New 1967 Detroit Tigers hat evokes memories of an eventful summer

Willie Horton wore this cap during the 1967 season.

Willie Horton wore this cap during the 1967 season.

In the Summer of 1967, the radio waves in Detroit carried popular songs such as The Door’s “Light My Fire” and Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”, but Motor City baseball fans were glued to transistor radios as Ernie Harwell and Ray Lane described arguably the greatest pennant race in history.

The Tigers, White Sox, Twins, and Red Sox battled all summer for first place in a neck and neck American League pennant race that was not decided until the final day of the season.

Led by a Tiger team that included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Bill Freehan, and Dick McAuliffe, Detroit’s pennant hopes came to an abrupt end on the last day when they split a doubleheader with the Angels as the Red Sox won the pennant.

Although 1967 was called the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco when thousands of hippies flocked to the Haight Ashbury district, it was hardly the case on July 23 in Detroit when a riot broke out following the raid of a blind pig that resulted in 43 deaths and massive property destruction.

Detroit has never been the same. But ironically, Detroit’s motto as displayed on the city seal is Speramus Meliora Resurget Cineribus’ which translates to, “We hope for better things. It will arise from the ashes.”

On that day, as the Tigers split a double header against the Yankees at Tiger Stadium smoke could be seen from the press box. Following the game, Tiger slugger Willie Horton rushed to his old neighborhood still dressed in his Detroit uniform as he surveyed the situation and tried to quell the crowd.

Although the summer of ‘67 turned out to be a tragedy for the city and a major disappointment for Tiger fans, it helped catapult the Tigers to the ’68 World Championship. Horton himself has long said that “God gave Detroit the 1968 Tigers to help a city that had been torn apart by the 1967 riot.”

Last year I asked Steve Thomas, the owner of the Detroit Athletic Company, if he would be interested in making a reproduction of a game used 1967 Willie Horton hat that I own that was manufactured by the Tim McAuliffe Company in Boston.

I took the hat to Steve where he photographed and measured it for specifications before sending it to American Needle, a company that does a wonderful job of producing retro baseball hats.

One year later, the Detroit Athletic Company has now just started selling a 1967 Detroit Tigers hat that is a spitting image of the Horton gamer.

Over the years the Tigers have used numerous versions of the Old English D as their hats have been manufactured by Spalding, Tim McAuliffe, New Era and others I am sure.

Even in the same season, the Tiger hats have hardly been “uniform.”

In fact if you look closely at the 1968 Tiger team photo, Don Wert, Fred Lasher, Earl Wilson, and Wally Moses are all wearing the ’67 Tim McAuliffe cap while the balance of the team is wearing the home New Era version that we have seen since the late 1960’s.

Sorry if this sounds like a shameless plug, but I am going to be wearing the ’67 hat for what it symbolizes for me. A fighting ballclub that rose from the ashes to capture a championship and a great city that is still on the rise.

By the way, check out this fabulous video of the Sam Roberts Band and their great song, Detroit 67.

11 replies on “New 1967 Detroit Tigers hat evokes memories of an eventful summer

  • Mark Goldberg

    Thanks for a great article on the ’67 hat and how important it is to you. I’ll have to get one; I was at the Corner for a Sunday doubleheader on the day the riot broke out. I was 14 at the time; my dad drove a couple of friends and I down to the Stadium, and he noticed several police cars loaded with weaponry as we headed down the Lodge from the 7 Mile and James Couzens area where we lived. We could see smoke rising from beyond the right field stands as the afternoon went on, and when the doubleheader was over, there were police everywhere telling people get to their cars and leave the area immediately, Unfortunately for us, we were taking the DSR Hamilton bus line home to Northwest Detroit. I remember seeing someone coming out the window of a supermarket on Hamilton, carrying whatever he could. Our parents were worried, but we got home safely. No cellphones or anything then.

    I was also at the Stadium for the Sunday doubleheader on October 1, 1967, when the Tigers had to win both to force a playoff. They won the first game, but lost the second (8-5) when Dick McAuliffe hit into his only double play of the season, with two men on in the ninth, to end the game and the season.

    There was a great book written several years ago about the 1967 AL pennant race, called “Down To The Wire”, by Jeff Miller. I found it in a bookstore outlet and had to buy it, since I have long believed that the ’67 race was the greatest ever, and not likely to be repeated in the era of divisional play and multiple wild cards. Again, thanks for a fine article.

  • Mark N.

    Bill, thanks for pointing out something I always noticed when thumbing through old Tiger yearbooks from the ’60s: there was absolutely no uniformity in the style of “D” the players wore on their caps, which I always found interesting and puzzling. I suppose it just depended on what company manufactured the cap (?).

  • Matt L.

    One more thought, you should really include social media links to be able to easily share this article.

  • John B

    67 was a memorable year as far as world events, the riot, and probably the best pennant race ever. Although the Tigers came a little short, I’m sure it motivated them for the best season ever, 1968.

    I’ll be back in town from SoCal this week and plan on stopping by the DAC to check out the 67 cap.

  • Gary Steinke

    Good to hear from you again Bill. The game I remember the most from the ’67’ season was the Saturday game against the Angles…that was the first Tiger game I ever went to, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

  • Pat Frawley

    Nice article. The Tigers first wore that cap in 1962, wore it throughout the sixties, and last wore it in 1968. It was kind of odd that they would have several players wearing this hat, and some wearing the one the Tigers still wear now. I have found some photos of the Denver Bears minor league players from 1960-61, when they were the Tigers’ Triple A farm team, and they wore the hat–guys like Purnel Goldy and Jake Wood–but the Tigers didn’t wear it until ’62.

    I’ve been looking for a “remake” of the hat for years, and am grateful that you took the time to get it done. I saw it on your website last night, and ordered it. Looking forward to getting it.

    I enjoy your articles on the Tigers and the Lions from the 60’s and 70’s. Norm Cash and Milt Plum were my guys. Still waiting for Milt to come through for the Lions…


  • Donn Sinclair

    Got mine last week. I like it because if fits the way ball caps did when I was a kid. You can roll it up, put it in your pocket. Can’t do that with a New Era. Besides the reasons mentioned above, 1967 was significant for me, being the year I graduated high school.

  • Keith Pittman

    Bought mine in 2013. It is the best cap I own. Fits close to the head and is just the right size. Like the caps I wore back in the 60’s. Don’t like the new caps, they sit too high on your head.

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