By Raymond Rolak
DETROIT– It was the 46th annual Polish-American Night at Comerica Park and Chris Ozog emceed the proceedings. About 30,000 were in attendance for the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays. New this year was the Wayne State University Polish Club and Friends of Polish Art. They joined the 380 dancers on the field along with the Polish Scouts, who handled the Honor Guard.
Before the game, Ozog talked with Jim Price of the Tigers Radio Network. Ozog said, “The National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame will have a display on the concourse near the right field foul pole. The NPASHF will be having their induction banquet June 23, 2016 at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan. One of this year’s honored inductees will be Ann Meyers-Drysdale. She is the widow of Dodger great Don Drysdale, who died in July of 1993. He was elected to the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 1984.”
Price asked about updates of the fields that Stan Musial developed at Kutno, Poland for Little League Baseball and about Tom Paciorek’s new children’s book, “THE MAGIC BAT”. The Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation will benefit from the proceeds. Ozog listed the music entertainers for the radio audience. They included the Big Daddy Orchestra, the Kielbasa Kings, the Steve Drzewicki Band, the Natural Tones and accordion stylings presented by John Orischak.
Longtime Polish heritage supporter Ray Okonski threw out the ceremonial first pitch. “This is quite an honor. I’ll get it to the plate but it may be underhand.”
Dick Enberg, the Hall of Fame broadcaster, commented how tasty the angel wings (chrusciki) were in the press box before the game. The commissary had five boxes that were bakery fresh for the out-of-town press corps to taste.
The fraternal sponsors, the Polish National Alliance, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and the Polish Women’s Alliance of America awarded scholarships to Ashley Fruehauf, Hanna Grove, Kristen Karwan, Danielle Krass and Kaitlynn LaDuke. Miss Paulina Kowalczyk, Miss Polonia World-2016 took ‘selfies’ with interested girls on the concourse. She is a recent graduate of Wayne State.
Ted Klamerus, marketing manager for the PRCUA, was at the first Polish-American Night at Tiger Stadium 45 years ago. “The Reverend Ted Blaszczyk was a driving force to make this happen,” he said.
The fifty-fifty raffle put on by Ilitch Charities at Comerica Park took in $20,533 and a portion was donated to the NPASHF. Despite two massive homeruns by Miguel Cabrera the Rays topped the Tigers 7-5.