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Detroit Tigers


Team 7133-6613, 519

The Tigers rival any team in baseball for the distinction as most conservative. Authoritarian ownership through the years resisted change (night baseball, the hiring of black players and free agents) while fielding teams that have been generally respectable, sometimes outstanding, rarely just bad. Detroit was a charter member of the American League in 1901. The city was at first an indifferent baseball town; AL president Ban Johnson considered moving the Detroit team to Pittsburgh in 1903. But the NL blocked the move at the same time it granted recognition to the American League. The automobile industry spurred growth in Detroit and support for the Tigers followed. That support has rarely slipped. Tiger baseball became big business under the ownership of Frank Navin (1907-35). The team won five pennants during that period, and its first World Series in 1935, shortly before Navin's death. Walter O. Briggs Sr., the new owner, enlarged the home stadium, Navin Field (dating to 1912) in 1938 to 56,000 seats and renamed it after himself.
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» 1908: Forty-Five Feet Toward Immortality
» 1951: Eddie Gaedel's Major-League Debut

» Photo: Ernie Harwell from Baseball Days
» Photo: Larry Doby, 1959 from Black Baseball in Detroit
» Photo: Goose Goslin, 1935 from Baseball Between the Wars

Book Excerpts
» The Detroit Tigers: A Pictorial Celebration by William M. Anderson

Greatest Teams
» Greatest Teams: 1984 Tigers

» 1952: The Odd Year of Virgil Trucks by Jonathan Brolin
» Remembering Harvey Riebe: Pursuing the Baseball Dream During World War II and the Forties by Jim Sargent
» Ty Cobb's Greatest Thrill in Baseball by Dan Holmes
» Our Perfect Game by Sparky Williams

Ask The Experts
» : Who played third base for the Detroit Tigers in 1984?
» What was the Opening Day lineup for the 1984 Tigers?
» What is the largest run deficit ever overcome?

Around the Web
» Game photos from
» After downswing, Leyland still upbeat from (8/15/06)
» Tigers 3, Red Sox 2: Tigers win, lose from
» Tigers 7, Red Sox 4: Tigers snap 5-game losing streak from
» Best record isn't crucial to Tigers from
» Late single the key from
» Tigers Stop Slide at Fenway, Top Red Sox from
» Franklyn German (Detroit Tigers) from

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In 1940, major league baseball Commissioner Landis awarded free agency to 91 Tigers players, ruling that general manager Jack Zeller had violated baseball's working agreement with the minor leagues by making secret deals with players on different teams in the same leagues. Forty-eight years later, an arbitrator freed Tigers star Kirk Gibson after finding the Tigers guilty of collusion in restricting the free agent market. Only the Cubs held out longer against night baseball than the Tigers, who added lights in 1948. Detroit signed no black players until after Briggs died in 1952 and his son, Walter Jr., succeeded him. Third basemnan Ossie Virgil (June 6, 1958) was the first black to play for the Tigers. From 1951 to 1960, Detroit never finished better than 17 games out of first place. Briggs' heirs sold the team his partners in 1960. John Fetzer and general manager Jim Campbell built strong teams based on pitching, defense, and left-handed power. In a key move, they hired Sparky Anderson to manage in mid-1979. Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan purchased the team in October 1983, and his new willingness to spend money helped Anderson acquire the right players to operate his incomparable platoon system. Anderson's tenure peaked with a World Series victory in 1984 over the San Diego Padres. (KT)
» May 6, 1900: The Detroit Tigers play their first Sunday home game at a new park just beyond the city limits. They will use this park for Sunday games for three years.

» January 28, 1901: The American League formally organizes: the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics, and Boston Somersets are admitted to join the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago White Stockings. Three of the original clubs—Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo—are dropped. League power aggregates in Ban Johnson as trustee for all ballpark leases and majority stockholdings, and with authority to buy out refractory franchises. Player limit is 14 per team, and the schedule will be 140 games. AL contracts give the Players Protective Association what it asked for, with 5-year limits on the rights to player services.

» September 15, 1901: It could've been worse. The Detroit Tigers rolls over Cleveland behind Ed Siever with the most lopsided score in AL history: 21-0 (equaled on August 13, 1939). Cleveland pounds out 24 hits off rookie Jack Bracken as Pop Dillon leads the way with four hits. The game is mercifully called after seven 1/2 innings to allow Cleveland to catch a train. Bracken's ERA is not helped by this outing and he will end this season, his only one in the majors, with a 6.21 mark, the highest in the deadball era.

» January 22, 1904: William H. Yawkey, the 28-year-old heir to a lumber and mining fortune, buys the Detroit Tigers from S.F. Angus for $50,000. New money and Frank Navin's shrewd management will bring three straight pennants to the franchise within a few years.

» February 21, 1904: The Yankees purchase 40-year-old Deacon McGuire from the Detroit Tigers.

» July 12, 1905: The Detroit Tigers beat New York, 6-3, with the help of two errors by Highlander 1B Jack Doyle. The vet Doyle was signed yesterday and this will be his only appearance for New York.

» June 7, 1908: The Detroit Tigers turn a triple play against the Boston Red Sox for the 2nd day in a row, but Boston wins 9-5. The two tri-killings in two games is a unique ML-record.

» October 9, 1910: The Leland Giants begin a 16-game series in Havana, Cuba. The black team will play a series against the AL champion Detroit Tigers.

» November 27, 1910: The touring Detroit Tigers, with Ty Cobb and Crawford in the lineup, play an exhibition game in Havana, Cuba. With George Mullin on the mound, the Tigers beat Almendares, 4–0.

» May 10, 1911: The Detroit Tigers lose their first home game of the year 6–2, as New York hands George Mullin his first loss. The Tigers have a 21–2 record and will lead the pack until July 4th.

» July 31, 1914: Red Sox owner Joe Lannin buy the Providence Grays (IL) and Melrose Park from the Detroit Tigers for $75,000. Detroit gets to pick one player from the Providence roster and they select P Red Oldham, overlooking Carl Mays. Detroit then purchases the Buffalo (IL) team.

» February 4, 1915: The Yankees purchase Wally Pipp and OF Hugh High from the Detroit Tigers for a reported $5,000 each. Historian Lyle Spatz (Yankees Coming, Yankees Going) writes that this was the first of some promised funneling of ball players to the recently-sold Yankee franchise.

» September 21, 1935: The Detroit Tigers clinch the pennant with a double win over the St. Louis Browns, winning 6–2 and 2–0. Eldon Auker wins the nitecap with a complete game shutout, while Tommy Bridges takes the opener. The Tigers will coast the rest of the way, going 1–6, while the Yankees go 6–1.

» July 26, 1937: Mickey Cochrane resumes command of the Detroit Tigers as a bench manager.

» July 24, 1939: The Detroit Tigers release oft-injured Dixie Walker. He signs with Brooklyn, with whom he will have his most productive year.

» December 6, 1939: In a trade of veteran shortstops–or "worn-out shortstops," as one newspaper described it–the Cubs acquire Billy Rogell from the Detroit Tigers for Dick Bartell. Rogell, who injured his arm playing handball the previous year, will hit just .136 before hanging up his spikes. The Tigers will release "Rowdy Richard" five games into the 1941 season, but he will stick with the Giants until 1946.

» August 24, 1940: At Fenway, LF Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox pitches the last two innings in a 12–1 loss to the Detroit Tigers and Tommy Bridges. Williams allows three hits and one run scores when 3B Charlie Gelbert juggles a DP grounder. On three pitches Williams strikes out Tiger slugger Rudy York, who had driven in five Detroit runs. Joe Glenn, who caught Babe Ruth's last pitching appearance in 1933, is Williams' catcher. Pitcher Jim Bagby plays the OF for the Sox.

» September 1, 1941: Rudy York wallops 3 HRs for the Detroit Tigers.

» May 14, 1943: The Detroit Tigers play their 4th straight extra-inning game, losing to the A's, 7–6.

» March 8, 1944: The Detroit Tigers invite six-foot, 11-inch Ralph Siewert to spring training in Evansville, IN.

» May 18, 1945: A wet record. The Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics both have seven straight games postponed because of rain in the past four days. In the American League, every game between the 14th and the 17th is rained out.

» July 21, 1945: The Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics battle to a 1-1 tie in 24 innings. Les Mueller hurls 192ˇ3 innings for the Tigers. No hurler has matched this endurance feat.

» September 30, 1945: Hank Greenberg's grand-slam HR in the 9th inning on the final day of the season beats the St. Louis Browns 6-3 and clinches the AL pennant for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers had been assured of a tie on September 26 when Newhouser won his 24th game, an 11-0 shutout of the Indians. There were 3 off days before the season finale today. The 2nd-place Senators had finished the season a week before, on the 23rd, to make Griffith Stadium available for pro football.

» October 5, 1945: Claude Passeau of the Chicago Cubs pitches a one-hitter, beating the Detroit Tigers 3-0 in the 3rd game of the WS. Rudy York's 2nd-inning single spoils Passeau's no-hit bid. Bill Nicholson drives in the first run.

» June 15, 1948: The Detroit Tigers beat the Philadelphia Athletics 4-1 before a crowd of 54,480 in the first night game at Briggs Stadium. The Tigers are the last AL team to install lights.

» June 30, 1948: In his first full season as a pitcher, Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians pitches a no-hitter, beating the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in front of 49,628 at Briggs Stadium. Lemon has only two scares: Dale Mitchell makes a miraculous catch of a George Kell drive in the fourth and Ken Keltner makes a great stop behind 3B in the fifth.

» June 26, 1949: Pat Mullin hits three HRs for the Detroit Tigers.

» July 28, 1951: Charlie Gehringer succeeds Billy Evans as GM of the Detroit Tigers.

» August 25, 1952: In a 1-0 win over the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, Virgil Trucks of the Detroit Tigers pitches his second no-hitter of the season. The no-hitter is in doubt for three innings when a play made by SS Johnny Pesky in the third inning is under debate. The official scorer, John Drebinger, records it as an error when Pesky has trouble getting a ball hit by Phil Rizzuto out of his glove. Dan Daniel of The New York World Telegram convinces Drebinger that it cannot be ruled an error because the ball was stuck in the fielder's glove, and Rizzuto is awarded a hit. In the sixth inning, with Trucks not having given up another hit, Drebinger calls Pesky in the dugout from the press box, and the SS says that he should be given the error rather than Rizzuto the hit. The call is changed again, and Trucks's no-hitter is preserved. Trucks's record is now 5-15.

» June 24, 1955: Washington rookie IF Harmon Killebrew hits his first HR in an 18-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

» July 16, 1956: A group headed by Fred Knorr and John Fetzer buys the Detroit Tigers and Briggs Stadium for a record $5.5 million.

» January 10, 1957: Commissioner Ford Frick rules that singer Bing Crosby can keep his "token" stock in the Detroit Tigers, even though he owns part of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

» April 19, 1957: Harvey R. Hansen succeeds Fred Knorr as president of the Detroit Tigers.

» April 26, 1957: Walter "Spike" Briggs of the Detroit Tigers resigns as executive vice-president, GM and director after a row with the front office. He is the last member of the Briggs family to hold an official position with the team.

» October 28, 1957: Crooner Bing Crosby seeks to sell his stock in the Pirates to his son, while he investigates purchasing additional stock in the Detroit Tigers.

» October 27, 1962: The Detroit Tigers begin a 17-game tour of Japan.

» August 31, 1968: Steve Blass gets the first out against the Braves, and then moves to LF as Roy Face relieves. Face retires Felix Millan and ties Walter Johnson's major-league record of 802 pitching appearances with one club. Blass comes back to pitch and the Pirates go on to win 8–0. Blass will not get credit for the shutout but will still lead the National League in shutouts with 7. Late in the game, the Pirates announce the sale of Elroy Face to the Detroit Tigers.

» August 1, 1972: Trailing by several runs in a game threatened by rain, Billy Martin has his Detroit Tigers employ stalling tactics while the opposing Milwaukee Brewers try to speed the game up. The game lasts six innings, with Del Crandall's Brewers winning 6–0. Umpire Frank Umont recommends a fine of $1,000 for both managers.

» October 11, 1973: Ralph Houk signs a 3-year contract to manage the Detroit Tigers. He had resigned from the Yankees 11 days earlier.

» December 7, 1984: In a straight trade, the Mets send P Walt Terrell to the Detroit Tigers for 3B Howard Johnson. Hojo will start for eight years in New York. Terrell will have six seasons in Detroit, interrupted by stays with four other teams.

» February 5, 1991: Jack Morris signs a contract with his hometown team, the Minnesota Twins. In doing so, he turns down a 3-year offer from the Detroit Tigers.

» August 8, 1991: The Detroit Tigers fan a team record 21 times in a 14-inning, 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays.

» October 10, 1992: Mike Ilitch of Little Caesar's Pizza buys the Detroit Tigers from Tom Monaghan of Domino's Pizza.

» September 18, 1996: Boston's Roger Clemens fans 20 Detroit Tigers, without walking a single batter, to tie his record for most strikeouts in a 9-inning game. The Rocket holds the Tigers to four hits en route to a 4-0 shutout.

» March 21, 1997: The pitching-poor Detroit Tigers release pitcher Jason Grimsley. Grimsley posted a 5-7 record with a 6.84 ERA with the California Angels last season, but was 0–3 this spring.

» July 14, 1997: At Fenway, Wil Cordero, homers as the Boston Red Sox collects a season-high 21 hits to rout the Detroit Tigers, 18-4. Cordero is cheered after hitting a two-run homer in the seventh. Cordero, accused of assaulting his wife June 11, has been booed on each of his previous 14 at-bats since he ended 11 games on the sidelines with a pinch-hit appearance last Thursday.

» July 18, 1997: The Mariners, seeking pitching help, trade Scott Sanders (3–6) and two minor leaguers (pitcher Dean Crow and 3B Carlos Villalobos) to the Detroit Tigers on Friday for righthanders Omar Olivares (5–6) and Felipe Lira (5–7). Piniella practically begged for a trade after the M's lost to Minnesota 9-7 in 12 innings, cutting Seattle's lead to over Anaheim in the American League West to one-half game.

» May 25, 1998: Cleveland 2B David Bell becomes the 3rd player in major league history to play against a team managed by his father. Bell's 2–run double brings home the go–ahead run in the Indians 7–4 win over Buddy Bell's Detroit Tigers. Bump Wills and Moises Alou are the only other players to appear in games against their fathers.

» July 18, 1998: The Boston Red Sox defeat the Detroit Tigers, 9–4, with the aid of a 7–run 4th inning. Mo Vaughn, Donnie Sadler, Darren Lewis, and Nomar Garciaparra all homer in the stanza, a first for Boston.

» April 27, 2000: Major league baseball announces what is believed to be a record 16 suspensions for a total of 82 games to members of the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers for their parts in two brawls in last Saturday's game between the teams. Managers Phil Garner and Jerry Manuel were suspended for eight games apiece, Detroit coach Juan Samuel for 15 games, and Tigers 3B Dean Palmer for eight games.

» August 3, 2001: Oakland edges the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, on Jason Giambi's 9th inning solo homer. The win goes to Tim Hudson who outduels Tiger ace Jeff Weaver. The A's collect only four hits, with Giambi's blast completing a team cycle— Terrence Long has a triple, Johnny Damon a double, Jeremy Giambi has a single, and Jason Giambi the home run.

» September 21, 2001: The Brewers fall to the Reds, 5–2. In the process, they set a new major-league record for most strikeouts in a season with 1,272. The old mark of 1,268 was set by the Detroit Tigers in 1996.

» May 19, 2002: The Detroit Tigers stage a unique promotion -- an octopus–throwing contest in honor of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Championship Series, which began yesterday at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Throwing boiled octopi on the ice is a hockey tradition in Detroit. Each participant in the Tigers' contest threw the octopi at a target with the winner getting a limo ride to the nearby Arena and tickets to the second game of the Conference Championship. Tiger pitchers Jeff Weaver and Matt Anderson try their luck along with fifty fans, but neither pitcher hits his target. The Rangers must've thought they were hitting octopus, as they lose the game, 2–1. Seth Greisinger allows one run in six 2/3 innings, and Dmitri Young's homer in the 4th snaps a 1–1 tie.