Frank Navin was the most famous Adrian native involved in professional baseball in his day. Born in Adrian in 1871, Navin went to Detroit in 1889, where he worked as a bookkeeper. He eventually became the right-hand man to Sanuel F. Angus, the first owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball club (1901-1903). By 1903, Angus wanted out of the Tigers organization. At Navin's urging, a 28-year-old wealthy lumber heir named Bill Yawkey agreed to purchase the club, as long as Navin would represent his interests. Navin's signings of Ty Cobb and Hughie Jennings were instrumental in the development of the Tigers' American League championship teams of 1907-1909.
By 1908, Navin bought Yawkey's majority of the club, giving himself principle ownership of the Detroit Tigers. In 1912, Navin built a new ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, called Navin Field (later renamed Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium). Frank Navin would own the Detroit Tigers until his death in November of 1935 — six weeks after the Tigers won their first World Series championship.
The most famous baseball game played in Adrian occurred on October 11, 1923, at Franklin Park. The day after they finished their regular season, the Detroit Tigers came to Adrian to play a game against a local team, the Adrian Independents. A large reason
Frank Navin was considered one of the most influential men in baseball during his era. He was the principal owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1908-1935, and also served as vice president and acting president of the American League. Known as "Old Poker Face," Navin held his emotions and his checkbook very close to the vest. Navin developed a reputation as a penny-pincher, which was not surprising given he was trained as an accountant.for this exhibition game was due to the Tigers' longtime owner, Frank Navin, being an Adrian native. In anticipation of the game, Adrian mayor, Herbert Clark, suggested that the town's factories be closed early that day so anyone who wanted to attend the game would be able to do so. The Tigers expectedly won 17-3. After the game, a grand dinner was held at the old Lenawee Hotel (northeast corner of Maumee and Winter) for the Tigers and their fans. Everyone had so much fun that another game was scheduled for 1924. In that game the Tigers played a different team, the Adrian All-Stars. Led by the legendary Ty Cobb, the Tigers won 17-2.
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