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Published: Sunday, 10/22/2006

Tigers frenzy grips downtown

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mark Chapin and Carolyn Stock-Chapin share a kiss at Comerica Park before the game. Mark Chapin and Carolyn Stock-Chapin share a kiss at Comerica Park before the game.
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DETROIT - They wanted a quiet, serene backdrop for their wedding photos.

Comerica Park in October typically fits that criteria.

But not yesterday. Not this year. And that's absolutely OK with Mark Chapin and Carolyn Stock.

The couple from Chicago, who married at noon yesterday, didn't expect this mayhem when they began making wedding plans in February.

"It's very special. It's a beautiful moment to be together right now in front of all these people and all these fans," Stock said.

As Chapin and Stock, er, Stock-Chapin celebrated matrimony, thousands of Tigers fans celebrated their team being in the World Series for the first time since Prince was still referred to as Prince.

Downtown Detroit was hopping several hours before the opening pitch of the first game of the World Series between the Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.

To enter a bar, you had to be on a first-name basis with the bouncer. To score a ticket, one would have to take out a loan or do something illegal. Twenty-two years of planning was needed for this fiesta.

Dan Novack of Redford, Mich., tries to pump up the arriving fans. Dan Novack of Redford, Mich., tries to pump up the arriving fans.
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"It's just immense," said Roger Stasak of Canton, Mich. "I think it's bigger than the Super Bowl [hosted by the city last February]."

But the mood in downtown was more mild than wild, perhaps because fans are shocked their Tigers are still playing. But the Detroit faithful are very comfortable when discussing their chances this series.

"Everyone's very, very confident," said Christine Wofford of Canton, Mich. "I heard most people saying [the Tigers will win] in six games, but I'm saying sweep."

Wofford was standing outside the front gate at Comerica in a light blue and white Cinderella dress - accompanied by a crown and magic wand - holding a sign that read "Cinderella Story" - only the "D" was of the old English variety that appears on Tigers' paraphernalia.

Another Cinderella had her date yesterday. And a Tigers win would be the topping on a memorable evening for Stock-Chapin.

The wedding party, which arrived at the ballpark's northwest end about 5 p.m. in a white limousine, planned to watch the game at the Detroit Club, the location of the wedding reception. Stock-Chapin wasn't going to let a wedding get in the way of the team she's followed since early childhood. She was in fifth grade the last time Detroit was here, and she can rattle off the names of just about everyone on that team. She even made Stock become a Tigers fan before she agreed to marry him.

"I've been a die-hard Tiger fan my whole life, and it's been part of my family forever. My grandpa sold peanuts at old Tiger Stadium. We've been a part of this ball club forever," said Stock-Chapin, originally from Royal Oak, Mich.

She wasn't the only person excited to celebrate in the company of others. James Hicks of Clinton Township was serving in the military in '84 when the Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres in the World Series.

He was the only Detroit fan among his fellow soldiers watching the series on TV in North Carolina.

"I was all alone, and boy was I talking it up," Hicks said.

Hicks, who was still searching for tickets to the game, was layered in Red Wings, Lions, Pistons, and Wolverines apparel, but just one team really mattered to him yesterday.

"This takes precedence over any game. This whole series takes precedence over anything," he said.

Apparently, it also takes precedence over loyalty.

Cleveland's Mike Cash, disregarding his allegiance to the Indians, sported a Tigers fleece jacket and ball cap. Cash came to the game with his father-in-law, Tom Daily, of Wayne, Mich. Daily's been a Tigers fan since 1945, and perhaps his passion is rubbing off on Cash.

"Cleveland was very exciting in '95 and '97 [during the World Series], but there's something about Tigers fans," Cash said. "Indians fans are just not as die-hard as you get with Tigers fans.

"These people would be out here watching the game if the Tigers were 20 games out of first place."

But yesterday, no one cared to recall those memories.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com.



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