This Week in Detroit Sports History: October 17-23


This week in Detroit sports history: Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser won MVP awards; Ty Cobb was awarded a controversial batting title; Tiger manager Bob Swift passed away; Dick McAuliffe was traded; Willie Horton was born in Virginia; the Tigers clinched the 2012 pennant; Kenny Rogers won a World Series game in Detroit.

October 17
On October 17, 1966, Tiger manager Bob Swift dies after a battle with lung cancer. Swift is the second Detroit manager to die in the last two months. Chuck Dressen, who Swift had replaced in the middle if the ‘66 season after Dressen had a heart attack, died in August. Swift had spent 10 seasons as a player with the Tigers, serving as their catcher on the 1945 World Series championship club.

October 18
On October 18, 2012, the Tigers pound the Yankees 8-1 to finish off a sweep in the American League Championship Series and win the pennant. Max Scherzer is masterful, allowing just two hits as he pitches into the sixth. Detroit’s bullpen allows no hits over the last four innings and the offense clubs four home runs, two by Jhonny Peralta. It’s the 11th pennant in franchise history for the Tigers.

On October 18, 1942, Willie Horton is born in Arno, Virginia. When he’s a young child, Horton’s family moves to Detroit, where he stars as a prep player. At the age of 18 he signs a deal with the Tigers, for whom he plays for 15 seasons. In 1968 he is the leading home run hitter for the Detroit team that wins the World Series. Beloved in the city, Horton is the only player not in the Hall of Fame who has a statue in Comerica Park and his uniform number retired.

On October 18, 1910, after much controversy, American League president Ban Johnson names Ty Cobb as the official batting champion. Johnson rules that Cobb should receive credit for his hit in a suspended game that wasn’t originally counted by league statisticians. A scandal had erupted when it became evident that the Browns had allowed Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie to collect a number of hits during the final days of the season, so that Cobb would not win the title and the automobile that would go to the winner. It’s Cobb’s fourth batting title.

October 19
On October 19, 1945, Tiger ace Hal Newhouser is named American League Most Valuable Player for the second straight season. Newhouser won the pitching triple crown, going 25-9 with a 1.81 ERA and 212 strikeouts. He receives nine first place votes and easily outdistances Detroit teammate Eddie Mayo.

October 20
On October 20, 1935, Hank Greenberg is unanimously elected the American League’s Most Valuable Player. The Detroit first baseman leads the league with 36 home runs and 168 runs batted in.

On October 20, 1909, Ty Cobb surrenders to police in Cleveland on charges stemming from a felony assault earlier in the year. Accompanied by Tiger owner Frank Navin, Cobb enters a not guilty plea and pays a bond for release. Cobb would later plea guilty to a lesser charge and pay a fine. In August he’s assaulted a black man outside a Cleveland hotel.

October 21
On October 21, 1946, Detroit pitcher Hal Newhouser finishes second to Boston outfielder Ted Williams in voting for American Most Valuable Player. Newhouser won 26 games and led the league in ERA as he nearly wins the MVP Award for the third straight season.

October 22
On October 22, 2011, Niklas Lidstrom becomes the fourth Detroit Red Wing and just the 14th player in NHL history to play in 1,500 games. Lidstom joins Wings legends Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, and Steve Yzerman on the list.

On October 22, 2006, Kenny Rogers continues his mastery in the post-season, extending his scoreless innings streak to 23 with eight shutout frames in Detroit’s 3-1 victory in Game Two of the World Series. During the game, the Cardinals ask the umpires to examine Rogers’ glove for a foreign substance, citing a dark smudge on his pitching hand. Rogers claims the smudge is dirt from the mound.

October 23
On October 23, 1973, the Tigers trade veteran infielder Dick McAuliffe to the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Ben Oglivie. McAuliffe had spent 14 seasons with Detroit, serving as an important part of the team as the Tigers advanced to the World Series in 1968 and 1972 Playoffs.

On October 23, 1931, Jim Bunning is born in Southgate, Kentucky. Bunning debuts with the Detroit Tigers in 1955 and wins 20 games for the first time two years later. In nine years with Detroit, Bunning pitched a no-hitter and won 118 games. He’s elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996.