Tigers fans show support from overseas
Club's special season brings joy to many far and wide
There isn't much that Wes Griffith has to connect him with home.Stationed with the Army in Iraq and deployed overseas for the third time since September 11, Griffith is limited with the contact that he has back home in the United States. But there is one thing he is able to stay in touch with that gets him through the days -- baseball. A devoted fan of the Detroit Tigers since he was young, Griffith makes sure to check the scores of games every day to see how his team is doing even if he can't watch the games. "I always have an easier day when the Tigers win," Griffith said from Baghdad. "I know that sounds a bit corny, but little things add up. If we're not talking about our mission here, we're talking sports and our families. And there's nothing like your team dominating the league and going to the World Series." Griffith is just one of the many Tigers fans who have stopped by Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson's blog to leave their own words of support for the club. If Robertson's blog is any indication, Tigers fans aren't just limited to the Detroit area or even just the United States, as Griffith himself has demonstrated. The unexpected success of the Tigers has brought out fans from far and wide to take part in what all have deemed to be a very special season. But one thing that all the fans like to make very clear is that while the nation of fans might be a bit more visible this year with the success, it's a group of fans that has been with the team for much longer than just this year. "I haven't been telling people this year that I'm 'proud to be a Tigers fan again,'" said Glenn Codere, 46, of Glasgow, Scotland. "Because I've always been proud to be a Tigers fan, even through all the lean years. Still, a little success is nice, isn't it?" The success has been nice for Codere but like many Tigers fans overseas can attest, being a fan outside of the United States can have its downfalls. Watching live games often means staying up until the wee hours of the morning to see just how their beloved Tigers will do. "Thanks to the time difference where games starting at 7 p.m. ET begin at midnight in Scotland, my boss can always tell when the Tigers have been on TV, as I turn up for work bleary-eyed and yawning the next day," Codere said. Still that seems a small price to pay for some for fans like Karin Kelsey, who grew up near the Tigers and now must try to find any means of staying in touch with her hometown team. Kelsey recently moved to Toluca, Mexico, as part of her job and for her, it's still about trying to stay as close to the team that has been such a large part of her life. "I remember playing outside and hearing Ernie Harwell call the game from the radio inside our garage," Kelsey, 28, said of growing up in Saginaw, Mich. "I remember riding my bike with my brothers to the local 7-Eleven, so we could buy Slurpees and see what Tiger baseball circle card we would find under the bottom of the cup. The Tigers have always provided great memories for me, my friends and my family." And while some fans, like Kelsey, who are taking part in this special season have ties to Detroit from their youth, others became fans of the Tigers without having known the city. One of those fans is 20-year-old Colt Rosensweig. A native of Menlo Park, Calif., Rosensweig didn't start following the Tigers until she was around six years old. The precocious youngster had received a stuffed animal tiger and with a love of baseball just starting to develop, learned that there was a team whose mascot was the same as her beloved toy. From there a passion for the club developed and hasn't ceased. "Being a really blatant Tigers fan in California definitely got me some teasing over the years," Rosensweig said. "But I managed to convert most of my friends into Tigers fans." And Rosensweig isn't the only fan who happened upon the Tigers by chance. "I think I picked the Tigers just for their name," said Paul Martin, 43, who grew up near a USAF base in London, England. "But I became a true fan and the only way I could follow their fortunes was through the Armed Forces Radio Network. The reception was often dreadful, but I still got to develop my understanding and love of the game." The love for the Tigers has continued for most of these fans even when the club suffered through rough years like 2003, when the club lost 119 games. But for Rosensweig and other Tigers fans, the success of this year has more than made up for all the tough times. "As a Tigers fan, you have a lot more bad times than good so you appreciate the good times and the little things to the fullest," Rosensweig said. "It means you know what it is to give your heart and soul to a team, despite the risk of heartbreak. A Tigers fan knows the lowest lows -- so all these highs we're having are that much more special." "As a Tigers fan, you appreciate the timelessness of the game," said Brian Jordan, 54, of Washington, D.C. "A pennant every 20 years or so, you stick with your team and don't give up your true colors for short-term relief." And it's that long-term dedication that seems to be paying off for many of those devoted Tigers faithful. Tim Andrews knows that firsthand as he grew up in Michigan as a fan of the Tigers. Now in the Navy, Andrews has been stationed in Norfolk, Va., for the past three years and has spent the past six months deployed in the Middle East. Still, he has found time to follow the Tigers' run in the playoffs. "It's hard to show your pride when your halfway around the world, but my pride is soaring now," Andrews said. "This season, these Tigers, have sparked my rebirth in the world of baseball, and couldn't have come at a more important time in my life."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.