Features Last Updated: Apr 7th, 2009 - 10:29:48

Detroit: City Of Champions
By Robert Del Valle
Apr 7, 2009, 10:26

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Detroit: City Of Champions
The Trinity Of Detroit Sports' Historic Season

When Detroit was the king: author Charles Avison salutes 1935, the Motor City’s incomparable year of glory.

Detroit in 1935 looked remarkably similar to what Detroit looks like now. The economy was tanked, no one was buying new cars, the companies and the nascent labor unions were both grumbling loudly, a corrupt mayor had been ousted just a few years before, crime was a big problem and the nation was looking to a new president for a glimmer of hope.

But Detroit was then, what it is today and always will be — a town that loves sports and definitely prefers winners to whiners. And in the year 1935 something extraordinary happened the likes of which had never been seen before — a single city grabbed all the marbles. The Tigers brought home both a pennant and a World Series victory; the Red Wings were well on their way to a Stanley Cup; the Lions won the top prize on their side of the street; and a magnificent fighter named Joe Louis was becoming a legend.

Charles Avison has taken these 365 days from yesterday and fashioned a fantastic book entitled Detroit: City of Champions. Originally a college thesis, it is a lovingly researched hymn of praise to some of the greatest players in history, with an especially strong emphasis on the Tigers in their glorious hour of victory. We put a few questions to the author and he graciously responded. This Opening Day pre-game with a trip to                the book store.

How long did it take you to research and write City of Champions?
Three months for the original college thesis, one year, almost to the day, for the research, writing, picture gathering and printing.

In a nutshell  - what magical spark happened in Detroit in 1935?
What they tapped into was the spirit that still makes Detroit sports unique to this day. The unconditional love of our teams. All we ask is that the players give their all on the field, win or lose. It's not "you go out and win or we’ll boo you" — instead it's — "come on kid we’re all with you."

Do we instinctively turn to sports and sports heroes when the going is tough?
Sports inspire a sense of community. They have a way bringing people together who may be different — culturally, ethnically and socially. Especially in times of hardship, people tend to embrace their humanity and the spirit of “we’re all in this together.”

How do the legends of yesterday compare to the people we have today? Some contend that there was more character, integrity  — more guts plain and simple! Do you agree?
I disagree. I truly love history, but what I love, is to see how people react to hard situations or decisions that are presented to them. We are capable of the same toughness, character and integrity as any of our ancestors, plus we have the advantage of learning from their examples. The difference is that their story has already been written.  | RDW