In my lifetime, the Detroit Tigers have been to four World Series—‘68, ‘84, ‘06 and ‘12– and I have been fortunate to attend three of them.
The only one I missed was ’84.
I was living and working in another city and therefore, was unable to attend.
Yet, a week after the Tigers beat San Diego, I flew back to Detroit, drove down to the legendary “Corner” at Michigan and Trumbull and sat outside Tiger Stadium for my personal celebration. While sitting there, I recalled imagining the scene the night Tigers won the series.
Because I just had to. I had to be there for my team and celebrate the city’s latest championship.
When I went back to Minneapolis, I proudly walked around town wearing a Tigers jacket with the Old English “D” prominently displayed.
Yes, the ‘68 team had a major role in healing the divisiveness of the city resulting from rebellious events a year before and while many called it the most important championship in Detroit’s fabled sports history.
I don’t disagree.
In fact, nearly fifty years later, I can still name every starter on that team. From Horton to McLain, it was truly a special team and deserves its rightful place in this city’s sports lore.
But the ‘84 club was my generation’s team. While a youngster in ‘68, I vaguely recall going to Tiger Stadium to watch the Tigers square off against St. Louis. However, the ‘84 team was a full of players from my generation and I can recall the memories like it was yesterday.
It was a team led by the late, legendary Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson, and anchored by newly-elected Hall of Famers, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. They were elected by the Modern Era Baseball Committee on Sunday.
This team stole the heart of the city, and the nation, with its 35-5 start and virtually led the then AL East division “wire-to-wire” before winning the World Series in five games over the San Diego Padres. The signature moment was Kirk Gibson’s famous home run over a tough reliever, Goose Gossage, to seal the deal at Tiger Stadium that set off a raucous celebration.
Trammell, along with the silky smooth second baseman and, hopefully, future Hall of Famer, “Sweet” Lou Whitaker as his keystone partner anchoring the middle, was as steady and smooth as they came.
Morris, the winningest pitcher during the ‘80s, was an intense hurler with an intimidating glare who wanted the ball at any point in time. Didn’t matter when or where, just give him the ball.
In fact, I was living in Chicago when Morris threw a “no hitter” against the White Sox in April, ‘84. I listened to the game on Chicago radio but celebrated like I was at Comiskey Park, with other Detroit fans, after he got the final out.
Trammell was the spark plug as part of the engine. While others on the team had more dramatic moments and flair, he was as consistent, cool and methodical. On the diamond, he and Whitaker were so close and interconnected, many called them Tramaker because they came up from the minors and played virtually their entire careers together for the same team.
Yes, their last names became intertwined which is why so many hoped they would go into the Hall together.
Despite the team’s success, many believe the ‘84 team has been overlooked, but with Hall of Famers Anderson, Trammell and Morris, this Tiger team has finally earned its rightful place in baseball history.
And to me, the election of these two Tiger greats validates what we have all known all along, this team “restored the roar” in ‘84.
For that, thank you.
And, Bless you Boys!