Although Jim Northrup is best remembered for his heroics in the 1968 World Championship season when he led the team in batting, smacked five grand slams (including one in Game 6 of the World Series) and won the Series with his Game 7 seventh inning triple over Curt Flood’s head, the following season the Grey Fox had one of his greatest games.
On August 28, 1969 at Tiger Stadium, Northrup became the first Tiger since Ty Cobb to go 6-for-6.
In the second inning he smashed his 17th homer and followed it with four straight singles.
And then in the bottom of the 13th inning with a 3-3 tie, two outs and a man on, Northrup capped off his remarkable evening with a towering two run homer that hit the right field light tower before bouncing off the roof and onto the field.
Because the ball hit the light tower, above the roof, Northrup was credited with being the sixth player to “clear the roof. Northrup’s boyhood hero Ted Williams was the first to do it 30 years earlier when The Splendid Splinter’s shot bounced onto Trumbull before hitting the Checker Cab Company Building.
Northrup’s 6-for-6 night was the fourth in Tiger history. In the Tigers’ inaugural season of 1901 Bill Nance did it, followed by Bobby Veach in 1920 and Ty Cobb in 1923. Cobb had one of his greatest games when he hit three homers, a double, and two singles.
Arguably Northrup’s perfect night was even better considering that he won the game in such a dramatic fashion, right out of the movie “The Natural.”
However the following year a light-hitting Tiger infielder named Cesar Gutierrez did one better, but not in such dramatic fashion.
On June 21, 1970 in the second game of a doubleheader between Detroit and Cleveland, Gutierrez went 7-for-7 including a triple to set an American League mark and tie a major league record for hits in a game without making an out.