Posted by: Kath Usitalo | October 12, 2011

Homemade: City of Champions

Author Charles Avison holds a metal engraved plaque depicting the sports heroes who made Detroit the City of Champions in 1935

Detroit is rocking with three of its pro sports teams delivering heart-stopping thrills and keeping jersey-garbed fans glued to game coverage.

The city’s sports nuts are legendary in their devotion to their teams, and this week the reasons are obvious: With Monday’s win over the Chicago Bears the Lions take a 5-0 record to Sunday’s NFL game against San Francisco; the Tigers are working to top Texas for the American League pennant; and the Red Wings, with a 2-0-0 NHL start, take to the ice against the Canucks on Thursday night.

But even when the losses outnumber the wins Detroiters have always, it seems, rabidly supported their teams.

Charles C. Avison analyzes one aspect of the city’s sports phenomenon in his book, Detroit, City of Champions.

The photo and info-packed soft cover book studies one incredible year in Detroit sports history, the season in which the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings all won their first championship titles: 1935.

It was also the year that boxer Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber,” defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer.

But wait, there’s more!

In what he calls “The story of the most important year in Detroit sports history,” Avison chronicles the 1935 championships and/or world records in golf, tennis, diving, speed boat racing, fencing, billiards, checkers and other games—Detroit winners all.

The project is a labor of love by the Western Michigan University history grad, who sells the book for $29.99 at shows, fairs, and the Art-is-in Market at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. That’s where Paige and I met Charles when we squeezed in a quick shopping excursion during her long weekend home.

This is the second location for the “Original Made-in-Michigan Art Gallery,” which launched in 2005 at Laurel Park Place mall in Livonia.

Dexter-based artist Pam O'Hara with some of her functional pottery at the Art-is-in Market at Twelve Oaks Mall

Charles and ceramic artist Pam O’Hara, who makes clean-lined functional pottery, were working the store. It’s part of the agreement artists make when exhibiting and selling work at the shop(s).

The two said that there are over 90 artists represented at the Twelve Oaks location; the Laurel Park store is smaller.

In addition to his book Charles sells prints and a metal display plaque ($70) of historic photos and news clippings culled from the reams of research he did in writing and publishing the tome.

Whether the local teams actually bring home the world titles or not, Detroit, City of Champions is a must-have for the die-hard Motor City sports fan.



  1. thanks for highlighting those two folk ! not sure..but think one of our alumni has her work (art , oils) there in 12 oak art market…dawn sgriccia. ! beautiful art !

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