Paws the Tiger Title

Photo Credit: Kevin Ward

Cats inspire people in a lot of ways. Tigers are beautiful, strong, and mysterious. They have been fascinating humans throughout history. One of the ways we show tribute to the felines we adore is calling ourselves by their names and using their images. Paws the Tiger, the mascot of the Detroit Tigers, is a famous cat that embodies the things we love about tigers.

The Detroit Tigers Earn Their Stripes

Baseball in Detroit goes all the way back to the 1860’s. Originally, the Detroit baseball team had been called by a number of different names including the Wolverines (now the University of Michigan’s team name) and the Cremes. The team officially joined the American League in 1901 as “the Detroit Tigers.”

No one really knows for sure why the team became known as the Tigers, but there are several circulating theories. Here are a few of the most popular theories:

  • Paws the Tiger: Face of the Detroit Tigers - Comerica Park

    One of the tiger statues at Comerica Park Photo Credit: Anna Fox

    George Stallings, an early manager of the Detroit Tigers, claimed credit for team’s name. However, the press had referred to the team as the Detroit Tigers before Stallings had become manager.

  • There are some that say the team was called the Detroit Tigers because they wore black socks with orange stripes.
  • It is said that a reporter at the opening game had remarked that their victory reminded him of his alma mater, the Princeton Tigers.
  • There was a militia in the Detroit area that known as the Detroit Light Guard. This group had fought bravely in both the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War. This group was highly regarded in the Detroit area and nicknamed “the Tigers.” When Detroit’s baseball team officially joined the American League, they chose the name “the Detroit Tigers” in honor of the Detroit Light Guard. There was formal permission given to use the militia’s name and the trademark.

The very first game for the Detroit Tigers was held on April 25, 1901 at Bennette Park (the area where the Detroit Medical Center is now). A crowd of 10,023 watched the Tigers play the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a nail biter of a game and the Tigers made a comeback in the 9th inning to win the game 14 – 13.

Since that time, the Detroit Tigers have had numerous victories. Unforgettable players like Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, and Miguel Cabrera have been a part of this team. They have won the World Series 4 times: 1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984. Broken records and awards just keep on coming!

Introducing Paws the Tiger

Paws the Tiger: Face of the Detroit Tigers - Family Fest 2013

Photo Credit: Scott Calleja

Paws the Tiger is the beloved mascot of the Detroit Tigers. He made his debut May 5, 1995 at Tiger Stadium and followed the Tigers in their move to Comerica Park in 2000. Paws the Tiger dances and interacts with fans inside and outside the ballpark. He makes appearances at events all over Metro Detroit. Children love to see Paws the Tiger show up at their school assemblies!

Here are a few interesting tid bits about Paws the Tiger:

  • He has his own twitter account where he tweets information about his team and appearances.
  • The number on Paws’ jersey corresponds with the current year. The only exception was in 2011 when he wore the number 00 because Spark Anderson’s jersey (#11) was retired that year.
  • In 1995, Paws the tiger was sued by a fan that was hit by a foul. The fan claimed that he was hit by the ball because Paws was distracting him from watching the ball. The fan lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay $8,650 in legal fees.
  • Paws dresses up in different costumes to coordinate with holidays, themes, and events.

There No Pawty Like A Detroit Pawty!

Comerica Park had a huge party for Paws the Tiger when he turned 16! All of the local mascots showed up for a very vibrant (and quite silly) celebration. The video below shows a portion of the party, including when Paws receives his driver’s license and brand new car.

Do you have a favorite mascot?

Resources & Digging Deeper


Great Moments in Mascot History – ESPN

Detroit Tigers Timeline –

A Day in the Life: Meet Detroit Tigers Mascot, PAWS – Visit Detroit

Detroit Tigers: Facts, History, Stats, And Resources – The Free Resource

Detroit Tigers History Timeline – Detroit Free Press