Detroit Tigers memorabilia vendor celebrates 61 years of service

Detroit Free Press

After a season without fans disrupted a long-running streak of service, the Detroit Tigers honored one vendor’s 61 years of serving the fans.

Amzie Griffin celebrated his 87th birthday and 61st season as a vendor Thursday at Comerica Park as the Tigers faced off against the Texas Rangers.

While Griffin can normally be found selling hats, hoodies, keychains and memorabilia near Section 141, he spent his birthday in the stands behind home plate alongside friends and family.

Before the game, Griffin was honored at a luncheon where Detroit City Council member Janeé Ayers presented him with a Spirit of Detroit award. He was also gifted a framed No. 60 Tigers jersey by Nia Winston, president of the Local 24 UNITE HERE hospitality workers union.

During the second inning, the public address announcer congratulated Griffin, shouting out his years of service.

“I’m overwhelmed with the recognition. … I can’t say enough about it,” Griffin said.

“It warms my heart, makes me feel good.”

Griffin started as a vendor at Tiger Stadium on April 18, 1960, after finding the job through a newspaper ad. On July 17, 2021, Griffin began another year of selling souvenirs at Comerica Park.

More: Detroit Tigers outlast Texas Rangers, 7-5, for series sweep, 7th straight win

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What does it take to keep a vendor loyal for 61 years?

“I like it,” Griffin said. “I appreciate the fans, obviously, because they don’t have to buy from me. They can find anybody else in this stadium or go to any kiosk or store to buy from. I appreciate the fans that’s standing in line — sometimes not all the time — to make a purchase,” he said.

While Griffin still has regular customers that come to his kiosk, the number has dropped as younger fans move away or start families.

“Even when this park opened over here in 2000, I still have some older fans come by and say, ‘You still here?’ ‘Yeah, I’m still here.’ We exchange pleasantries,” Griffin said.

Over his years in retail, Griffin said there’s one thing he’s learned.

“One thing for sure: Treat your customers the way you want to be treated when you go to purchase something. Treat your customers with courtesy and dignity,” Griffin said.

Griffin isn’t just a longtime Tigers vendor, he’s a longtime fan.

“I’ve been watching the Tigers since 1953. I grew up watching the Tigers,” he said.

Griffin plans to keep his streak going.

“I don’t have no reason not to come back. They haven’t told me I can’t come back,” he said.

On Thursday, the Tigers triumphed over the Rangers, 7-5. The Tigers will be on the road for the next six games, but when they return to Comerica Park next week, Griffin said he’ll be back to work selling souvenirs.

Contact breaking news intern Kyle Davidson: kdavidson@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @jrndavidson.

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