The Detroit Tigers are a professional baseball team resided in Detroit, Michigan. The club competes in the American League Central Division of MLB. The Detroit Tigers are the oldest member of the American League, as their history can be traced back to 1894.
The franchise is the longest-standing club in MLB that never changed its name or hometown. All relocations were limited to one city. At the beginning of its career, the team was based at Boulevard Park, but later it moved to Bennett Park, a ballpark constructed by the club owner George Vanderbeck in 1895.
The second relocation was expected to happen in 1992 after Mike Ilitch had acquired the club from local pizzeria tycoon Tom Monaghan. Yet the Tigers moved into the newly built Comerica Park only a few years later in 2000.
The franchise got its name somehow naturally. The local press was the first to call the Detroit Tigers team during their opening game at Bennett Park on April 13, 1896. But there are other versions of the name’s origin. One legend concerns a sports observer comparing the 1901 team’s victory with his alma mater club’s ferocity, the Princeton Tigers. According to another, the baseball team was named to pay tribute to the 425th National Guard infantry regiment, which fought in the Civil War and Spanish-American War and known as “The Tigers.”
The Detroit Tigers logo with the Old English “D” is one of the most iconic logos in baseball history. Despite that, the letter looked a bit different in the beginning, yet it stood for the city of Detroit. For over a century, the team has had eighteen changes in its logo, including twelve diverse letters “D.”
The present-day logo features a modified navy blue Old English “D” with horizontal accents taking the second vertical line. It looks modernistic and visually resembles the fangs of a tiger with a wide-opened mouth.
Though the franchise always stays in Detroit, it had plenty of owners, 13 to be precise. Its first owner was George Vanderbeck, who founded the club and ran it until 1900. Then the team was owned by D. Burns (1901-1902), Samuel Angus (1902-1903), Bill Yawkey (1903-1908), Bill Yawkey, and Frank Navin (1908-1919), Frank Navin as the sole owner (1919-1935).
After Frank Navin’s death, the team was controlled by Walter Briggs Sr. and Walter Briggs Jr. (1935-1952 and 1952-1956, respectively), Fred Knorr and John Fetzer (1956-1961), John Fetzer as the sole owner (1961-1983). In late 1983, the franchise was sold to Tom Monaghan for $53 million. In 1992, the Detroit Tigers were purchased by Mike Ilitch, who owned the club until 2017. Since 2018 the club belongs to Ilitch family trust.
Meaning and History
Twenty-three logos – that is how many have accumulated over the long history of the Detroit Tigers. The change was usually the management’s desire to improve the visual identification mark because the team never changed the name. Essentially, the development of an emblem is an evolution of complex shapes. The periods constantly alternated: there were seasons with a predominance of graphic images, after which there were text logos. And among them, only six with tigers, the rest – with the letter “D” in various designs.
1901 – 1902
At the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of sports logos contained the name of the team or the capital letter; however, the Tigers’ inaugural logo featured a red tiger drawing.
The Tigers utilized a black block-lettered “D” as their logo, which stood for Detroit’s city.
The logo was changed to an Old English version of the letter “D” in dark brown.
1905 – 1907
Maintaining the same font from the previous logo, the new one brought changes only in color; since this time, Tigers used navy blue.
1908 – 1913
The Detroit Tigers logo still featured the Old English letter “D,” but the new font made it look more voluminous.
1914 – 1915
The Tigers continued experimenting with the letter “D,” now the navy blue letter was wider than ever.
The team reverted to the classic navy blue block-lettered “D” for the 1916 season.
Another logo with the Old English letter “D,” the blue color remained constant.
1918 – 1920
The franchise introduced a new logo with “D” scripted in Bruce Double Pica font.
1921 – 1924
The Tigers switched back to the Old English “D” in 1921. This time it was thinner than in previous years.
Slight alterations took place in 1925, but the color remained navy blue.
The club opted for yet another version of the Old English letter “D” in blue, but the 1926 logo looked more voluminous.
1927 – 1928
In 1927, the team did away with the letter “D” in their logo for the first time. The new logo featured an orange tiger head with white eyes, black whiskers, and jagged white teeth.
The team decided to return to the Old English “D” they had used from 1921 to 1926. This time the blue letter was trimmed with an orange outline.
The Tigers ditched the orange outline around the classic Old English “D.”
1931 – 1933
The blue block-lettered “D” made a comeback. The franchise stuck with this logo for two years.
1934 – 1956
In 1934, the team decided to go back to the blue Old English letter “D.” The given logo lasted for twenty-two years until it was completely changed in 1957.
1957 – 1960
The team got rid of the Old English letter “D” in favor of the tiger head. The logo included an orange front-facing tiger head with its mouth wide open. The head was more detailed this time. Whiskers, eyes, mouth, and fur were depicted in black and white.
1961 – 1963
The next logo was based on the previous one, yet the tiger head was shrunk and put inside a thick black ring that contained the team’s home city “Detroit” and the name “Tigers” on the top and bottom, respectively. Both wordmarks were written in white.
1964 – 1993
In 1964, the Detroit Tigers unveiled a new logo. They did away with black and introduced blue to the logo. Besides, they changed the tiger head to tilt to the right. The head was placed inside a thick blue ring with the same wordmark as the previous design.
1994 – 2005
In 1994, the designers decided to combine the tiger and the Old English letter “D.” The Detroit Tigers logo featured the aggressive tiger full instead of the usual head coming out of the letter “D.”
2006 – 2015
In 2006, the franchise got rid of the tiger, and the classic Old English “D” made its return.
2016 – present
The modern version of the logo is a repetition of one of the past. In particular, its prototype was introduced in 1904, and since then, it has become predominant. The Old English Latin alphabet was taken as a basis – this is how old signs were ornately designed. They were not printed, but drawn by hand in calligraphic handwriting, like Japanese characters.
The combination of curved, straight, arcuate segments fits perfectly into the club concept. First, they convey their name and location. Secondly, they represent the sharp fangs of the tiger. This similarity is beneficial and makes the logo recognizable.
The opening variation is associated with the tiger. He is depicted walking calmly and without contours – only the general figure of a reddish color. The second version represents the English “D.” She was approved the next season. The third character is the corresponding letter of the Latin alphabet. It is these three forms that have been further developed.
Moreover, there are both single images and combined ones in the history of the club: for example, logos from 1961 to 2005. During that period, the developers created emblems in the form of seals, where the predatory animal was the central element, and the words were secondary.
Most of the changes went through the English letter “D” in the Latin spelling. Designers have repeatedly lengthened the lower part, doubled vertical stripes, curved the ends of lines, sharpened short beams, etc.
Font and Colors
The Detroit Tigers chose an Old English typeface for their emblem. Thanks to the combination of many intricate details, the single letter looks impressive and indicates the age of the franchise.
While the official palette includes orange, navy blue, and white, the modern logo only contains two. Orange is found only in those emblems with a tiger.