Detroit Red Wings’ first outdoor game was in prison

As a Detroit sports fan I love the Red Wings, and I’m excited to hear that the Red Wings will host the Maple Leafs for the 2013 NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

The Red Wings posted about their first outdoor ‘Winter Classic’, which (no joke) was played at a maximum-security prison against the Marquette Prison Pirates in 1954.


There was nothing ‘usual’ about the Wings’ visit. They were invited by a warden to play an outdoor game – the first in franchise history – inside the razor wire-topped stone walls and armed watchtowers of the state’s most notorious maximum-security prison.

Clearly, the game 58 years ago had a far different ambience then the last time the Wings played outdoors in the 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago’s Wrigley Field or will when the Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs play at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day.

“I was never concerned because I figured that I could take care of myself,” said Wings legend Ted Lindsay, of playing against murderers, arsonists, bank robbers and assorted other degenerates. “But I felt very strongly from having been close to them in the summertime and mingling with them that there was no reason to be worried.”

[...] To make things interesting, the Wings swapped a few players, trading goalie Terry Sawchuk, among others, and exchanged one set of defensemen, said Lindsay, who skated on the opposite wing as Howe with an inmate as their centerman.

Howe then skated the second half of the game with the prison’s wear a No. 16 Pirates’ jersey. [Read the full post…]

Here are some photos of the game from the post:

2 thoughts on “Detroit Red Wings’ first outdoor game was in prison

  1. Very interesting, Michael. I had no idea they played their first game at Marquette Prison. Who better to go up against killers than hockey players, tough SOB's, for sure.

    1. Tough is right. It's amazing to think that three of the greatest hockey players of all-time (Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Terry Sawchuk) willingly took to the ice against a team of "murderers, arsonists, bank robbers and assorted other degenerates." Absolutely crazy! That would never happen today.

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