BASEBALL'S BEST: 1984 DETROIT TIGERS
July 13, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
By Troy Derengowski, EIHSS Sports
1984 DETROIT TIGERS
You have to go back to the 1927 New York Yankees the last time a major league team owned first place from opening day until the end of the season. This time the 1984 Detroit Tigers turned the trick after starting the season with an astounding 35-5 record. The first nine games belonged to the Tigers which included a no-hitter by Jack Morris. They went 18-2 in April and then raced out to a 26-4 record after 30 games. By the end of May, the Tigers tied a major league record 17 consecutive road wins. It’s a good thing the Tigers got off to a hot start because Toronto was winning at a .659 clip.
Manager Sparky Anderson became the first manager to win 100 games in each league following his stint in Cincinnati with the Big Red Machine. Anderson said this Tigers team was actually better than the Reds of 75 and 76 because they had better defense, pitching and depth. Anderson claimed the Tigers were truly a team in the real sense of the word. The Tigers led the AL in homeruns yet didn’t have a single player hit 35. They didn’t have a single pitcher win 20 games or pitch 250 innings yet they led the AL in ERA despite playing in a very small Tigers ballpark.
Detroit got solid pitching from Jack Morris who went 20-11 with an ERA of 3.60, Dan Petry (18-8 3.24), Milt Wilcox (17-8 4.00), Willie Hernandez (32 saves) and Aurelio Lopez (10-1 2.94 14 saves). Hernandez was the winner of the Cy Young Award and was named AL MVP. The Tigers were also very strong up the middle on defense with catcher Lance Parrish, 2B Lou Whittaker, SS Alan Trammell and CF Chet Lemon. Parrish had a great year at the plate with 33 HR’s, 98 RBI, Whitaker hit 13 HR’s with 56 RBI, Trammell was also solid at 14 HR, 69 RBI .314. Lemon was also solid at the plate with 20 HR’s, 76 RBI and a .287 BA. RF Kirk Gibson was the first Tiger ever to hit more than 20 homeruns and steal 20 bases in one season. Gibson hit 27 HR’s.
The Tigers had to keep winning after the hot start because the pressure was on to make sure they didn’t choke. SS Alan Trammell said the team would have been labeled as “chokers” if they would have lost the division and not made the playoffs. Sparky Anderson said “if anything, that fast start put pressure on us that no other team ever experienced before. Everywhere we played, everybody expected us to win and everyone tried to knock the bully down”. By the way, the Blue Jays closed the gap on Detroit on June 6th to only three games before the Tigers took three of four from Toronto and three of four in Baltimore. The race was essentially over. Detroit eventually won the pennant September 18th.
The Tigers beat Kansas City in the AL playoffs 3-0 then defeated San Diego in a rather dull World Series. This was the first World Series title win at Tigers Stadium since 1935. Anderson said following the win, “I’m not saying this was a great team but it was a great season.”
FINAL RECORD: 104-58
WORLD SERIES: BEAT SAN DIEGO 4-1
MANAGER: SPARKEY ANDERSON