I live in Washington, but I’m from Michigan. I do often enjoy games
for the sake of the game, but I will always root for, and have strong
support for, the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, and Wolverines. (In my mind, pro basketball stinks.)
As a Tigers fan, this year is much more fun, seeing has how they can win and everything.
I went to see the game Friday with one friend’s church group (Tigers win!) and then again Saturday with another friend’s church group (Tigers win again!).
I even bought a cap for the second game. Being tired, slightly under
the weather, and running out of church groups, I passed on the third
game (when the Mariners finally win). Now, at the All-Star break, the Tigers have the best record in baseball.
This year’s success is exciting, sure, but it’s hard to forget the
recent past: 12 consecutive years with a losing record; poor players;
bad management. Everyone thought that when Mike Illich (the Little
Ceaser’s Pizza guy who also owns the Red Wings) bought the team from
Tom Monahan (the Dominoes Pizza guy) Tiger Stadium
would be saved and the Tigers would return to their 1945/1968/1984/1987
glory. Eventually, the Tigers moved to Comerica Park and routinely
lost games. And Tiger Stadium is now slated for demolition.
I have some very strong memories about the Tigers from when I was
young. My first memories were from 1983 when the Tigers made a run at
the end of the season, but finished in second place in the Eastern
Division. That late-season streak foreshadowed the events of the
It was 1984, and I was in Mrs. Greene’s fourth grade class. Those
were the days of Chet Lemon, Sweet Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance
Parish, Kirk Gibson, Darrell Evans, Larry Herndon, Tom Brookens, Dave
Bergman, Jack Morris, Dan Petry, Milt Wilcox, Willie (Guillermo)
Hernandez, Roger Craig, Sparky Anderson. The list goes on, but these
are the names I remember. :) George Kell and Al Kaline did the TV
play-by-play and color commentary, respectively; Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey were the radio guys. Ernie Harwell says, "There's a looong fly ball, deep... and that ball is.... looooooong gone!"
The Tigers started 35-5 (and then departed Seattle 35-8). Jack
Morris threw a no-hitter on national television against the White Sox
the first Saturday of the season. In about the 6th or 7th inning, he
walked the bases loaded, got a 1-2-3 double play, and then a strikeout
(or something) to close that inning. I was pumped.
The Tigers owned the Eastern Division that year--they pretty much
had it wrapped up by the All-Star break and clinched in early September
(I think). They beat the Royals in the ALCS to win the American League
Pennant, and then went on to win the World Series by defeating the
Padres in 5 games, losing only the second game. Alan Trammell was
awarded the World Series MVP.
That was also the first year I went to see a Tigers game in person.
Much of my mom’s extended family banded together to go see a game
August 20, 1984. I saved that ticket stub for-stinkin’-ever. Jack
Morris was the starting pitcher, and the Tigers totally smoked the
Oakland A’s 14-1 (the A’s only run coming on a wild pitch). We sat in
the upper deck at Tigers Stadium along the third base line looking at
left field. At one point, there were 3 waves circulating the upper
deck at once.
More random memories about the event: We caravanned from Ionia to
Detroit and stopped to eat in Brighton. As I recall, that was also when
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets was a new product. I think I got a 6-piece.
[update 12:10 pm: fixed spelling. Sorry, Larry!]