UDM Professor Releases Documentary on "The Corner" at Michigan and Trumbull
University of Detroit Mercy Communications Studies professor Jason Roche’s newest documentary, Stealing Home, premieres Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Booth Auditorium of the Detroit Historical Museum.
Stealing Home is a uniquely Detroit documentary film about a group of determined citizens who have lovingly restored a garbage-strewn, weed-choked vacant lot against the wishes of the City, which owns the land. But this is not just any lot, it is the site where Detroit’s historic Tiger Stadium once stood. In the glory days of Detroit baseball, fans packed the 53,000 seat-venue on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues.
After the demolition of Tiger Stadium in 2009, the resulting blight spawned an unexpected and heartwarming tale. Some amateur groundskeepers emerged to preserve the field, calling themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew, named after the stadium’s original name.
“It’s a great story in a city that needs to hear great stories,” says director/producer Roche. “With all the negative headlines, with all the pundits using Detroit as the butt of their jokes, this was something that really moved me. I wanted this story to show the world that the people who live here haven’t given up on Detroit, that this city is worth fighting for,” he added.
But city officials don’t consider this a feel-good story. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, which controls the city-owned field believe that the volunteers are causing actual harm by deterring potential investors from the site. The City has refused to give permission to the grounds crew to keep it up, and police have actually threatened the volunteers with trespassing charges, but the Navin Field Grounds Crew remains undeterred.
“That spot is where Detroit dies, or where it’s reborn,” says David Fleming, senior writer at ESPN the Magazine. “And if it’s reborn, it’s because of the efforts of people like the people who have saved that field.”
Roche has been following the grounds crew since Opening Day of 2011. In that time, they’ve transformed the field from just another abandoned Detroit eyesore to a bona fide tourist attraction. Thousands of fans have visited “The Corner” to wish them well, to run the bases, and to share their personal memories. Many people have sprinkled the ashes of their deceased loved ones where Al Kaline and Willie Horton roamed the outfield, Hank Greenberg and Cecil Fielder slammed home runs, and the greatest names in baseball once played our national pastime. In recent months, several couples have even exchanged wedding vows on the field.
Featuring a captivating blend of interviews and archival footage, including some never-before-seen footage from the 1930s and 1940s, Stealing Home explores the rich history of Tiger Stadium and takes a critical look at why these passionate citizens are so devoted to this site, what makes preserving memory so important, and whether this abandoned baseball field can truly be considered sacred ground.
On opening day in 1912, Ty Cobb scored the Tigers’ first ever run at Navin Field by stealing home against the Cleveland Indians. More than 100 years later, director Jason Roche sets out to determine whether these amateur groundskeepers can continue to restore their field of dreams or whether they'll get caught stealing home.
To view Stealing Home and to coordinate an interview about the documentary, contact UDM professor/filmmaker Jason Roche at 313-993-1092.
Release date: October 26, 2013
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