Former chief judge recalls proud 'Tiger' moment


In a 2015 photo, Tigers great Miguel “Miggy” Cabrera and his wife pose with then Chief Judge Gerald Rosen after the federal jurist swore in the couple as U.S. citizens. At right, Miggy poses with a gavel.

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

At his portraiture ceremony in 2017, Chief Judge Gerald Rosen was roundly saluted by a host of legal and political dignitaries for his distinguished 27-year career on the federal bench in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

He was lauded as the chief architect of Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” that helped spare the DIA and as a federal judge who approached all of his responsibilities with “vigor, diligence, and keen intellect.”

The Oak Park native also was praised for his work as a “student and a servant of the law,” a “jurisprudential philosopher,” and an “avid historian, especially in the history of all things Churchillian.”

What wasn’t mentioned that eventful day was his lifelong passion for the Detroit Tigers, a team that alternately has brought great joy, heartache, and bewilderment to legions of baseball fans across Michigan.

As a diehard Tiger fan, Rosen has experienced all of those emotions and more, and annually orchestrates a spring contest where he asks many of his friends in the legal community to forecast how many wins his favorite team will rack up over the course of the upcoming season. (For the record, noted Detroit attorney Steve Fishman was this year’s winner, accurately predicting that the Tigers would reach the 78-win mark.)

In 2008, Rosen even had the honor of tossing the ceremonial first pitch at a Tiger game in Comerica Park, delivering a strike to a round of applause from those gathered for the Major League contest.

And yet, perhaps Rosen’s proudest moment as a Tiger fan occurred September 24, 2015, when he swore in Detroit star Miguel Cabrera and his wife, Rosangel, as U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the federal courthouse downtown.

“After the ceremony, he wanted to sit up at my bench,” recalled Rosen, who as chief judge presided in the marble-laden “Million Dollar Courtroom” on the seventh floor of the Theodore Levin Courthouse. “We then went back into my chambers where I showed him some of my baseball memorabilia. He picked up a ball signed by (St. Louis great) Stan Musial that I got from my father and said, ‘Stan Musial – great hitter!’”

The same, of course, could be said for Cabrera, who capped his brilliant baseball career October 1 with an emotional win over the Cleveland Guardians, thrilling a sellout crowd not with his bat but with his glove, flawlessly fielding an eighth inning grounder to first in his final appearance at Comerica Park.

“What a day at the ball park,” Rosen said of the Cabrera farewell, noting that the Venezuelan-born slugger finished his career with 3,174 hits, 511 home runs, and a .306 batting average. “A fitting celebration for Miggy and his wonderful career. It’s been a joy to watch him these past 16 seasons. Gracias, Miggy!”

While Cabrera will be missing from the Tiger lineup next season, Rosen is hopeful that this year’s improved record can serve as a building block for the 2024 baseball campaign.

“I’m cautiously optimistic for next year,” he said. “They’re going to need some better, more consistent hitting – they left way too many men in scoring position – and a true third baseman, but the pitching, both starting and relief, was solid this year and could be better next year. And, unlike the last two years, better luck with injuries. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

“As always, ‘Wait ‘til next year!’” Rosen said with a smile.


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