This is a nice story worthy of a blog called Britton Nonfiction. It’s not often that our town comes up in the news.
On our way to Tuesday night’s Detroit Tigers game against the A’s at Comerica Park, we got a call from Kristie’s dad telling us that 25 year old Britton native Duane Below would be making his MLB debut with the club on Wednesday night as the starting pitcher. Although I’ve never met Below, our town is very small and I’ve certainly heard about him over the past few years. There is an article about his being drafted into the Tigers farm system posted on the wall of Britton’s lone restaurant The Whistle Stop which I’ve read a few times over drinks and dinner. I’m a die hard Tiger fan and while I do follow the minor league system to a degree, I hadn’t realized that Below was playing AAA ball and putting up some nice numbers for Toledo this year. Suddenly, with the Tigers decision to rest Justin Verlander for an extra game a hole in the rotation opened up and they decided to take a chance with our local rookie.
I’m sure that every television in Britton will be tuned in to the game and The Whistle Stop will be doing a brisk gametime business on Wednesday. I’ll be working at the Ann Arbor Skate Park booth at the Art Fair until 7pm, but you can bet I’ll be watching Below’s debut immediately afterward. It’s rare these days for a native ballplayer to work his way up the MLB farm system of his own local big league team and it’s an especially unique treat for the 700 or so residents of our little town to witness a true Cinderella sports story like this one.
Best of luck to Duane Below as he toes the slab in Detroit’s fabled ballpark for the first time. I can’t imagine what an honor that would be. It takes so much dedication and many sacrifices to get to the big leagues and a lot of promising players never even get a cup of coffee in the Bigs. Well done, Duane.