Alpena High School has unforgettable day at Comerica Park

News Photo by Leslianne Johns Kaleb Donjakowksi swings at the plate at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, on Friday. The Alpena High School baseball team had the opportunity of a lifetime to play at the major league baseball arena.

DETROIT — The atmosphere at Comerica Park was electric with enthusiastic supporters of the Alpena High School varsity baseball team on Friday.

On a day that many will remember for years to come, the players and their families experienced the thrill of a lifetime: playing in a major league stadium.

Despite losing 7-1 to Chippewa Valley High School, the team and their fans were still grateful for the experience.

Among the crowd, the excitement was mirrored in the faces of parents who had long supported their children’s baseball dreams.

Jodi Weir, mother of Lucas Weir, captured the sentiment perfectly.

“I thought it was an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I think at one point in time every kid playing baseball dreams of playing in the major league, and these boys got to experience that. I think it’s something they are never going to forget and will talk about for years to come. Special thanks to coach (Eric) Mackenzie for making this possible. I hope they all realize that nothing is impossible. Reach for your dreams because you just never know what opportunities you may get.”

The day at Comerica was a testament to the dedication of Mackenzie, who meticulously planned every detail to ensure the team could enjoy this extraordinary opportunity.

“The players were excited when I told them about this,” Mackenzie said. “I purposely didn’t tell them about what was taking place until all the details were worked out. I think they thought I was joking about this.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time AHS baseball has played at Comerica Park. I am looking at keeping this a tradition and trying to get back there every two years,” he said.

The logistical challenges of organizing such an event were significant, but Mackenzie’s commitment to his team was unwavering.

“Our schedule, getting approval from the school, and organizing hotel stays were just a few of the hurdles,” he said. “Communicating with the Tigers about procedures, rules, and weather also required careful coordination. The most important thing was to ensure that this day was for the kids and to make sure everybody played multiple innings and had fun.”

For the parents in the stands, the experience was nothing short of surreal. Melissa Jarema, mother of Grant Jarema, expressed her awe.

“It felt surreal to watch the team play at Comerica,” Jarema said. “We have been watching these boys grow up together and play ball since they were little. They have played all over the state, but nothing compares to Comerica. I was so excited for them to have this experience.”

Jamie Cohoon, mother of Hunter Cohoon, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the long-lasting impact of the day.

“I felt it was an amazing experience for the varsity boys to have the opportunity to play on a field where the players they have idolized for so many years play regularly,” Cohoon said. “For most, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something memorable to share with others later in the years. For coach Mackenzie to work out such an agreement with the Tigers shows how important this team is to him and that he will do everything possible for them to succeed all the while having fun.”

As the game unfolded, the Wildcats showcased their talents and reveled in the moment, knowing they were standing where some of their heroes had stood. The day’s events at Comerica Park not only provided a unique platform for all players to shine but also reinforced the importance of community and the pursuit of dreams.

The future looks bright for AHS baseball, with coach Mackenzie hoping to make this a biennial tradition. If this year’s experience is any indication, the next generation of AHS players has much to look forward to.


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