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Fans get ready for hockey on Red Wings Night at Comerica Park

Larkin throws out ceremonial first pitch with Tigers pitcher Boyd catching

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- On a beautiful summer night for baseball at Comerica Park, fans' thoughts turned to … hockey?

Well, maybe just a little bit as it was Detroit Red Wings Night at the ballpark on Friday.

Wings alternate captain and Michigan native Dylan Larkin was there to throw out the first pitch before the Tigers took on the Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins.

Before that, Larkin had the chance to meet Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, the former Twins manager, in his office.

Then it was off to the field to represent the Wings.

Tweet from @FOXSportsDet: There was a #SnipShow at Comerica Park tonight! 🏒🥅🚨#DBoss tossing the First Pitch for #RedWings night.#LGRW #MotorOn

Even though it was his second time doing so, it was still a special thing for Larkin to be able to take the mound at a place he visited as a kid.

"For myself to be out there and throwing a pitch at Comerica Park before an MLB game is pretty surreal," Larkin said. "It's just another cool perk of being here and playing in Detroit. The sports teams, we're all united and we have a great sense of unity and pride of representing our city and it's just cool for myself and my family to come out here and enjoy this."

Tweet from @tigers: .@Dylanlarkin39 finds the back of the n��e��t�� glove. #MotorOn | #LGRW

On the receiving end of the perfect pitch was Tigers pitcher Matt Boyd, someone Larkin has gotten to know through various events, including the Ilitch Charities Golf Classic, which was held this past Monday.

"He's a fantastic guy, he's such a humble guy," Larkin told FOX Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson during the game. "For me, it's pretty cool to build a relationship with other athletes in the city who represent the city, love being an athlete in Detroit. He's just a great guy and I got to meet him a couple times and we joked today when I greeted him after throwing the first pitch, he said he wants to come out to a practice now and come out on the ice with us after and shoot around.

"I think it would be great to have him out."

Tweet from @FOXSportsDet: Our man @IAmTrevorT gets to chat with @DylanLarkin39 on this @DetroitRedWings night at Comerica Park. #LGRW #MotorOn

While Larkin was chatting with Gardenhire and Boyd before the game, some Red Wings alumni were surprising fans. Kirk Maltby, the four-time Stanley Cup champion and current Wings pro scout, sat next to current television analyst Mickey Redmond.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: Young fans getting autographs from #RedWings Mickey Redmond and Kirk Maltby.

Tigers fan Jeff Gabalski of West Bloomfield was not expecting to see them when he entered the ballpark.

"I had no clue," Gabalski said. "My wife and I looked, we were like, are they giving anything away tonight? OK, a bag, we get a bag. We walked in and I'm like, 'Malts! Redmond! Wow!' I had no idea.

"I'm gobsmacked. I come here and here they are, this is great."

Gabalski got his photo taken with the two former Wings.

"That's going up on Facebook right away," Gabalski said. "The Grind Line and Mr. 50 goals in a year, Mr. Redmond. I got goosebumps!"

Instagram from @dwakiji: #Tigers Dave Rozema greets #RedWings Mickey Redmond and Kirk Maltby at Comerica Park. #RedWingsNight

Although the Tigers are still playing and school hasn't started quite yet, it is almost time for hockey as the NHL Prospect Tournament begins next Friday and Red Wings training camp the Friday after that.

"It's just right here," Larkin said. "We have a couple public events - we had the Ilitch Charities outing, the Kocur Softball event and when those start coming around, you know it's right around the corner and it feels good.

"We had a long summer and it's good to get all the guys back in town skating and everyone looks great and ready to go."

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