Get Balls And Autographs at Comerica Park

The Get Balls And Autographs at Comerica Park
by Malcolm MacMillan
  • Outfield is a fun place to be during BP
  • Select players typically sign around dugouts pre-game
Tigers pitchers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer sign for fans near the home dugout in 2011.

If you’re determined to get a ball during your visit to Comerica Park, the best thing you can do is get to the park as early as you can before the gates open. Regardless of the day of the week, Comerica Park’s gates open 1:35 before first pitch (ie: 5:30 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. game) and even if you get to the park two hours before first pitch, you’ll likely see a handful of fans milling about. Try to get as close to the head of the line as you can and once the gates open, bolt to the right or left field stands. BP will already be underway, so there’s a chance you might come across a ball laying on the ground or in the fold of a seat. If you can, run up and down the aisles, looking left and right, to hope to find a ball.

Otherwise, grab your glove, find an open area and keep a close eye on the batter. The odds of a ball being hit directly at you are slim, of course, so standing on the aisle allows you to move quickly to track down balls. Very few fans make clean catches, so be ready for crazy bounces.

During the game, you can do more to help you chances of catching a foul ball than just sitting with your fingers crossed. As you’ll notice upon a trip to the infield, Comerica Park has a wide cross-aisle directly above the field level seats, and hanging out here is a great way to be agile once a player pops one up over the screen. Sure, not all balls will land in the cross-aisle itself, but being in this area allows to bolt left or right to catch a ball on the carom – or, if you’re lucky, on the fly. The wide cross-aisle accommodates those with standing room tickets in this area but Detroit’s ushers are some of the friendliest you’ll encounter. As long as you’re staying out of the way and minding your manners, you likely won’t be shooed away. If you don’t mind moving, head to the first base side for right-handed batters and the third base side for lefties; doing so gives you a better shot at a ball.

Like in any park, it’s often possible to get autographs around the dugouts between the time the gates open and close to first pitch. A handful of guys from each team will typically sign a handful of autographs on their respective sides of the field. The key to success, beyond being polite, having your item ready and ideally having a cute smile, is to get to field level as quickly as possible to secure a spot between the dugout and bullpen. Some days, guys will sign right next to the dugout and other days, they’ll sign closer to the ‘pen. Detroit’s dugout on the third base side is typically busier, but if a high-profile opponent like the Yankees or Red Sox is in town, the crowds will often be thicker on the visitors’ side.

If you miss getting your favorite player’s autograph, don’t despair. Comerica Park’s team shops boast some of the best selections of autographs that you’ll find in baseball.

I didn’t bother trying for any autographs during my first Comerica Park game, but in the second visit, I found a spot beside the Tigers dugout and was able to grab four signatures on a ball, including manager Jim Leyland and pitchers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer.