You’re From Detroit???

Yesterday, I took a walk down memory lane, visiting a special store called The Detroit Shoppe. I was inspired to share some thoughts about what makes me proud to be from Detroit.

I was chaperoning a field trip with my husband’s marketing class to a local shopping center that is a national attraction, Somerset Collection. It was fascinating to learn many of their statistics, especially given how hard the Motor City has been hit with the economic recession. Somerset gives us many reasons to be proud, not only for their accomplishments in tough times and the services they provide for their customers, but for the many ways they give back to the community.

Part of Somerset’s mission is to combat the negative image of Detroit, so they collaborated with a myriad of Detroit vendors and charities to create The Detroit Shoppe, an exhibit and retail space that celebrates wonderful things from Detroit. It was exciting to see!

Actually, every time I am asked where I am from when I travel or do media interviews, people are genuinely surprised to hear me say, “Detroit.”

“Detroit?! Isn’t it Awful There?”

Well, no, it isn’t.

Certain parts of town are not “good”, but, there are many wonderful highlights. Like Somerset Collection. Like our downtown river walk and four major sports teams (three of which play in Downtown.) Our Better Made potato chips are the envy of all who visit and we are always within a few miles of a beautiful lake, never more than two hours away from four magnificent freshwater seas!

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we are north of Canada. If I want to get to Canada from my home, I would have to travel 30 miles SOUTH on I-75 to reach Windsor, Ontario.

Detroit Has a Gracious Spirit

The best thing about Detroit, however, is the people! I recently met a news reporter in New York and recognized him right away; he used to be on the local Detroit news. He was thrilled to learn of our Detroit connection and talked about his years here with great fondness. He explained that he was originally from Pennsylvania and was living there when he had the “big opportunity” to work in Detroit.

“My wife cried,” he said. “She did not want to live in what she thought would be an ‘awful’ place. But, years later when I transferred to New York to be closer to family, she cried again; she did not want to leave the fantastic friends she made in Detroit!”

Imagine that…someone crying because they didn’t want to leave Detroit and head for NYC! You don’t hear that on the news.

Baseball’s “Perfect” Game – With 28 Outs

We are a sports town! I believe our shared spirit in sports helps connect people and bring out the best (usually) in the community. I don’t think any situation can better illustrate the spirit of Detroiters more than a surreal happening here in Detroit this past June. Even if you do not know much about baseball, I hope you will hang in for this inspiring story…

One evening, a Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was on the verge of pitching a Perfect Game, not allowing a single runner to reach base during the entire game. This feat has only been accomplished 20 times in the 135-year history of Major League Baseball! In the ninth inning, with two outs, Armando threw another pitch, the batter ran, and was tagged out at first. History had been made!

The crowd went crazy. The players on the field started jumping up and down! Then, just as quickly as the cheers began, they ended. It became silent. 18,000 fans stood still; they were in disbelief. It suddenly registered with everyone that the first-base umpire called the runner safe. “How could that be?” everyone thought. The reply on the jumbotron confirmed the runner was out. The crowd became angry.

The pitcher, Galarraga, was stunned and in disbelief. But, he stayed perfectly calm, returned to the mound, and with one more throw, pitched a ground out to end the game.

Unfortunately, that evening will go down in history as only a “near-perfect” game. Galarraga came so very close to accomplishing what only a very, very few major league players could ever do, but the umpire’s call cannot be reversed. There is no “challenge” or “reply” in baseball. The call stands.

The umpire, Jim Joyce, immediately went below deck and asked to see a replay. He saw his mistake, and felt awful. He immediately went to the press and publicly apologized. He was visibly angry with himself and felt horrible for having cost Galarraga a place in history.

Later that night, he asked the President of the team if he could meet Galarraga in person,which is very unprecedented for an umpire to do. The two met; Joyce apologized, cried, and hugged Galarraga. Galarraga generously replied, “I understand.”

Suddenly, Detroit fans understood that the real disappointment was for Joyce. As a 22-year veteran of the game with an impeccable record, it was simply a momentary lapse in his judgment. Now, after dedicating his life to a game he loves, he will be most well-known for the worst call of his life.

The anger dissipated and most of Detroit suddenly became fans of Joyce, too. Recognizing his anguish and understanding that human error is a part of baseball, we were touched by the sportsmanship he displayed in admitting his mistake and caring so deeply about how it affected Galarraga.

At the home game the next evening, the Tigers’ manager held a ceremonial greeting on the field, having Galarraga take the evening’s line-up card to Joyce. The crowd greeted Joyce with applause, recognizing his class. Joyce accepted the lineup card and shook Galarraga’s hand with tears streaming down his face.

The Tigers’ manager said it best, “I’m proud to be the manager of this franchise and I’m proud to manage for these fans. They showed me a lot of class today and it was a hard thing to do. They are competitors in this town, they’ve had to be forever. To accept that was tough. But they did it like champions and I’m proud of them.”

The Spirit Of Detroit

There is actually a 26-foot statue at Detroit’s municipal building in Downtown called the “Spirit of Detroit.” I’ve walked and driven past it countless times throughout my life, but as I am writing this, I just researched more information about it.

For the first time, I am learning what it represents; it holds a bronze sphere emanating rays to symbolize God In its left hand and a family group symbolizing all human relationships in its right hand. On the wall behind it, the words from 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to live in a city with this much spirit? I hope you will come visit us sometime!

-Susan Kruger


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