Detroit Tigers join Ali creating a diamond

Published 11:28 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It was not a hard decision for the Detroit Tigers to make.
Help Muhammad and Lonnie Ali turn a run-down practice field into possibly the best high school baseball diamond in Michigan.
Healy was speaking Saturday morning at Niles High School as a representative of Illitch Charities for Children, which donated $55,000 to the new baseball field. The money from ICC was generated from Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game at Comerica Park last summer.
Seated directly behind Healy were the other two individuals largely responsible for the cause.
Healy said Muhammad and Lonnie Ali contacted the Tigers following the 2004 All-Star Game in Houston, where Muhammad and his son Asaad threw the ceremonial first pitch and were then surrounded by all the MLB players for a photo.
One year later, the game was being held in the Motor City. Part of the deal of hosting the All-Star game was pledging one-third of the gate receipts from the weekend events, including the Home Run Derby, to charity organizations like ICC, Healy said.
Both the Alis and Tigers have been active in their communities. Healy said the Tigers organization and ICC have already donated equipment and facilities for other teams and children, and, Muhammad and Lonnie were responsible for Champs Field, between Howard Ellis elementaries in Niles, a few years back.
The most recent project was a combined effort among several entities, which was also a large reason ICC was involved, Healy said.
Lonnie thanked not only local supporter Tom Watson and Box Entertainment, but also the coaches that lead the players, including her son, in life and on the field.
Some of Lonnie's final remarks were directed to the ball players just before they took to the newly renovated field.
The dedication of the field was made official a few hours later when the Vikings recorded a 3-2 victory over Coloma.