The Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings have long been proud to participate in luncheons with the Detroit Economic Club (DEC), furthering the long-standing dedication by the Ilitch companies to provide a platform for discussion of important business, government and social issues. These events have brought together thousands of fans, students and corporate partners over the years and have served as an opportunity to recognize the impact that sports can have on bringing a community together.
As the Tigers joined the DEC at MotorCity Casino Hotel to celebrate their first in-person annual luncheon since 2020, students from all over the state were excited to see nearly the entire Tigers team along with manager A.J. Hinch, executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager, Al Avila, and Tigers announcers Dan Dickerson, Matt Shepard, Jack Morris and others.
Chris McGowan, president & CEO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, served as the presiding officer of the event. “Connecting with some of our city’s most successful businesspeople and ambitious students is important as we continue to use our sports and entertainment platforms to amaze, inspire and unite,” said McGowan.
The event began with a private student-only reception with local high school and college students, who got the opportunity to interact with Tigers team leadership and hear about various career paths in sports.
Hailing from Carlson High School, Loyola High School and Albion College, students then joined DEC members and guests to submit questions to players to gain further insight into their careers; many players and executives took the opportunity to reminisce on past experiences, instill wise words and discuss their hopes for the team’s future.
As only the third player in MLB history to have 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles, Miguel Cabrera received a standing ovation from the entire audience during the event. Receiving a question about achieving his milestones in the city of Detroit, Cabrera, visibly humbled, simply answered the question with one word: “Crazy.” Following it up, saying, “Now, my number one focus is winning.”
While many of the Tigers agreed that the ultimate goal is to get more wins, Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario emphasized the journey to the win being just as important as the win itself, especially as a switch hitter. “You’ve got to love the work,” said Candelario. “If you put in the work and the effort and be consistent…it’s going to pay off.” An adage that resonated with the entire business community as well and will help inspire a future generation of leaders.
Beyond getting numbers on the diamond, some players have explored opportunities beyond playing the sport. Pitchers Joe Jiménez and Gregory Soto started a podcast, “Tigres VIP,” paying homage to both of their roots and Detroit’s Latin community. “We wanted to have fun with it. And we wanted Tigers fans to know a little bit more about the Latin players and culture,” said Jiménez, who is Puerto Rican.
For more on the DEC and to find various ways to become a member and get involved in future events, please visit www.econclub.org.