Fenway brings back memories for Ausmus

Tigers skipper attended first game in Boston at age 7

Fenway brings back memories for Ausmus

BOSTON -- Many will never forget being at their first Major League ballgame, including Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. The program, the character of the stadium and his favorite player are just a few quirks he remembers about attending his very first game as a 7-year-old -- the Red Sox vs. the Brewers at Fenway Park.

Ausmus' mother grew up in Brookline, a neighborhood around the block from Fenway. She attended Brookline High School, and Ausmus fondly remembers visiting his grandparents and going to Red Sox games with his family as a youngster.

"I think '76 was the first year I came to Fenway," Ausmus said. "I know Fred Lynn was on the cover of the program with all the accolades from previous years, the 10-RBI game against Detroit. They had little stars on Fred Lynn's picture."

Ausmus, a Connecticut native,  remembers Hall of Famer Hank Aaron was on the roster for Milwaukee but was looking forward to watching one of his favorite players take the field for Boston.

"Jim Rice was my favorite player growing up." Ausmus said. "And then I got drafted and I became my favorite player."

Ausmus was selected by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 Draft, merely 11 years after attending his first ballgame. In 1993, he made his Major League debut as San Diego's catcher, going 1-for-3 against the Cubs.

The skipper said he loves coming to Fenway Park for the character and history that the stadium, built in 1912, still holds. He enjoys the little things, like interacting with fans near the on-deck circle, sharing in a certain intimacy at the park.

"I like the ballparks with history. There's not many left now. Even Tiger Stadium, I liked it because of the history. Don't get me wrong, they needed a new stadium. But it was fun. It was always neat for me to play where Ty Cobb played. I always liked that," Ausmus said.

Ausmus also is impressed by a current Major League great in David Ortiz. The manager had a hard time believing the Red Sox slugger can still swing the bat like he does at age 40, in his swan-song year, no less.

"He might want to rethink that retirement thing," Ausmus said. "I know this, I wasn't hitting like that when I was 40. Of course I wasn't hitting like that when I was 25 either."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.