A brief history of the Tigers in the World Series

Alan Trammell, who was named MVP of the 1984 World Series, leads off during a game at Tiger Stadium.

Even the most avid fan of the Detroit Tigers hasn’t witnessed every game in the team’s World Series history. But just because some of the big moments happened a long time ago, doesn’t mean we can’t look back and get a quick lesson on what the Tigers have done in the Fall Classic.

Here’s a quick primer on the who’s, what’s, and when’s of the Detroit Tigers 10 previous trips to the World Series. Once you’ve read this, you’ll be the resident expert among your family and friends as you enjoy the 2012 Series.

1907: Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs

Outcome:
Cubs won in five games.

Why the Tigs lost:
Chicago pitchers held the talented Tiger offense to just three runs in the four games they won. Ty Cobb, just 20 years old and the youngest batting champion in history, was held to just four hits in the five games and The Georgia Peach was thrown out in his only try at stealing a base.

Big moment:
The Tigers led 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth in Game One when they blew their lead. Donovan threw a ball into the dirt that catcher Boss Schmidt failed to gather and as it skipped past him, the tying run scored. Had Detroit been able to win that game (it ended tied in 12 innings), the Series may have been much different.

Our Best Performer:
Pitcher Wild Bill Donovan struck out a record-tying 12 batters in Game One, which ended in a 3-3 tie after 12 innings. With no lights back then, the game was called after the sun started to disappear.

Key Number:
18 – that’s how many bases the Cubs stole against the Tigers.

1908: Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs

Outcome:
Cubs defeated Tigers in five games again.

Why the Tigs lost:
Cubs starting pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger Brown” (he had a mangled right hand that allowed him to toss the ball in funky ways) and Orval Overall each won two games, allowing just two runs between them. The 1908 World Series is the last one won by the Cubs.

Big moment:
After losing or tying in each of their first seven games in the World Series dating back to ’07, Detroit finally won in Game Three, 8-3. In that contest, Ty Cobb put on a wonderful performance. In the 9th inning he singled, stole second and third easily, and then flashed his spikes and tried to steal home but was tossed out. In a game that was already decided, it was the most thrilling action for the Tigers in the entire series.

Our Best Performer:
Cobb batted .368 with seven hits, four RBI, and two stolen bases in the loss. of his three trips to the World Series, it was the one in which Cobb played well.

Key Number:
6,210 – the number of people who attended Game Five in Detroit at Bennett Park, the lowest attendance for any World Series game in history.

1909: Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Outcome:
Pirated defeated the Tigers in seven games.

Why the Tigs lost:
A rookie pitcher named Babe Adams, who had started just 12 games during the season for the Pirates, won three games against the Tigers, including the finale. “I will never forget the look on his face when I told him I wanted him to start the first game,” Pirates manager Fred Clarke said.

Big moment:
It was a moment that never happened. For some odd reason, Detroit manager Hughey Jennings did not use starting pitcher Ed Killian in the series at all. Killian led Tiger hurlers in ERA and was the team’s only left-hander.

Our Best Performer:
Infielder Jim Delahanty, acquired from Washington in a mid-season trade, hit .346 with nine hits and five doubles in the Series.

Key Number:
18 – once again Tiger catchers and pitchers allowed the opposing team to run rampant on the bases, surrendering 18 steals to the aggressive Pirates.

1934: Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Outcome:
Cardinals won in seven games.

Why the Tigs lost:
The Dean brothers – Dizzy and Paul – won all four games for the Cardinals, stifling Tiger batters by striking out 28 batters in their five games. Detroit held a 3-2 Series lead in Game Six at home and were tied 3-3 through six, but Paul Dean singled in a run in the 7th to give the Cards the winning run. The next day the Tigers were routed.

Big moment:
In Game Seven at Navin Field, with the Tigers already in a 7-0 hole, St. Louis left fielder Joe Medwick, who punished Detroit pitching all Series, lined a triple to deep reaches of center field. He slid hard into third baseman Marv Owen and the two briefly scuffled with each other. When Medwick took his spot in the field to start the next half-inning, he was greeted by angry Detroit fans who pelted him with fruit and garbage. Baseball commissioner Landis ordered Medwick removed from the lopsided game in one of the ugliest incidents in the history of the Fall Classic.

Our Best Performer:
Tiger star second baseman Charlie Gehringer collected 11 hits and batted .379 with a homer.

Key Number:
$3,335 – the amount of money each player on the Tigers received as their share of the World Series profits. For many of them it was equal to or greater than their regular season pay.

1935: Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs

Outcome:
Tigers defeated the Cubs in six games.

Why the Tigs won:
Pete Fox, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin, and Hank Greenberg, the meat of the Tigers vaunted offense, known as “The G-Men”, drove in 13 of Detroit’s 21 runs in the Series. This was despite Greenberg being hurt in Game Two and missing the remainder of the games.

Big moment:
In the top of the 9th in Game Six with the score knotted 3-3, Tommy Bridges allowed a leadoff triple but proceeded to retire the next three Chicago batters without allowing the go-ahead run to score. In the bottom of the inning, Goose Goslin singled home Mickey Cochrane with two outs to deliver the Series-winning run in walk-off fashion at Navin Field.

Our Best Performer:
Bridges, who went the distance in Game Six. “A hundred and fifty pounds of courage,” manager Mickey Cochrane said of him. “If there ever is a payoff on courage this little 150-pound pitcher is the greatest World Series hero.”

Key Number:
25 – the number of walks allowed by Chicago pitchers, 11 more than were issued by Detroit hurlers in the Series.

1940: Tigers vs. Cincinnati Reds

Outcome:
The Reds defeated the Tigers in seven games.

Why the Tigs lost:
Playing in their third World Series in seven years, the Tigers were favored to beat the Cincinnati Reds. But Reds hurler Bucky Walters proved to be too much, as he outdueled Schoolboy Rowe twice. Walters also hit a home run in his Game Six victory.

Big moment:
In Game Seven, with the Tigers holding a 1-0 lead in the 7th in Cincinnati, Bobo Newsom allowed two doubles to lead off the inning and tie the game. Cincy catcher Jimmie Wilson, the oldest man on either team and a man who had been coaching the Reds much of the season before being activated to take the place of catcher Willard Hershberger, who had committed suicide, laid down a sacrifice bunt that pushed the go-ahead run to third. Two batters later, the Reds got a sacrifice fly to score what would be the winning run in their 2-1 victory to capture the Series.

Our Best Performer:
Newsom’s father died after watching his son win Game One for the Tigers. The veteran Tiger hurler buried his dad and came back to pitch a gutsy victory in Game Five at Briggs Stadium holding the Reds to just three hits. He also pitched brilliantly in Game Seven on two days rest. He allowed just four earned runs in his three complete games.

Key Number:
17.18 – the ERA of Tiger starting pitcher Schoolboy Rowe, who pitched only 3 2/3 innings combined in his two starts and lost both games.

1945: Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs

Outcome:
The Tigers beat the Cubs in seven games.

Why the Tigs won:
They had Hank Greenberg and the Cubs didn’t. Greenberg returned from service in WWII in August and contributed greatly to the team’s success. He hit the only two Tiger homers of the Series.

Big moment:
Prior to Game Four, with the Cubs holding a 2-1 advantage in the Series, a Chicago fan tried to get into Wrigley Field with his billy goat, a good luck charm. He was denied and the Tigers won that day and won three of the final four games of the Series to win the title. The resulting controversy over the incident gave rise to Chicago’s famed “Curse of the Billy Goat.” The Cubs have not been back to the Fall Classic since.

Our Best Performer:
Greenberg and catcher Paul Richards.

Key Number:
6 – the number of runs driven in by 36-year old Richards, a player who was still in the big leagues only because of the depleted talent base during WWII. Richards had only four hits in the seven games, but two were clutch doubles that helped the Tigers have big innings.

1968: Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Outcome:
Tigers won in seven.

Why the Tigs won:
Detroit manager Mayo Smith gambled and played his regular starting center fielder at shortstop in the Series, allowing him to keep all three of his hard-hitting outfielders (Willie Horton, Al Kaline, and Jim Northrup) in the lineup and get Stanley’s bat in too – which was an upgrade from anemic Ray Oyler. The gamble paid off, as Kaline hit .379 with two homers, Horton hit well, and Northrup had a triple and two key homers.

Big moment:
In Game Five, with the Cardinals leading the Series 3-1, Detroit trailed 3-2 in the 5th inning when Lou Brock tried to score on a single. Tigers left fielder Willie Horton fired the ball to home, catcher Bill Freehan blocked the plate and tagged Brock (who did not choose to slide) out. It was a turning point in the Series, as Detroit stayed within one run and then came back and scored three in the 7th to pull away and stay alive in the Series.

Our Best Performer:
Mickey Lolich pitched three complete game victories, in Games Two, Five, and Seven. Lolich even belted a home run in Game Two.

Key Number:
2 – the number of harmless errors that Stanley made playing out of position at shortstop during the Series.

1984: Tigers vs. San Diego Padres

Outcome:
Tigers defeated the Padres in five games.

Why the Tigs won:
The top of the Tigers order pounced on Padres pitching throughout the Series. Fueled by Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, the Tigers scored in the opening frame in four of the five games. Largely due to this fact, San Diego starting pitchers had a terrible 13.98 ERA and lasted only 10 1/3 innings in the five games.

Big moment:
In Game Five in the 8th inning, San Diego reliever Goose Gossage talked manager Dick Williams into letting him face Kirk Gibson with two runners on and first base open. Gibson socked a 1-0 pitch into the right field upper deck, the Tigers led 8-4, and the Series was effectively over.

Our Best Performer:
Tiger shortstop Alan Trammell shined in his first appearance on baseball’s big stage. He hit .450 with nine hits and two homer runs. Jack Morris pitched two complete game victories, winning Games One and Four.

Key Number:
9 – the number of innings the Tigers trailed in the entire Series.

2006: Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Outcome:
The Cardinals won in five games.

Why the Tigs lost:
Detroit pitchers made five errors in the Series, four of them directly leading to runs. They also tossed four wild pitches, including two by Justin Verlander in the first inning of Game Five. The Cardinals were opportunistic and took advantage of the extra outs, coming from behind to win Games One, Four, and Five.

Big moment:
With a slim 2-1 lead in the 4th inning of Game Five, Justin Verlander fielded a bunt by opposing pitcher Jeff Weaver and tossed the ball wild into the left field corner after trying to force the runner at third base. The miscue allowed the Cardinals to tie the game and they added another run on their way to a 4-2 victory to seal up the title.

Our Best Performer:
Craig Monroe became just the fifth player in history to hit homers in each of his first two World Series games.

Key Number:
23 – ┬áthe number of consecutive shutout innings pitched by Kenny Rogers in the playoffs and this World Series, setting a franchise record.

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About Dan Holmes

The editor of Detroit Athletic Co. blog, is the author of Ty Cobb: A Biography. He was formerly the Web Producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and worked for Major League Baseball as a producer. He contributed to Sock it to 'Em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and Deadball Stars of the American League. Follow him on Twitter at @twebman or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.