The Tigers take time every year to celebrate the contributions of the Negro Leagues to the game of baseball. This year marked the 14th annual celebration where fans were given the opportunity to pay tribute to the "stars" of the past.
"Stars come out to Shine"
The tenth annual Detroit Stars singing competition kicked off the weekend festivities. The top 10 finalists from earlier competitions took the stage at Comerica Park in front of celebrity judges to showcase their vocal talent.
This year, the Detroit Tigers, in partnership with Radio One, hosted the competition in front of a panel of celebrity judges including Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Marvin Jones Jr., wife of 1968 World Champion Willie Horton, Gloria Horton, Marsha Wood, wife of 2010 Willie Horton African American Legacy Award recipient Jake Wood, and FOX 2 WJBX entertainment reporter Lee Thomas. Competition was fierce, as performers were evaluated on vocal ability, showmanship, crowd response, and song selection. Alise Williams was named this year's winner, and received a grand prize of $2,000 and will perform the national anthem on September 28 when the Tigers take on the Cleveland Indians.
Honoring the Tradition
The Detroit Tigers continue the celebration of African Americans and their numerous contributions to the game of baseball with a "Passing of the Bat" pregame ceremony. The ceremony embodies the past, present and future contributions of African American ballplayers to the game of baseball and includes ballplayers from all areas of Detroit baseball.
Stories of Glory
On Saturday, June 4, the Detroit Tigers held a round table discussion and a Q&A session featuring former Negro League Players. Hosted by radio personality John Mason, nine former Negro Leagues players participated in an interactive discussion with fans to chronicle their career highlights and to share intimate stories about the Negro Leagues.
Continuing a Rich Legacy
The Detroit Tigers Willie Horton African-American Legacy Award is a special recognition, designed to celebrate the contributions of African-American Detroit Tigers players to the rich history of Detroit Tigers baseball. His legacy lives on through various Detroit Tigers programs and initiatives, such as The Willie Horton African American Legacy Award which honors individuals who have impacted Detroit communities, the Tigers organization, and served as an ambassador for the game of baseball. The award was first presented to former Tiger and 1968 World Champion, Gates Brown in 2009. Additional recipients of the award include: Lou Whitaker (2015) Bill Bruton (2014), Larry Herndon (2013), Earl Wilson (2012), and Jake Wood (2010). The Tigers presented 1984 World Champion and three-time All-Star Chet Lemon with the 2016 Willie Horton African American Legacy Award during a special pre-game on-field ceremony.
In 1998, the baseball Commissioner established the creation of the Diverse Business Partners program, an economically driven business initiative established to cultivate new and existing partnerships with minority- and women-owned businesses, by increasing opportunities for minorities and women to participate in the procurement activities of Major League Baseball. Each year the Detroit Tigers recognize an outstanding individual for their contributions to local business and the advancement of diverse leadership in the workplace.
On June 29th, 2016, the Detroit Tigers welcomed 58 individuals to Comerica Park to be sworn in as American citizens on the field. The oath was administered by Judge David Lawson through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for the United States Department of Justice. The new citizens and their family members received complimentary tickets courtesy of the Detroit Tigers to enjoy America's Favorite Pastime after officially becoming citizens of the United States.
To pay tribute to the legacy of Jackie Robinson, the Detroit Tigers partnered with Comerica Bank and Major League Baseball to host two screenings of the movie "42" for students Detroit Edison Public School Academy and athletes from Don Bosco Hall. Following the film, students participated in Q & A sessions and a panel discussion. Participating students received a "42" patch courtesy of MLB.