Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 28, 2013

FILMichigan: Tiger Town

Tiger broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell interviews Roy Scheider in Tiger Town

Sports broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell interviews Roy Scheider in Tiger Town

Tiger Town: 1983 Family drama written and directed by Alan Shapiro, starring Roy Scheider, Justin Henry, Ron McLarty, Bethany Carpenter, with appearances (as themselves) by Ernie Harwell, Al Ackerman, Ray Lane, and other familiar local faces (and voices) including Supreme Mary Wilson singing the National Anthem

Unknown-6With another season of Tiger baseball about to begin I remembered  a sweet film, made in Detroit by a former Detroiter, that celebrates America’s pastime.

More than 15 years before the city’s ball club abandoned historic Tiger Stadium at the close of the 1999 season, filmmaker Alan Shapiro proudly showcased his hometown affection in this movie, the first that Disney produced for its cable channel.

Tiger Town is a touching story of a young boy (Justin Henry) and his belief in his hero, a retiring Detroit Tiger baseball player (Roy Scheider). The kid has faith in the aging outfielder’s ablity to finish his career with a bang—and the pennant.

Shapiro coddles his city in scenes from car plant to café, Eastern Market to the legendary ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The lad makes his frantic way to the ballpark on a fictional route only Detroiters will know is impossible.

The Tigers played their last game in the stadium at Michigan and Trumbull in September 1999

The Tigers played their last game in the stadium at Michigan and Trumbull in September 1999 (file photo)

During the filming way back when, T.J. and I, in a quest for stardom (or one of the prizes being raffled throughout the day) spent an afternoon in Tiger Stadium seats with a couple of hundred other Hollywood-crazed extras.

It took movie magic to make it look like there was a real crowd in the stands. Any close-ups of T.J. and I that might have been, however, landed on the cutting room floor. So much for stardom. We didn’t win the toaster, either.

You may be able to view this little family film online or find a copy at a library.

Or, if you hurry, you can buy a VHS copy on ebay for $900 (or best offer).

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