On the first night of Detroit Tigers baseball with absolutely no crowd size restrictions, a small crowd took in the game, just excited to be there.
Terrance Nathan, 46, of Southfield has been waiting over a year to go to a Tigers game. "It just makes me appreciate everything more. The crowd, the people and the little things. The pandemic was a wake-up call," he said.
Nathan said that his favorite thing about going to the games is meeting new people and celebrating exciting game moments with them. "I am usually a germaphobe but, I mean, it's the moment. When the moment arrives ... I will probably give somebody a big hug, might even kiss them on the cheek!"
Once the state allowed fans back in stadiums like Comerica Park, it still prohibited buying a single ticket to encourage fans to buy tickets in groups. This allowed for more comfort because people knew who they were sitting next to.
There were also zip ties between seats to encourage social distancing. Fans were seen doing socially-distanced high-fives during high points in the game. Now that restrictions are lifted, fans are able to socialize more
"I know I'm fully vaccinated so I have a lot of ease wherever I go but it still feels good to know ... it's not as crowded as it used to be," said Daja Cutting, 28, of Detroit. Cutting hasn't been to a game in four years and said she prefers a less packed stadium.
Jason Trojan, 36, of Livonia said, "I've been waiting to go to a game for forever and it's nice to see everybody out and wandering around and see the ballpark kind of filling up again...I think it's time that people get out and start living their lives and I think that it's been enough time.
The prospect of larger crowds agreed with Tigers manager AJ Hinch too. "Our players love playing in front of our home fans," he said. "We always have. Obviously, it's been a little limited so far with weather and the protocols. But anytime you get a chance to play in front of your home crowd and as it can grow and get bigger, the environment is better."
Fans were also excited to see slugger Miguel Cabrera play. In the opening inning, Cabrera hit a single, followed by an Eric Haase home run. The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-3.
"It's almost the same level of excitement, just less people, and when we get this place crowded again, it's going to be wild," said Cody Swarts, 32, of Port Huron.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tiger fans excited to flock Comerica Park with no restrictions