Not meant to be exhaustive, this list is a numerical walk through Tigers’ history, hitting several of the greatest players and biggest moments, and some unusual incidents too. Enjoy!
The number of complete games thrown by Max Scherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner. Despite being in his sixth season in the Detroit rotation in 2014, and having posted an amazing 41-11 record from 2012-14 (through games of May 9), Max has never gone the distance in a game. It’s a sign of how much the game has changed, with starting pitchers throwing harder more frequently in the modern game they rarely go past the 100-120 pitch mark and usually get 6-7 innings of work. Used to be that starters paced themselves more and were expected to finish the games they started.
The uniform number worn by midget Eddie Gaedel when he pinch-hit against the Tigers on August 19, 1951, in a publicity stunt orchestrated by St. Louis Browns’ owner Bill Veeck. Gaedel, who was 3 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 65 pounds, drew a walk. Learn more about this strange happening here.
The number of hits allowed in Armando Galarraga’s “perfect game” on June 2, 2010, when he was robbed of history by first base umpire Jim Joyce’s missed call at first base. Joyce called a Cleveland runner safe on what would have been the 27th and final out of the perfect game. Replays clearly showed the call was wrong, and Joyce apologized the next day. Replay rules instituted in 2014 would have reversed the call had they been in place in 2010.
The number of home runs hit by Al Kaline in ONE inning on April 17, 1955. Kaline was still a fuzzy-faced 20-year old prospect when he clubbed a pair of homers in the sixth inning against the Kansas City A’s at Briigs Stadium. Kaline hit a third homer in that game too, which the Bengals won 16-0. The game helped propel #6 to the batting title in ’55.
The number of runs Magglio Ordonez drove in with his dramatic walkoff homer to win the 2006 pennant at Comerica Park. He only needed one RBI, but Maggs drove a Huston Street pitch into the left field stands to set off bedlam in Detroit. Just watch this clip and tell me you don’t get goosebumps.
Thu number worn by Goose Goslin when he drove in the biggest run in Detroit Tigers’ history in Game Six of the 1935 World Series. Goslin singled in Mickey Cochrane with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth at Navin Field.
When he was hired to manage the Tigers in June of 1979, this is the number of years that Sparky Anderson said it would take for him to lead the team to a championship. Exactly five years later, this happened.
A judge sentenced Ron LeFlore to this number of years for armed robbery in 1967. In 1973 he was given special permission to leave prison in Jackson, Michigan, to attend a tryout at Tiger Stadium. Detroit signed him to a contract a few months later and by 1976 he was starting in the All-Star Game. Drug use ended his career prematurely, however.
After his no-hitter on May 15, 1952, Virgil Trucks pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball in his next start against the Philadelphia A’s. He settled for a two-hitter that night, but three months later he threw his second no-hitter of the season. On July 22, by the way, Trucks gave up a leadoff single to the Senators in a game at Briggs Stadium before pitching 8 2/3 innings of no-hit ball for a 1-0 win. Most amazing about Trucks in ’52 was the fact that he won only five games all season.
The number of managers the Tigers had from 1960-66, a period in their history when everything seemed to go wrong in the manager’s office. In the midst of the 1960 season, they traded their manager (Jimmy Dykes) to the Indians for the Cleveland manager (Joe Gordon). Two of their managers died (Chuck Dressen and Bob Swift) during this stretch, and finally in 1967 they brought in veteran curmudgeon Mayo Smith, who stayed out of the way enough for the Tigers to win the whole shebang in ’68.
The number of times that former Tigers’ pitcher Jim Bunning was elected to Congress (six times as a Representative and twice as a U.S. Senator). As a ballplayer, Bunning was a tenacious competitor, using a three-quarter sidearm delivery to be a strikeout pitcher in the 1950s and 1960s. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
That’s the gigantic hat size worn by Tigers’ pitcher Gary Knotts, who pitched for Detroit in 2003-04. According to clubhouse manager Jim Schmuckal, the 8 5/8 hat size is the largest he’s ever had for a Tigers’ player in his years with the team. We wonder if teammates could see over Knotts’ huge melon in the dugout?
The number of home runs hit by Chris Shelton in the first 13 games of the 2006 season when he became somewhat of a cult hero as the team got off to a red-hot start. Shelton hit a pair of homers on opening day and three days later he hit two more. On April 17 he was hitting .471 with nine homers, 17 RBI, five doubles, three triples(!), and a Ruthian slugging percentage of 1.216. The Red Bomber came down to Earth, of course, and was actually shipped to Triple-A Toledo in August.
On October 1, 2000, Shane Halter played all nine defensive positions for the Tigers in the final game of the season against the Minnesota Twins. Halter capped his feat by scoring the winning run in the ninth inning of a 12-11 Detroit victory at Comerica Park. Halter became the fourth player to appear at every position in a single game, joining Bert Campaneris, Cesar Tovar, and Scott Sheldon. Halter faced just one batter in the 8th inning, walking him before being moved to second base. In order to make the rare stunt possible, manager Phil Garner needed another player to bounce around a bit too, and that was Brad Ausmus, who started the game behind the plate before moving to third base, second base, and first base. Dusty Allen also played four positions in the game and Dean Palmer went from third to first and back to third again. The winning run scored in walkoff fashion on a single by pinch-hitter Hal Morris, who never had another at-bat in the big leagues.
In their very first game in the American League in 1901 on April 25, the Tigers scored 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ve played more than 17,000 games since then, but the Detroiters have never had a bigger ninth inning comeback. The star of that 1901 Detroit team was Kid Elberfeld, a shortstop who was known as “the dirtiest, scrappiest, most pestiferous, most rantankerous [sic], most rambunctious ball player that ever stood on spikes.” So there.
From 1980 to 1990, Jack Morris made 11 straight opening day starts for the Tigers. Detroit won seven of the 11 games.
A – L – B – U – R – Q – U – E – R – Q – U – E No other player in Tigers’ history has had more letters in their last name than the 12 in the last name of Al Alburquerque, a relief pitcher for Detroit from 2006 to the present.
In 1949 when he won the batting title by a slim margin over Ted Williams, George Kell struck out only 13 times.
The total number of strikeouts by Anibal Sanchez on April 26, 2013, setting a franchise record. The victim was the Atlanta Braves, who swung and flailed and stood there looking at strike three 17 times.
The number of triples Curtis Granderson hit in 2007 when he became the sixth player to hit at least 20 doubles, triples, and homers in the same season. (Jimmy Rollins became the seventh later in 2007).
The number of years since Detroit’s last World Series title, a sticking point for many fans. The Tigers went through a dreadful stretch of 12 straight losing seasons from 1994 to 2005, which coincided with the exit of Sparky Anderson and the entry of Jim Leyland. But with leadership in place under Leyland starting in 2006, the team has made the postseason four times in the last eight seasons.
Baseball’s last 30-game winner (and he may really be the LAST 30-game winner) was Denny McLain, who won 31 games for the Tigers in 1968. That season, Denny soaked up every bit of fame he could, even doing bizarre organ duets like this on The Ed Sullivan Show.
In 1982, Lance Parrish hit 32 homers to set an American League record for home runs by a catcher.
The number of years that Ernie Harwell was in the booth broadcasting games for the Detroit Tigers. He finally hung up his microphone in 2002, but not before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster (way back in 1980) and had become a legend in the business and throughout Michigan. Harwell’s distinct style, with his resonant Georgian baritone, was a welcome friend to Tigers’ fans through the winning years and the losing seasons. Here’s a clip of Ernie calling the final outs of the 1984 Playoffs when the Tigers won the pennant.
The number of times Ty Cobb stole home during his brilliant career. Cobb wasn’t as dirty a player as this movie said he was, and he wasn’t a saint either, but he was a daring baserunner who scared the crap out of opposing catchers, pitchers, and infielders. Nearly half of his steals of home (25) were straight steals alone, the rest were part of double or triple steals. He often swiped bases with Sam Crawford trailing him.
Hank Greenberg hit 58 homers in 1938 and probably would have at least tied Babe Ruth’s record of 60, but some opposing pitchers stopped throwing him strikes down the stretch because he was Jewish. The original Hammerin’ Hank also lost a home run to a rainout.
The number of consecutive starts by Justin Verlander of six innings or more from August 22, 2010, to July 26, 2012. The streak was the third longest in baseball history, trailing only Bob Gibson (78 starts from 1967-70) and Steve Carlton (69 starts from 1979-82).
Jim Leyland was ejected 68 times during his big league career as a manager with the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies, and Tigers. The Marlboro Man usually got his money’s worth when he was tossed, like this instance from 2011 when Leyland did a wonderful pantomime of the first base umpire after a call was reversed.
The number of games Gene Lamont played for the Detroit Tigers. Why is this interesting? Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it is because Lamont was the Tigers’ first selection in the first MLB amateur draft in 1965. The Tigers chose Lamont with the 13th pick in the ’65 draft out of Hiawatha High School in Kirkland, Illinois. Lamont was an unremarkable backup catcher for a few seasons, but he made his mark by taking a job in the Detroit organization as a minor league manager, then climbed the ladder to manage the White Sox and Pirates before joining his former minor league teammate Jim Leyland’s staff with the Tigers.
From 1944-47, a stretch of four seasons, Hal Newhouser pitched 107 complete games, an astounding feat of endurance and reliability by the Detroit lefty. Newhouser won the AL MVP in both ’44 and ’45, and in the latter season he tossed two more complete games in the World Series.
That’s the height in feet of the flag pole that stood in deep center field at Tiger Stadium and was the tallest object in fair play in any park in major league baseball. The flag pole was going to be transferred to Comerica Park for the 2000 season but for some reason it never was. It still stands on the vacant lot at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
The total of runs batted in for Hank Greenberg in 1937 when he nearly broke the AL record for RBIs in a season. Greenberg actually finished third that season in AL MVP voting, behind teammate Charlie Gehringer and Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees.
The number of career homers hit by Bill Freehan, an 11-time All-Star catcher who was the foundation of Detroit’s great teams in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a form of perfect symmetry, Freehan hit exactly 100 on the road and 100 in Tiger Stadium.
That’s how many millions of dollars the Tigers signed Miguel Cabrera to over an eight year contract that runs through 2023.
The official listed weight of Prince Fielder during his two years with the Tigers was 275 pounds, but most observers thought he was closer to about 290.
The number of homers on the career ledger of Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who had two homers washed out in rained out games that would have given him 401. He narrowly missed being one of the few AL players to reach 400 homers and 3,000 hits.
From 1931-34, Charlie Gehringer played in 511 consecutive games for the Detroit Tigers, a franchise record that has never been surpassed. The hard-hitting second baseman won the AL MVP Award in 1937 and earned election to the Hall of Fame.
The number of feet Cecil Fielder’s mammoth home run traveled in Milwaukee’s County Stadium in 1991 on September 14, 1991 off Dan Plesac. The home run, which you can see here, went OUT of the ballpark over the grandstands in left field.
The number of dollars the Detroit Tigers paid to acquire 18-year old Ty Cobb’s contract from the Augusta Tourists in 1905. Cobb made that investment pay off, winning 12 batting titles for the Tigers and helping the team to three consecutive pennants from 1907-09.
That’s how many games Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker played together, a major league record for teammates. Both players debuted on September 9, 1977, and got their first hits in that game off the same pitcher. They did nearly everything together, including turning more than 1,000 double plays as a tandem. In the celebration after the final game at Tiger Stadium in 1999, the duo were the final former Tigers to run onto the field.
The record number of strikeouts by Mickey Lolich for the Tigers, an American League mark for the most by a left-hander. No other southpaw: not Lefty Grove, not Hal Newhouser, not Whitey Ford, nor Frank Tanana (who missed Mickey’s total by 10), Mark Langston, Randy Johnson, or C.C. Sabathia, has thrown as many strikeouts as Mickey Lolich did in the long history of the American League.
The number of Hall of Fame votes Jack Morris received in his 15 years of eligibility on the baseball writers’ ballot. The total is the second highest in history of voting (only Jim Rice, who was elected in his 15th and final year had more). Morris was the best chance from Detroit’s ’84 team to earn election on the ballot. Alan Trammell has received modest support, and Lou Whitaker didn’t even receive enough votes to stay on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.
When Mark Fidrych made his first start of the 1977 season after having missed nearly seven weeks with an injury, there were 44,207 who packed into Tiger Stadium for a Friday night game against the Seattle Mariners. The Bird dazzled them with his pitching and his antics, but he lost the game 2-1 when Tito Fuentes made an error.
One reply on “A numerical guide to the history of the Detroit Tigers“
Dan Thanks for all the great Tigers History numerical info.
I would like to add regarding Kaline’s missing homerun for 400.
6/1/1958: Al Kaline homered to lead off the bottom of the second inning against Chicago’s Ray Moore but the game was rained out after 3 ½ innings. This homer would have given Kaline 400 for his career.
5/17/1963: Doubleheader Tigers vs @ Senators was cancelled in the 2nd inning of the 1st game after a rain delay. Top of the 2nd, Al Kaline hit a solo homer off Bennie Daniels, then the rains came to wash it away. This could also have given Kaline 400 for his career.
and….Obviously, if Al had not missed so many games to injury he would have had a much closer total near 500.
Comments are closed.