Through wood-paned bay windows you could look from the Manoogian Mansion's dining room onto a backyard layered with snow and lighted only by Friday's fading gray afternoon skies.

The bay windows frame the rear of a semi-circular solarium. And that area flows from the dining room where, at the head of a long mahogany table, sat Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, speaking to guests seated on either side of him.

The guests, unusual for a Manoogian function, were from the Tigers. Among them were manager Jim Leyland, locked onto the mayor's every word, as well as coaches Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon, and the lone player on hand for this diplomatic mission, Austin Jackson, the Tigers center fielder.

"It's a little tight, let's go in here," Bing had said to the group as they greeted each other in a den area before repairing to the dining room.

And then they talked, with Bing speaking for much of the 20 minutes they visited — as citizens, as men with different but deep stakes in Detroit, and as athletes steeped in the culture and challenge of professional sports and its place in the Motor City, and in Michigan.

"A lot of people say this is Hockeytown, or that this is a football town — and, well, the Pistons don't even play in Detroit anymore — but what you see is that everyone is looking to the Tigers again," said Bing, whose Detroit experience began when he was drafted by the Pistons in 1966 and became, for many years, a dismal NBA team's lone hope.