UPDATED: MC5 plays softball and Wayne Kramer re-records the band's "The American Ruse"
After asking where the above photo was located in my original post below from November 4, 2020, we received several suggestions in the comments and on social media.
But we got a definitive answer from one of the folks actually in the picture.
Scott Morgan—pictured second from left—of The Rationals, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, and numerous other rock 'n' roll ragers sent a message via his niece, Jennifer Compton, who works at AADL:
I saw your article on Pulp about The MC5 playing baseball, and if you're interested I believe I can confirm the location of the baseball diamond. Per my uncle Scott Morgan—he says it's West Park, and I can confirm with the photos attached, the house with the funny windows is in both shots.
Since Google Maps' Streetview doesn't take us inside West Park, it was hard to locate where the homes were since their backsides are shown in the two photos above. Below, you can clearly make out which house is which, located on the 500 block of Miller Avenue.
In an additional comment, Compton wrote: "Small anecdote, Bob Seger pitched and Scott Morgan hit a home run that day. Source is Scott Morgan himself."
Originally posted November 2, 2020
Late yesterday afternoon I received an email promoting MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer's re-recording of his old band's political anthem "The American Ruse" off the group's 1970 debut, Back in the U.S.A.
I was very happy to get this email not because I thought "The American Ruse" needed to be remade, or because I wanted to post a political statement on election day; it meant I had a reason to post this photo of MC5 singer Rob Tyner in the batter's box.
On the far left—no pun intended—are MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and next to him in the hat is The Rationals' leader Scott Morgan. (Smith and Morgan would later form Sonic's Rendezvous Band.)
The photo, which circulated on social media, was taken in 1970 by former Bob Seger roadie Tom Wechsler, who later released the book Travelin' Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger, which featured his pix of another Ann Arbor music legend.
The event was a Trans-Love Energies softball game somewhere in Ann Arbor, but numerous searches on Google Maps trying to locate exactly where the diamond was have turned up bupkis.
I looked for baseball fields near the MC5 and Trans-Love Energies' side-by-side homes in the 1500 block of Ann Arbor's Hill Street, but there was nada; the closest was in Burns Park, but none of the houses matched those in the photo. Then I turned my attention to West Park, but the baseball field isn't facing the right direction and the area isn't ringed by the houses either. On Twitter, Steve Howell suggested to me, "I think it's Brooks Street, around Miller and 7th." I used Google Street View to drive down Brooks—and all the other roads surrounding Ann Arbor Open School—but there were still no houses matching those in the photo. (The dwelling on the left with the off-center window is pretty distinctive.) There also wasn't any post-1970 construction on those roads, in case that neighborhood's park and perhaps the surrounding homes ended up being sold off to developers.
Perhaps a reader of this blog post will identify the park in the comments section below (and I hope to notice this comment among all the spam that will also appear in the section below).
Meanwhile, here's Kramer and singer Brad Brooks' remake of "The American Ruse" along with the MC5's original version, synced to a live appearance the band made on the Windsor, Ontario channel 9 TV show The Lively Spot, hosted by DJ Tom Shannon.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.
By 1970, the men and women…
By 1970, the men and women of the MC5 had already moved out of the Hill Street commune and were likely living in the Township of Hamburg, Michigan, when that photo was taken. I’m not sure if Hamburg Township had a baseball field at the time, so they might be playing at a park some distance away. Sidenote: Fred Smith was an excellent baseball player.
Wines field, Hill St and S…
Wines field, Hill St and S Division had a fence like that. Surrounded by houses and a diamond in the corner
I believe pictured from left…
I believe pictured from left are Wayne Kramer, Fred Smith, and then Rob Tyner.
Small anecdote, Bob Seger…
Small anecdote, Bob Seger pitched and Scott Morgan hit a home run that day.
Source is Scott Morgan himself :)
Late to the discussion, but…
Late to the discussion, but the house with the distinctive attic window facing the West Park ball diamond is still standing as I write, at 225 Chapin St. (not Miller). Since the MC5 photo, New Hope Baptist Church across Chapin was dedicated in 1977, maybe incorporating the middle house and removing the rightmost one? Another house at 219 Chapin was demolished in 2011 and the land added to West Park.