These players won the most championships in Detroit

Nicklas Lidstrom won four Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

Nicklas Lidstrom won four Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

Those of us mortals who walk around like average Joe’s and have to pay our way into a sporting event, we don’t know what it feels like to be a “champion” at the highest level of athletics. There’s no Super Bowl for truck drivers and no Stanley Cup Playoffs in the office. But, we can appreciate our heroes winning it all, climbing the mountain, reaching the promised land, and so on. It’s thrilling to watch our teams win it all.

A few athletes have won titles in Detroit multiple times, and a select few have even won a championship four times. For a complete list, see the bottom of this article. Let me look at the repeat champions team-by-team, sport-by-sport.

Baseball and the Tigers
In their long history, the Tigers have won the World Series only four times, their first coming in 1935, when Detroit was dubbed “The City of Champions” thanks to titles won by the Lions and Red Wings, as well as Joe Louis’s status as the greatest heavyweight on the planet. The four Tiger titles have come in ’35, ’45, ’68, and ’84. Only two men have won the Series twice as Tiger players and they were teammates. Hank Greenberg and Tommy Bridges were key members of the ’35 World Championship team, but 10 years later, when the Bengals snatched the title again, only Hammerin’ Hank was still valuable to the effort, even though he came back to play only part of the ’45 season due to service in World War II. Pitcher Tommy Bridges was the other player to appear for both the ’35 and ’45 teams. In ’45 however, Tommy only pitched a handful of games down the stretch of the regular season and was not a big part of the team effort. However, he was on both World Series-winning teams, same as Greenberg.

Dick Tracewski and Gates Brown earn special mention. Both were players on the ’68 Tigers, and they earned second rings in 1984 as coaches.

Football and the Lions
Yes, the Detroit Lions once actually ruled the National Football League. It was in the 1950s, when I Love Lucy was the most popular TV show, Ike was in the White House, and gas was less than 25 cents per gallon. With quarterback Bobby Layne at the helm the Lions won championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957. Layne, Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary, Leon Hart, Lou Creekmur, Jim Martin, Jim Doran, Bob Miller, and Jim David are the only nine men to play for all three teams. 21 others, including Doak Walker and Joe Schmidt, won two titles as Lions.

Hoops and the Pistons
Since the Pistons relocated to Detroit (from Fort Wayne) in 1957, they’ve won three NBA titles, which is actually pretty good, considering the dominance of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers for most of the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Once Chuck Daly arrived in Motown, the Bad Boys jelled and captured back-to-back crowns in 1989 and 1990. Eight players earned rings in both seasons: Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, James Edwards, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguirre, John Salley, and Vinnie Johnson. The Pistons of the early 2000s went to back-to-back NBA Finals, but one only once.

Hockey and the Red Wings
We save the most prolific for last. 11 men have been members of four Stanley Cup Champions in Detroit with the Wings. The most famous are Gordie Howe and Nicklas Lidstrom. Add Red Kelly, Ted Lindsay, and Marcel Pronovost to that star-studded circle, and then throw in Tomas Holmstrom, Darren McCarty, Marty Pavelich, Johnny Wilson, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby. The Wings dominated the NHL in the 1950s and went to the Stanley Cup Finals often in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until Steve Yzerman (three Cup titles) came along that they reemerged as a dominant force in the league. 21 players have won three titles with Detroit, and 34 more won the Cup twice wearing the winged wheel on their sweater. In all, the 66 players to win at least two titles on the ice for the Red Wings makes up more than half of all the Detroit athletes to win multiple titles in Motown.

PLAYERS WHO WON MULTIPLE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN DETROIT

Detroit Tigers

2 – Hank Greenberg (1935, 1945)

Tommy Bridges (1935, 1945)

Detroit Red Wings

4 – Red Kelly (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Gordie Howe (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Ted Lindsay (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Marcel Pronovost (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Marty Pavelich (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Johnny Wilson (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Kris Draper (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Kirk Maltby (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Nicklas Lidstrom (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Darren McCarty (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Tomas Holmstrom  (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

3 – Terry Sawchuk (1952, 1954, 1955)

Alex Delvecchio (1952, 1954, 1955)

Syd Howe (1936, 1937, 1943)

Sid Abel (1943, 1950, 1952)

Steve Yzerman (1997, 1998, 2002)

Sergei Fedorov (1997, 1998, 2002)

Brendan Shanahan (1997, 1998, 2002)

Chris Osgood (1997, 1998, 2008)

Igor Larionov (1997, 1998, 2002)

Mathieu Dandenault (1997, 1998, 2002)

Ebbie Goodfellow (1936, 1937, 1943)

Mud Bruneteau (1936, 1937, 1943)

Metro Prystai (1952, 1954, 1955)

Glen Skov (1952, 1954, 1955)

Tony Leswick (1952, 1954, 1955)

Bob Goldham (1952, 1954, 1955)

Benny Woit (1952, 1954, 1955)

2 – Vladimir Konstantinov (1997, 1998)

Chris Chelios (2002, 2008)

Dominik Hasek (2002, 2008)

Aaron Ward (1997, 1998)

Larry Murphy (1997, 1998)

Kevin Hodson (1997, 1998)

Doug Brown (1997, 1998)

Joey Kocur (1997, 1998)

Martin Lapointe (1997, 1998)

Viacheslav Fetisov (1997, 1998)

Bob Rouse (1997, 1998)

Pete Kelly (1936, 1937)

Vyacheslav Kozlov (1997, 1998)

Doug Young (1936, 1937)

Bucko McDonald (1936, 1937)

Ralph Bowman (1936, 1937)

Normie Smith (1936, 1937)

Jimmy Orlando (1937, 1943)

Jimmy Peters (1950, 1954)

Vic Stasiuk (1952, 1954)

Earl Reibel (1954, 1955)

Bill Dineen (1954, 1955)

Keith Allen (1954, 1955)

Jim Hay (1954, 1955)

Joe Carveth (1943, 1950)

Jack Stewart (1943, 1950)

Leo Reise Jr. (1950, 1952)

Marty Barry (1936, 1937)

Wally Kilrea (1936, 1937)

Gord Pettinger (1936, 1937)

John Sorrell (1936, 1937)

Herbie Lewis (1936, 1937)

Larry Aurie (1936, 1937)

Hector Kilrea (1936, 1937)

Detroit Pistons

2 – Isiah Thomas (1989, 1990)

Joe Dumars (1989, 1990)

Bill Laimbeer (1989, 1990)

John Salley (1989, 1990)

Vinnie Johnson (1989, 1990)

Dennis Rodman (1989, 1990)

James Edwards (1989, 1990)

Mark Aguirre (1989, 1990)

Detroit Lions

3 – Jack Christiansen  (1952, 1953, 1957)

Bobby Layne (1952, 1953, 1957)

Yale Lary  (1952, 1953, 1957)

Leon Hart  (1952, 1953, 1957)

Lou Creekmur (1952, 1953, 1957)

Jim Martin (1952, 1953, 1957)

Jim Doran  (1952, 1953, 1957)

Bob Miller (1952, 1953, 1957)

Jim David (1952, 1953, 1957)

2 – Tom Dublinski (1952, 1953)

Jug Girard (1952, 1953)

Bob Hoernschemeyer (1952, 1953)

Doak Walker (1952, 1953)

Pat Harder (1952, 1953)

Ollie Cline (1952, 1953)

Bob Smith  (1952, 1953)

Cloyce Box  (1952, 1953)

Blaine Earon  (1952, 1953)

LaVern Torgeson  (1952, 1953)

Thurman McGraw (1952, 1953)

Les Bingaman (1952, 1953)

Sonny Gandee (1952, 1953)

Vince Banonis (1952, 1953)

Gene Gedman (1953, 1957)

Dorne Dibble (1953, 1957)

Joe Schmidt (1953, 1957)

Dick Stanfel (1952, 1953)

Harley Sewell (1953, 1957)

Charlie Ane (1953, 1957)

Carl Karilivacz (1953, 1957)

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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 @thedanholmes or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.