Hamtramck Stadium

Historic Hamtramck Stadium is one of only five Negro League home ballparks still in existence. The grandstand and field are in Veterans Memorial Park on the south side of Hamtramck. The Stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. In 2014, a State of Michigan Historic Marker was dedicated at the site. On January 12, 2017, Hamtramck Stadium was the recipient of a National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant for pre-development planning.

Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium Board of Directors

Gary Gillette (founder and president)
Author, editor, consultant, and historian Gary Gillette has written, edited, or contributed to dozens of baseball books and websites, including ESPN.com, Baseball Prospectus, and TotalBaseball.com. He was the creator and editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, executive editor of the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia, a contributor to six editions of the seminal encyclopedia Total Baseball, and is currently a historical consultant to Baseball-Reference.com.

Gillette was the lead author on the massive 2009 book Big League Ballparks: The Complete Illustrated History of Major-League Baseball Parks. As a director and officer of the Tiger Stadium Conservancy, Gillette fought for years to save the historic stadium and the hallowed field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. As founder and president of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, he led the successful effort to place one of the few remaining Negro League home ballparks on the National Register of Historic Places and is now leading the effort to restore the historic site. A former director of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Gillette is the founder and president of SABR’s Detroit Chapter, as well as past co-chair of SABR’s Business of Baseball Committee and SABR’s Ballparks Committees.

 

Michael Wilson

For more than three decades, Coach Mike Wilson has trained and mentored thousands of youth in the great game of baseball.

Wilson was born in Hamtramck and graduated from Detroit Mackenzie High in 1974, excelling in both football and baseball. In 1976, he was selected in the winter professional baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers and spent several years playing minor league ball in the Tigers and Seattle Mariners systems.

In 1980, Wilson launched his youth baseball coaching career in California, where he worked under the tutelage of former Negro Leaguers Chet Brewer and John Moseley and helped train future major leaguer Chili Davis.

In 1997, Coach Wilson moved home to Detroit and became an assistant coach at DePorres High for two years under Coach Mark Brown. In 2003, Coach Wilson became head coach at his alma mater, Mackenzie High, where he coached for three years.

In 2008, Coach Wilson joined the Detroit Eagles, a 15 and Under travel team that won the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) world championship in 2008.

In 2003 Mike and his wife, Margaret, developed a nonprofit youth development organization called Abundant Care Training Services (ACTS Detroit). In 2007 they partnered with DPS and began operating the Woodbridge Community Youth Center in a former Detroit Public School building. In 2010 Coach Wilson co-founded and developed the Woodbridge Baseball Academy designed to revive baseball in the urban community.

The WBA produced three travel teams (Woodbridge Eagles) each year to provide advanced competition for player development and elite competition. The Woodbridge Eagles won five travel tournaments and three runner-up finishes in three years. And in 2016, the Eagles 12 and Under team won the Hometown World Series sponsored by the Detroit Tigers.

Coach Wilson is also an ordained minister and has amassed over 25 years of business management experience in both the public and private sectors.

 

Ian Perrotta
Ian Perrotta is a Hamtramck City Councilman, the owner of Trixie’s Bar, and a student at Wayne State Law School. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg with degrees in English Writing and Political Science, Ian has been an active member of the Hamtramck community since 2009, and previously served as chair of the Neighborhood Restoration and Economic Development Committee for the Hamtramck Weed and Seed program.

In addition to being a reporter and copy editor for the Hamtramck Review, Ian is also a co-founder of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium.

 

Tom Niczay
Since 2007, Tom has served as the superintendent of Hamtramck Public Schools. A graduate of Wayne State University, Tom previously served Hamtramck Public Schools as principal of Holbrook School (1988-1995) and Dickinson East (1995-2007).

 

Thomas A. Habitz Jr.
Hamtramck resident Thomas Habitz is a practicing urban planner and active local volunteer. Tom serves on Hamtramck’s planning and zoning boards, and has coached for years in Hamtramck’s youth baseball leagues. He’s also a longtime baseball and basketball official. These activities speak to Tom’s passion for sustainable and walkable communities, and the revitalization of spaces that are important to the Detroit region. He’s excited for the re-opening of Hamtramck Stadium to promote the past and future of baseball in our community.

 

Aaron Smith
Aaron’s roots are here in Hamtramck, where his mother and grandmother were born and raised. His great-grandparents John A. Gregory and Tenneye Gregory moved from Nashville to Hamtramck in 1917 and built the home at 5154 Yemans, where his 96-year-old grandmother lived until recently.

Today, Aaron serves as executive director of the Motor City Grounds Crew, a 501(c)(3) organization he founded in 2012. The mission of the grounds crew is to improve the appearance of the city’s neighborhoods for residents and visitors who live, work, and play in Detroit. Aaron’s commitment has helped to stabilize and beautify these communities by mowing, manicuring, and
maintaining vacant City of Detroit properties and adopted parks.

 

Debra Walker
A longtime purchasing executive with Chrysler, Debra spent years working in Mexico and Germany [while Daimler Chrysler] training employees on cost-reduction initiatives. Led the team that saved Chrysler millions of dollars, passed on to employees as largest profit sharing. Also worked in Lean Production and Minority Supplier Development, helping to create jobs while growing companies. Initiated Chrysler community outreach programs.

Debra also serves on the boards of the Michigan Cancer Foundation / Karmanos Peoples Community Services, Alternatives for Girls, and the Corktown Economic Development Corporation.

 

Ray Skrzyniarz

Born in Hamtramck, the grandson of Polish immigrants, Ray Skrzyniarz graduated from St. Ladislaus and was an all-star catcher in Little League, Pony League, Colt League, and American Legion, playing many of his home games at Hamtramck Stadium alongside many future major leaguers, including the Paciorek brothers. Ray also played at Tiger Stadium and even played in the Colt League World Series.

A graduate of Western Michigan University, Ray taught at Marysville High School for 40 years.

Ray is married to the former Virginia Irvin, co-founder of the Piast Institute, a national institute for Polish and Polish American affairs.

The stadium we are seeking to save is more than just an artifact of Black history or a reminder some of the most memorable parts of Hamtramck’s history, Ray says. It’s an icon of America’s story.

 

Layna Fernandez
The daughter of former Detroit Tiger Chico Fernandez, Layna Fernandez is a graduate of Detroit Public Schools and Wayne County Community College who has spent a remarkable teaching career at the National Institute of Technology-Everest Institute and Baker College.

In her spare time, Layna is active in the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Girls on the Run, and the American Heart Association. Layna is proud to join the board of the Friends and even prouder to help carry on her father’s legacy.

 

Paul Wilk
Paul Wilk is the former fire chief and fire marshal of the City of Hamtramck, and past president of the Hamtramck Firefighters Association.