Comerica Park Showcases
Polish Heritage In Detroit

By on July 2, 2014
Baseball-Paws-Polish-Night

DETROIT — There was music, heritage dancing and plenty of colorful costumes. It was the 44th annual Polish-American Night at Comerica Park. Even though the Minnesota Twins nipped the Tigers 2-0 in an old fashioned pitcher’s duel, the stadium concourse was festive and upbeat. The Detroit Tigers management even had Polish food in the press box and in the Tigers Den eating areas.

There was Polka Music outside the stadium as folks flowed into Comerica Park. Some even lingered to dance. Families lined up to take group photos and ‘selfies’ in front of the giant Tiger statue on the west side of the stadium.

baseball-polam-night-dancers-Comerica-DTW  There were over 450 dances, performers and chaperones on the field before the game. The dance groups were sponsored by the Polish National Alliance, the Polish Roman Catholic Union and the Polish Women’s Alliance. Near home plate, Celeste Grabowski of the Tigers did a masterful job of getting the pre-game group out on the field. Chris Ozog of the P.R.C.U. emceed with announcements and acknowledgements. Ozog was also on the Tigers radio pre-game broadcast with Jim Price.

Before the game, Detroit Tiger’s president Dave Dombrowski said, “All of the Tiger organization is thrilled to highlight the valuable efforts of the Polish Community in Detroit. We are delighted to help celebrate Polish heritage on this special day.

Kelly Salatowski of Wyandotte, Michigan was given the honor to throw out the ceremonial first pitch this year. With the color-guard just behind second base, Robert Szczublewski of Toledo, Ohio did a masterful job of singing both the Polish and American National Anthems.

The National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame had a display near the rightfield concourse.   Major League Baseball standout Ryan Klesko, heavyweight boxing champion Duane Bobick and All-American lineman Walt Patulski have been elected into the Class of 2014. The honor awards will be presented to the recipients at the 42nd Anniversary Induction Banquet on Thursday, June 19, 2014, at the American Polish-Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan.

Klesko played 16 Major League Baseball seasons (1992-2007) with Atlanta, San Diego and San Francisco, hitting 278 home runs, 987 RBI’s, and 1,564 hits during his major league career. He was an integral part of the Braves World Series Championship team of 1985, as well as two other Braves World Series teams. Named to the 2001 All-Star team in San Diego, Klesko batted .300 or better in four seasons and hit 21 or more home runs in eight seasons. He finished his career with a .279 career batting average.

Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson blanked the Tigers on five hits over seven innings. Gibson got Miguel Cabrera out with runners aboard to escape home team rallies twice. Eduardo Escobar drove in both runs for the Twins including a third-inning solo homer off Drew Smyly.

It was a tough loss for Smyly as the Tiger bats went cold.   As the evening progressed, most of the crowd stayed for the post-game fireworks which were accompanied by Polish music. The announced attendance was 39, 811.

Stella Szczęsny, a commissioner with the Polish National Alliance said near the Tiger’s Den, “The weather cooperated and it is wonderful having a full house.” Alina Klin with the Wayne State University Polish Language Program concurred, “Tonight is a pageant of color. I am seeing so many students and former students here. It is wonderful to be Polish.”

On Saturday, the Tigers did rebound to win 12-9. Tiger lefthander and Chicago area native son, Ian Krol, entered in the eighth and retired slugger Joe Mauer on a bases-loaded grounder. The Tigers still remained in first place in the Central Division with a slim one game margin over Kansas City.

By Raymond Rolak

 

 

THE FOLLOWING

ORGANIZATIONS and

DANCE TROUPES

PARTICIPATED on the FIELD for the PRE-GAME CEREMONIES

• POLISH SCOUT ASSOCIATION (ZHP) -

DETROIT DIVISION

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• ZAKOPANE POLISH FOLK DANCE ENSEMBLE

• HONOR GUARD for AMERICAN FLAG and POLISH FLAG

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• POLSKIE MAKI DANCERS of STERLING HEIGHTS

• POLISH WOMENS ALLIANCE

• ZAMEK DANCERS of DETROIT

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• OPOLE DANCERS of WARREN

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• ROGALIN DANCE TROUPE of WYANDOTTE

• POLISH WOMENS ALLIANCE

• LOWICZ DANCERS of WARREN

• POLISH NATIONAL ALLIANCE

• CENTENNIAL DANCERS of PLYMOUTH

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• GWIAZDA DANCERS of HAMTRAMCK

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• TATRY DANCERS of DEARBORN HEIGHTS

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• WIELICZKA DANCERS of REDFORD

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• SYRENA DANCE ENSEMBLE of DEARBORN

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• HALKA DANCERS of DETROIT

• POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION OF AMERICA

• ZAJACZEK DANCE ENSEMBLE of STERLING HEIGHTS

 

Editors Note: Raymond Rolak is a past chairman of the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame.