The Final Season

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Final Season: Fathers, Sons, and One Last Season in a Classic American Ballpark is a wonderful memoir written by a Detroit journalist and father who decides for reasons that he himself does not understand at first to attend all 81 home games played by the Detroit Tigers in 1999, their last season in Tiger Stadium. Tom Stanton hopes that his physical presence in this old stadium, which has been a part of the Detroit landscape since 1912, will help him to understand his often strained relationships with his parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, wife, and children. He comes to appreciate that this enclosed stadium where so many generations of his family and fellow working class people in Detroit had experienced years of failure and only three championships by their beloved Tigers is a special place in which time seems to have stopped. In this decaying stadium, that was replaced by Comerica Park in 2000, Stanton has the time to dream and to think about the passage of time, death, and family experiences.

Stanton dutifully records what happened in all eighty-one games, as a journalist should, but he also writes about more personal thoughts. He remembers that his late grandfather Theodore Stankiewicz was a Polish immigrant who identified with Detroit players of Eastern European origin. Stanton recalls that baseball helped Grandpa Stankiewicz to understand America. Despite his problems in dealing with his teenage son’s growing independence, Stanton comes to realize that they both share a love of baseball and they treasure the hours that they spend together in Tiger Stadium.

This is a moving and unpretentious book that describes very well the mystical power that baseball still holds for many Americans.