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Willie Horton at PAL groundbreaking ceremonies in Detroit

By: Tom Markowski, April 13, 2016, 7:53 pm

Detroit – Willie Horton made his name playing on the baseball fields in Detroit and later as a member of the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium.

Horton’s name will forever be linked with another ball field at the site of what was once Tiger Stadium.

The Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL), in conjunction with the city of Detroit and Mayor Mike Duggan, held groundbreaking ceremonies on Wednesday kicking off the proposed construction of an athletic complex at the corner of famed Michigan and Trumbull (SP), the site of Tiger Stadium.

In honor of Horton, a Detroit Northwestern graduate, a former PAL director and the leftfielder for the 1968 World Series Championship team, the complex will be named the Willie Horton Field of Dreams.

Horton, 73, played in Detroit from 1963 to 1977. He ended his career with the Seattle Mariners in 1980. A four-time All-Star, Horton had 325 career home runs, 1,163 RBI and a .273 batting average.

Horton, visually humbled by the honor, spoke to the hundreds gathered about the city, his family and how PAL has continued to have a positive influence on the lives of the city’s youth.

PAL is a nonprofit organization that started in 1969 to help area youth through athletic, academic and leadership programs.

“I’m proud of this special program,” he said. “I’m all about family. I made a promise to my dad to make a commitment to the fans.

“I’m so grateful for PAL. When I was coming down Trumbull to get here, I thought of all the years. (I was) raised in the projects. All of the memories.

“PAL is something that’s not only Detroit. PAL set the example.

“Look at Detroit. Look at the buildings. It’s coming back. This is a great honor. People in this great state; this city. That’s what Willie Horton is about.”

Along with a new athletic complex that will include baseball, soccer and softball fields, a new PAL headquarters is scheduled to be built.

Approximately $13 million has been raised to finance the project.

In addition to Duggan, other guest speakers included Senator Carl Levin, Police Chief James E. Craig, PAL CEO Tim Richey and Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy Chairman Thom Linn.

Richey said the artificial turf fields “will be ready within a year” and will be available for youths ages 9-14.

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