from wherever they are, from Detroit to around the world and shout out to players for possible inclusion on the Comerica Park scoreboard during home games. Members of the community have been chosen for player introductions when the starting lineup is announced before home games -- youth organization representatives in Monday’s home opener, front-line heroes for the next game. Tigers players and coaches held up tribute cards to recognize essential workers during Tuesday’s seventh-inning stretch.
“I would say this particular group of young men, they’re very passionate about the city, they’re very passionate and thoughtful about how they interact with our fans and having them more rooted in the city has been very rewarding,” Zeringue said.
Whatever happens on the field in this abbreviated season, the hope is that the Tigers and baseball can provide a sense of belonging, of community and of stability.
“We've been here through recessions and world wars,” Zeringue said. “We're not going anywhere.”
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.