Twenty-five years ago today, Tiger first baseman Dave Bergman delivered his second dramatic game winning homer against the arch rival Toronto Blue Jays.
Sparky Anderson has called the game the key victory in the chase for the ’84 pennant.
Despite an unbelievable 35-5 start, the pesky Blue Jays were just 8 ½ games behind Detroit on September 7th when the Tigers began a crucial three games series in Toronto. If the Blue Jays swept at home, Toronto would be nipping at the Tigers heels for the final month at 5 ½ games out.
In the bottom of the eighth, “Big Mo” was on Toronto’s side as they held a 4-0 lead.
However like the’68 Tiger World champs, you could never give up on the ’84 Bengals.
Kirk Gibson, who always had the flair for clawing back in dramatic fashion, belted a three run homer before the Tigers scratched out another run to tie the game.
And then in the top of the tenth, Tiger first baseman Dave Bergman, who had been acquired from Philadelphia with Willie Hernandez during spring training delivered a game winning, dramatic three run homer that devastated Toronto. The Tigers went on to sweep the series and take a commanding 11 ½ game lead over the Jays.
In his book, Bless You Boys: Diary of the Detroit Tigers’ 1984 Season, Tiger manager Sparky Anderson wrote about the pivotal September 7th game:
“I wouldn’t say it to the writers after the game. But this one won it for us. This one put the nail in the coffin. It was the biggest game of the year for us. We did what we had to do—we stopped them in their home park.”
Bergman’s game winning homer was actually the second one he hit against the Jays in 1984.
The first one on June 4th at Tiger Stadium was televised nationally on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball.
At the time, the Tigers had only a 4 ½ game lead on Toronto.
In the bottom of the ninth in a 3-3 tie score, there were two outs and runners on first and third, when Bergie stepped to the plate to face Toronto’s ace reliever Roy Lee Jackson.
It would become an epic battle that Sparky Anderson called, “the greatest at bat I have ever seen in my life.”
With a 3-2 count, Bergman fouled off seven consecutive pitches before golfing a shot into the right field upper deck to win the game before 26,000 delirious fans.
Bergman only hit seven dingers in ’84, but his two game winning shots against the Jays were the most significant Tiger homers during the regular season.
And for that, we have to say in unison, “Bless You Bergie.”