Regular Baseball games resume today, and I would like to dedicate myself to a few words (okay, A LOT of words depending on your definition of "few") about one of the greatest Detroit Tigers teams of all time and one of the greatest sports teams ever: THE 1984 DETROIT TIGERS and other related topics.
I would also like to dedicate some content to one of my top five favourite people in the history of Baseball, and the only one who is not a player: ERNIE HARWELL, the voice of the Detroit Tigers as well as my favourite Baseball player ever.
Ernie is responsible for coining the phrase "Bless You, Boys" that was the theme of that magical 1984 season and World Series victory. (See one of the comments. Actually, Ernie did not coin this phrase. I was wrong!)
1984 was the last time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series.
Today has been a bit crazy as I was out at my parents' house taking care of my mother while my father goes to Detroit to see his mother when I started writing this entry and finished later at home. I am sharing that fact because I had originally planned a long, essay, love-letter for this post, and now I am simply in a hurry just to finish the blog entry. So, instead of the long, love letter to the 1984 Detroit Tigers team, let me try something else: short (I think they are short) nuggets of observation, reflection, and/or opinion linked by pictures.
THE CORNER OF MICHIGAN AND TRUMBULL: As much as I love Comerica Park, I grew up going to games at Tigers Stadium. Though I did not make it to any playoff or World Series games in 1984, I did make it over to Detroit in the summer for one game. I like that this shirt features the stadium's location and years of service on the back with the 1984 team's World Series games and scores.
This shirt was a commemorative souvenir created for the celebration of the last year at Tigers Stadium for fans to remember some of their favourite memories from Tigers Stadium. I went to dozens of games at the old Corner of Michigan and Trumbull. It was a very special place for me.
My all-time favourite Baseball player is Alan Trammell and has been since 1984. I did not have one favourite Baseball player let alone one Detroit Tiger prior to crowning Trammell as my champion. I had many favourite players and many favourite Detroit Tigers.
Trammell was everything I wanted to be. He was smart and consistent. He was intense and focused. He was a winner. He was smooth and defensively solid. He was quiet. He led by example. Did I mention the smarts?
Bill James rated Alan Trammell as the ninth best shortstop in the history of the game in the same Historical Abstract book that I wrote about in T-shirt #115 and the Chicago Cubs (Ron Santo).
Trammell is Hall of Fame bound. He has been on the ballot since 2001. Eventually, he and Sweet Lou will be inducted. Not yet.
Trammell was World Series MVP in 1984.
He sat at Sparky's side and learned from one of the greatest managers in the history of the game. And though Tram's first run as Detroit Tigers manager was not the most stellar, he is getting more seasoning as Kirk Gibson's bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are currently in first place in the NL West.
Though Tram was not a power home run hitter (only 185), and though he did not hit enough to reach the lofty and exclusive 3000 hit club (only 28 players have so far in MLB history), he knocked 2365 hits in his career, which is not too shabby and a feat few have accomplished. Though I am not going to report Tram's position in MLB history with his career hit total, he is seventh on the all-time Tigers list after two of the Tigers in 3000 hit club (Ty Cobb and Al Kaline) plus Gehringer, Heilmann, Crawford, and Sweet Lou Whitaker (who has just four more hits than Tram, his infield partner for all those years).
Here's a great blog entry from last year that expresses many sentiments I share about the grand old ball park.
ALAN TRAMMELL REMEMBERS TIGERS STADIUM
Trammell embodied the best spirit of that time and the very nature of Ernie's phrase "Bless You Boys!"
THE DETROIT TIGERS 1984 SEASON
|Commemorative hat from the|
2012 World Series
The Tigers exploded out of the gate in 1984 like no other team that year, no other Tigers team in history, with one of the best starts in Major League history.
The Tigers cruised to a 35-5 record in the first 40 games and one of the top ten best starts by a team in major league history.
A writer collected these starts at BLEACHER REPORT.
The Tigers ended up with 104 wins and 58 losses, which is not the best record in Baseball history, but it is one of the best. And in 1984, the Tigers' record was far and away the best of that year with the next best team back at 96 wins (The Chicago Cubs).
But 1984 is special to me because it brought me back to Baseball and reminded me of how much I loved the Tigers and Baseball.
Unlike the last time when the Tigers won the World Series (1968) when I was only six years old, the 1984 win meant a lot more to me because I was watching the games with my college friends (and sometimes my father) and engaging in adult conversations about the Tigers and Baseball.
The Tigers have not won the World Series since.
Most of all, I remember the summer of 1984 and how it re-kindled my forgotten love of Baseball.
I think puberty turned me temporarily insane. I didn't really fully grow out of the insanity until I was in my forties.
But early on, I remembered how much I loved Baseball, and I have been devoted ever since.
|Hat is from Spring Training 2009|
which I attended with my best pal.
Hat is a purged gift from him.
Photo courtesy of Robert Tower
I love books about Baseball. Here's a picture of me posing with some of my books about the Tigers (though not all of my books about the Tigers) and all my books written by Ernie Harwell, most of which are signed.
This love of Baseball books should not surprise anyone. After all, I am the writerly, bookish type. Naturally, one of the things I love best about Baseball is the study of Baseball: statistics, stories, and history. The LORE. This is what Ernie gave me a passion for: THE LORE. He told the legends of Baseball both big and small like no other storyteller I have ever heard speak about Baseball.
I have written eight posts (including this one) about Baseball since I started the blog. I have written all but one of these Baseball posts about the Detroit Tigers.
Ernie took over as the voice of the Detroit Tigers two years before I was born (1960) and finally retired the year I was 38 years old (which was also the year my mother almost died from bacterial meningitis). For 38 years of my life, Ernie was the voice of the Detroit Tigers. As I wrote in T-shirt #115, I think I nailed it:
"I love listening to Baseball on the radio. This is one of the central truths of my love for Baseball. It is presented in its most classic form on the radio. I grew up listening to the Detroit Tigers on the radio, the sonorous voice of Ernie Harwell crackling across my AM band, hand-sized transistor late into the night."I am nothing if not self-referential and meticulous about the ongoing story I am constructing in these virtual pages.
Thank you, Ernie. I miss you.
There are high hopes for our Detroit Tigers this year. They made it to the World Series last year but lost to the San Francisco Giants. A lot of chatter holds with the idea that if the Tigers had opened that series at home, they would have won.
Most Tigers fans expect the Tigers to go back and win it this year. Surely that's possible. But for many fans, it's almost a certainty, and they place unreasonable expectations on this year's team.
True, Six players were All Stars.
True, the team is much the same as last year's with the addition of a returned Victor Martinez. Pitching from Scherzer has been epic. And though many grumble that the Tigers need a bonafide "closer," I do not hold with the magic of a special person that closes games. They just need good pitchers in the pen. Anyone can pitch at the end of the game. If the pitcher is a good one, he will not give up runs very often. If he is not so good, he will often be shelled.
After the Tigers won the World Series in 1984, given the talent of the team, given the number of great players on the team, people expected a dynasty, expected them to return every year for at least the rest of the 1980s. They did not play in the Series again for 22 years.
Some of the players on the current team have done what neither the 1968 nor the 1984 team could do: play in the World Series twice (2006 and 2012) in six years.
They say that "three times is the charm."
BLESS YOU BOYS!
Have a great second half of the season. First pitch of game 95 is minutes away.
- chris tower - 1307.19 - 20:07 (first pitch tonight at 20:10).