|Detroit Free Press (MI)
July 21, 2004
TIGERS DRAW 322 FOUR-LEGGED FANS TO 2ND BARK IN THE PARK
Author: JOHN ELIGON FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
Former Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox was sitting behind the
leftfield stands at Comerica Park before Tuesday night’s
game when three young ladies rushed him.
But they weren’t interested in Wilcox. They wanted to
check out his black Labrador, Sparky.
“He’s a chick magnet, no doubt,” Wilcox said of the dog
he named Sparky Anderson Wilcox.
Sparky had plenty of competition, though. At the sight
of other dogs, the young ladies quickly dispersed.
Wilcox and Sparky were at the game for the second annual
Bark in the Park night, in which fans were invited to
bring their dogs and sit in the Pooch Pavilion in
leftfield. Vendors sold bags of dog food at discounted
prices, and organizers auctioned off baseballs signed by
Tigers players. Wilcox also posed for pictures with dogs
and their owners for $5, with proceeds benefiting the
Michigan Animal Adoption Network.
Wilcox’s dog is especially famous — he competes in dock
jumping and is one of the best in the country with a
personal-best leap of 22 feet, 7 inches.
The Tigers reported the official dog attendance at 322
for the game against the Minnesota Twins. The dogs
ranged in size from 140-pound Great Danes to petite toy
poodles. Despite the differences, the dogs seemed to
interact playfully with one another — though an
occasional howl was heard.
Ellen Hechler, 50, sat in a wheelchair holding her pair
of fluffy, white toy poodles on a leash as they reached
for a much bigger rottweiler/German shepherd crossbreed.
Her dogs looked as if they were in attack mode, but it
was all in good fun. Hechler, a Farmington Hills
resident and avid baseball fan, was all smiles.
“We came last year, and we couldn’t wait to come again
this year,” said Hechler, who named her poodles Happy
and Go Lucky. “I love doing anything I can with my
Hechler had two of the smallest dogs in the park, and
Kathy Kenney certainly had two of the biggest. She
brought her brown, droopy-faced Great Dane and her
“I love the big dogs,” said Kenney, from White Lake.
“The bigger, the better.”
From hats to bibs to jerseys, many of the dogs sported
Don and Norine Audette of Sterling Heights brought their
tiny Italian greyhound clad in an orange Tigers bib and
with a stuffed tiger mounted to a hat on its head. The
couple said they’re avid Tigers fans, and their dog is,
too — even though they’ve never asked for her opinion.
“If she’s in the family, she’s a Tigers fan,” said Don,
Although the Tigers don’t always allow dogs in the
gates, Norine said, it’s something they should do more
“Ballgames are family games,” she said. “And dogs are
part of the family.”