Hamtramck's historic Negro League ballpark to undergo major renovations
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (FOX 2) - A piece of history in Hamtramck is getting some big renovations. The project at Turkey Stearns Stadium Field kicked off Tuesday at the 90-year-old stadium once home to the Negro League's Detroit Stars.
"Today we are witnessing a new era at Norman Turkey Stearns Stadium Field also known as Historic Hamtramck Stadium," said Gary Gillette.
It's one of only a handful of former Negro League ballparks still standing, but barely. A team of community and business leaders got together to restore historic Hamtramck Stadium back to its glory days.
"I didn't think it would happen, I hoped it would happen, and I am glad it happened," said Ron Teasley.
Teasley, 94, is a former Negro League outfielder. He remembers playing at the ballpark during a time when African-Americans could not play in Major League Baseball.
"It's all about the history of baseball and the history of our country."
The Detroit Tigers Foundation is part of that team working to help fund the $2.6 million restoration project.
"Beyond restoring the grandstand, the roof, concrete, and steel - we will expand our recognition of the Negro Leagues as well as support youth clinics and camp on this site," said Christopher Ilitch, president & CEO of Ilitch Holdings. "We look forward to bringing Tigers players, coaches, and colleagues here to inspire and teach young players."
The National Anthem was performed by the daughters of Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, a standout for The Detroit Stars back in the 1920s.
The Wayne County Commission also part of the funding team, recently approving an $850,000 dollar grant proposal from County Executive Warren Evans to jumpstart this restoration project.
Hamtramck Stadium has received other funding in the past for restoration work just last year - receiving grant money from the National Park Service.