Baseball is a beautiful game. Certain moments are so memorable that they’re tied to a particular player forever. When you look at the Baseball Reference page of Robert Fick, you won’t see anything too noteworthy. You also won’t see what he did during the last game at Tiger Stadium. It’s something that’s endeared him to the city of Detroit for the rest of his life.
Fick’s big-league career may have been a little ho-hum compared to others during the same era. That doesn’t mean it’s still not a resume literally millions of people would love to experience. The left-handed hitter spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with five different teams. The majority of his career came with the Tigers (his first five years).
He earned an All-Star selection in 2002 with Detroit. That was the only individual accolade you’ll see on his stat page. Across 2,658 plate appearances, Fick slashed .258/.328/.405 with 69 home runs (nice), 324 RBI, and 287 runs scored. If extrapolated over a 162-game schedule, Fick averaged a .732 OPS with 13 homers and 62 RBI.
He was part of a small group of Tigers players who played at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park. Tiger Stadium officially opened in 1912 before closing its doors in 1999 (although it stood vacant until it was demolished in 2008).
The final game took place on September 27, 1999. Detroit finished this season with a 69-92 record, so the club was out of contention for a while by the time this date rolled around. There was nothing on the line — just a focus on finishing the Stadium’s tenure with a victory.
Detroit hosted the Kansas City Royals, another 60-win and 90-loss at the time of their meeting. The Tigers entered the bottom of the eighth with a 4-2 lead. Dean Palmer led off the frame with a double. Damion Easley followed with a single before Karim Garcia was intentionally walked to load the bases. Gabe Kapler grounded into a fielder’s choice that kept the bases loaded. Up came Fick, who was hitless with a walk and sacrifice fly to that point.
But on the first pitch he saw from Jeff Montgomery, this happened:
9/27/1999: The last homer at the old Tiger Stadium was this grand slam from Robert Fick, and the booth absolutely LOVED IT. #Tigers #DetroitRoots (via MLB) @TigersHistory @blessyouboys pic.twitter.com/jGVYDt882A
— MLB Daily Dingers (@MLBDailyDingers) April 20, 2021
When Al Kaline says you’re going to hit a home run, you have to do it. As the booth pointed out, Fick also had Norm Cash‘s number on his back. Those men are two of the franchise’s all-time home run leaders, so there was definitely good ju-ju here. Getting it to the roof and falling back into the field was just icing on the cake.
The 1999 season was just the second of Fick’s career. It was also his second cup of coffee. After appearing in seven games the year prior, he appeared in 15 as a 25-year-old. He collected three homers and 10 RBI in 49 plate appearances. One of those homers and half of his season-long RBI total came on this memorable night.
Montgomery ended up retiring the next two batters to exit the inning. That was followed by a 1-2-3 ninth from Detroit’s Todd Jones. So, not only was this blast from Fick the last homer ever at Tiger Stadium, but it was also the last hit ever. That’s pretty special.
As we heard in the above clip, the Tigers had viewed Fick as part of their future. Things didn’t work out how Detroit hoped. But still, this is the kind of moment that will live on in franchise history for a long, long time.
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