HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — As part of this year’s Juneteenth celebrations, the city of Hamtramck unveiled its newly refurbished baseball stadium today.
The historic facility was built in 1930 for the Negro baseball league, a time when African-Americans were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues.
Now the Hamtramck Stadium remains one of only five major Negro Leagues home ballparks across the country.
The $2.6 million rehabilitation project at the former home of the Detroit Stars began last August and concluded this month.
The grandstand construction project was managed by Wayne County, which also allocated federal CDBG funds to the City of Hamtramck for this project. Additional funding was provided by National Park Service African American Civil Rights grants, the Detroit Tigers Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.
Adam Millikin used to be part of the stadium's ground crew. For the 56- year-old the stadium is the future of people of color playing baseball.
"It has unlimited potential, it can surpass, Comerica, Utica baseball, and minor league baseball, because smack in the middle of Hamtramck," said Adam Millikin.
Echoing the same sentiment was pioneering Detroit player and coach Ron Teasley Sr. He is one of four living players from the Negro Leagues’ era.
"The stadium was filled with African Americans, and as a result of seeing so many people enjoying the game and showing their appreciation for the start of play, it inspired me to get into the game of baseball," said Ron Teasley Sr., former Detroit player and coach.
Ron says the facility was a game-changer for more African Americans playing Major League Baseball.
"Softball was very big back then, but when they moved into the stadium more boys started to play baseball. And as a result, we had tremendous teams and Negro league teams started to expand and the caliber played started to improve even more," said Ron Teasley Sr., former Detroit player and coach.
The path created then paved the way for future generations. Just like for 17-year-old Daveion Williams, who is a Detroiter at heart and a catcher on the field.
"It set the tone for black people playing baseball and now we know have to be at a high level playing baseball," Daveion Williams, baseball player.
MLB’s recent report shows as of Opening Day 2022, 38 percent were players of color, of which 18 percent were Black. For comparison, back in 1991, it was 7.2 percent.
"I love seeing people of my color going to play at their best potential," said Daveion Williams.