Photo: Rob St. Mary / WWJ

Rocker Jack White Plays In Charity Baseball Game To Benefit Hamtramck Stadium

Renovations are in the plans for the former home of the Detroit Stars.

July 11, 2019 - 5:23 pm

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WWJ) -- Detroit rocker Jack White is in town to kick off his world tour this weekend with The Raconteurs.

But on Thursday, he had a little business to tend to first -- a charity baseball game at Hamtramck Stadium to help restore the historic stadium, the former home of the Detroit Stars of the Negro Leagues.

White brought the sandlot game featuring local musicians and friends to the field on Dan Street near Joseph Campau Avenue, as hundreds of fans showed up to help raise funds for the restoration project, which aims to rejuvenate the baseball field and add soccer and cricket pitches for public use, as well as updating existing structures.

Hamtramck Stadium is one of just five Negro League stadiums still around today, and White says that part of history is something that can't be lost.

"Teach your grandchildren, teach your children, teach your nieces and nephews who Satchel Paige was and who Turkey Stearns was and why it's important that they played here and why we should honor that and make this a monument that isn't just a dead monument, but a living monument where you can play and participate and spread that knowledge," White said.

Photo: Rob St. Mary / WWJ
White has been involved with the Friends of Hamtramck Stadium group in raising money towards the renovation project. Growing up in Detroit, White played several sports at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. His memories of learning to love the game at his neighborhood park are one of the driving forces behind his efforts to restore part of history.

"I grew up playing hockey there, too, but baseball was my main love when I was coming up sports-wise. That’s where it started," he said. "And then with the Detroit Tigers, just being in love with them over the years."

A noted Tigers fan and baseball enthusiast, White has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at Comerica Park and enjoys taking in games at ballparks across the country.

White played in Thursday's game with fellow musicians and employees of Warstic, a company he is co-owner of that produces MLB-certified bats. He says these types of sandlot games are something he likes to do in cities across the country as he tours.

"Used to call it barnstorming baseball – we’ve been doing that where we say, ‘hey, put together a team,’ and that’s what we did here. Guys put together a team we can play against and they did," he said.

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski says it's great having White's help with the stadium's rejuvenation.

"It’s very cool and we really appreciate Jack’s support for the stadium and for baseball and for Hamtramck," she said.

As hundreds of fans turned out, the game raised funds via donations and an online auction of memorabilia.

Tam Davis of Gathersberg, Maryland, was one of several hundred fans who came out to see White in action before he kicks off his tour with The Raconteurs at the Masonic Temple on Friday and Saturday.

"Unfortunately, the team that I root for – the Baltimore Orioles – are doing lousy, so I’m happy to be watching another team today and to be able to root for Jack," she said.

The project is estimated to cost around $18 million. While they hope to have the park open to the public in some capacity this summer, the whole project is expected to take a year or two.