The Freep reports that Taylor North beat an Ohio team (cherry on top!) 5-2 this weekend to take home Michigan’s first Little League championship since Hamtramck won it all in 1959. You can read on at the Freep & congratulations to Taylor!
“It means a lot. Not only for me, but the people around me: my teammates, the organization of Detroit, my coaches, the managers I’ve had for my whole career, the people from Venezuela, my family. It’s really big because it’s something special for my country, for my family to be able to do this. I’m really happy.”
– Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers
Yesterday in Toronto, Miguel Cabrera launched a 500-foot homerun over the scoreboard & entered the MLB record books as the 28th player to hit 500 homers. The Freep has compiled some notable facts from Cabrera’s first dinger way back in 2003 to the 500th home run on Sunday. Congratulations Miggy!
Keith took this photo a few years back. Head over to his Flickr for the latest!
The Detroit Tigers open the 2021 season at Comerica Park today at 1:10 PM. MLB shares:
Cleveland heads into the season looking to lean on its stars to keep its window of contention open for another run at the postseason. The Tigers return to Motown with a new manager looking for a fresh start and an influx of young talent looking to turn the corner on their rebuild and begin the climb back toward contention.
…It’ll be a different-looking opener due to the pandemic, but the 20 percent capacity allowed marks the first game with fans at Comerica Park since Sept. 26, 2019. Fans will be greeted with a familiar division rivalry that Cleveland has owned in recent years, including 18 wins in 19 meetings in ’19, and seven of 10 games last season.
…manager A.J. Hinch will make his first appearance in a Tigers uniform since he was Detroit’s backup catcher on the 2003 team. He’ll also manage his first Major League game since he led the Astros in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. Hinch sat out last year under suspension from Major League Baseball stemming from the Astros’ sign-stealing investigation, a controversy that led to his dismissal as manager in Houston.
The Detroit Tigers open the season against the Cincinnati Reds TONIGHT at 6:10 PM at Great American Ballpark. The home opener (at an empty Comerica Park) is Monday night. It will definitely be a strange season (with a 16 team playoff), but I for one welcome a slice of summer that’s been missing.
Kevin took this photo last summer. See more in his Landscape album on Flickr.
Mark Fidrych reminded you of your childhood, no matter how old you were when he pitched. This was his charm, his curse, his legacy. He personified athletic innocence.
-Michael Rosenberg, Detroit Free Press
More about this weird and wonderful character can be found at BaseballReference.com’s page for Mark Steven Fidrych and definitely watch this interview with Fydrich for a look at this Detroit Tiger original!
“I owe everything to baseball. Without it, I’d probably be a bum.”
Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers and all of us lost #6 Al Kaline. From his playing days in the 50s & 60s to a broadcasting career that spanned decades, “Mr. Tiger” was a fixture, bringing dedication and a simple love of the game in good times and bad.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame entry for Al Kaline says in part:
The 18-year-old Kaline came to the Tigers in 1953 directly from high school, having never spent a day in the minors, and by the next season established himself as one of the game’s bright new talents. By 1955, at age 20, he became the youngest player to win a batting title when he hit .340. That same year the youngster became only the fourth American League player to hit two home runs in a single inning.
Offensive consistency became Kaline’s hallmark over the years, hitting at least 20 home runs and batting .300 or better nine times each. A superb defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm, he also collected 10 Gold Glove awards. In the 1968 World Series, Kaline’s only appearance in the Fall Classic, he batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight to help Detroit knock off the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
“You almost have to watch him play every day to appreciate what he does,” said veteran pitcher and former Tigers teammate Johnny Podres. “You hear about him, sure, but you really can’t understand until you see him. He just never makes a mistake.”
By the time Kaline’s 22-year big league career ended in 1974, the lifelong Tiger and 18-time All-Star had collected 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and a .297 career batting average.
“People ask me, was it my goal to play in the majors for 20 years? Was it my goal to get 3,000 hits someday? Lord knows, I didn’t have any goals,” Kaline once said. “I tell them, ‘My only desire was to be a baseball player.’”
Read more in the Hall of Fame and please share memories or links to articles you enjoyed in the comments!
Justin Verlander will take the mound today at 4:10 PM for the Detroit Tigers as the face the Chicago White Sox for their 116th Opening Day. The first game the Tigers played as a Major League team was on April 25, 1901 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Roscoe Miller started the first-ever Tigers Opening Day, a game the Tigers won 14–13.
The Baseball Almanac lists the results of all Tigers’ opening day games. They are 65-50 on opening days with an 11-8 record against the White Sox.
The Tigers’ home opener – fortuitously for the title of today’s photo – is Friday at 1:10 PM against the Boston Red Sox – play ball!
More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.
True confession: My father was a veritable baseball encyclopedia good enough for a scholarship at Yale whose love of the game kept him around baseball and me steeped in it. That said, though I learned the story of Wally Pipp at a young age, it was all wrong.
The name of Wally Pipp conjures visions of shirkers, slackers and layabouts and the stars who get a chance to shine when they take the inevitable day off. Most sports fans know the story of how on June 2, 1925 New York Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp was given the day off for a headache, and Lou Gherig played 1st for the next 2,130 consecutive games until “The Iron Horse” retired due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tom Brady “pipped” Drew Bledsoe years ago, and Dak Prescott did the same to Tony Romo last season.
I read a whole lot about this confusing tale, but the article Wally Pipp’s Career-Ending ‘Headache’ by Snopes founder David Mikkelson is quite simple a tour de force of the twists and turns in one of our biggest American sports legends that has been told and retold in print and screen. There’s a ton to read including the newspaper clippings and I recommend you do so, but let’s skip to Mikkelson’s conclusion:
After winning three straight American League pennants between 1921-23, the Yankees finished a couple of games off the pace in 1924 as the Washington Senators captured their first flag ever. New York expected to regain the top spot in 1925, but that was the year Babe Ruth’s excesses finally caught up with him.
…With Ruth either missing or too weak to play effectively, and some key players slumping … New York tumbled to a dismal seventh-place finish (in an eight-team league) in 1925. With his team already near the bottom of the standings and eleven games under the .500 mark at the beginning of June, manager Miller Huggins decided to shake up his line-up and replace some of his slumping veterans with younger players. Contemporaneous news accounts leave no doubt that Wally Pipp did not sit out the game on 2 June 1925 with a headache; he was deliberately benched by a manager who had charge of a team that was playing poorly and who opted to sit down some of his older players to give others a try.
In the case of Wally Pipp there was no inopportune headache, no “delightful and romantic story” — just a case of a slumping player who lost his job to an up-and-comer and never got it back. But his replacement was the stuff of legend (the indestructible ballplayer finally felled by a fatal disease), and so he became part of a legend that mixed fact and fiction and grew so large even some of the participants came to believe in its fictional aspects.
Via Mental Floss, Bleacher Report, and Wikipedia, I can report that Pipp was raised in Grand Rapids, was hit in the head with a hockey puck as a child that he attributed his headaches to, and played his first pro baseball for (seriously) the Kalamazoo Celery Champs. Pipp was one of the best first basemen of his era, hitting .281 with 90 HRs, 997 RBI and 1,941 hits. After retiring in 1928, Pipp played the market, wrote some radio scripts and books including as Babe Ruth’s ghostwriter, and did a pregame baseball show for the Detroit Tigers. He worked in a Michigan plant that made B-24 bombers during WWII and worked as a sales exec for the Rockford Screw Products Corporation. Mental floss concludes: Pipp went from playing first for the Yankees to peddling screws and bolts—and he loved it. Armed with the gift of gab and endless baseball stories, Pipp spent the rest of his life selling wares to Detroit’s auto hotshots. He passed away in 1965. (at the age of 71)
Yesterday Kevin tweeted this box score, handwritten 108 years ago from Game 1 of the 1908 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs. The comments are priceless – check them out for such gems you may have missed such as the fact that the Cubs peppered 6 singles in the 9th inning and that both Evers and Chance – two-thirds of one of the best infields ever – both committed errors!
Heavy.com has a great account of the 1908 World Series that includes photos and a recap of each game. SPOILER ALERT: The Cubs won. They do a great job of setting the stage:
The 1908 series, with the Cubs facing the Detroit Tigers — who were led by the greatest hitter of his era, Ty Cobb — was only the fifth World Series ever played between the National League and the upstart American League which had been in existence as a “major” league only since 1901. The NL was formed in 1876.
The great American writer Mark Twain was still alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series, as was the legendary Apache Chief Geronimo, as Sports Illustrated writer Mark Rushin noted in his history of the 1908 World Series. Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still around, and so was former slave and crusading abolitionist Harriet Tubman who, more than a century later, is about to get her face on the U.S. $20 bill.
Movies were still silent, and though radio had been invented about a decade earlier, the first baseball game broadcast in the new medium wouldn’t happen until 1921, 13 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.
PS: Big thanks to Dave Hogg for tweeting this in my general direction!
Over on Absolute Michigan there’s a feature entitled 100 (plus) years at Tiger Stadium. It has a ton of photos and links including this excellent column written four years ago by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports about the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium passing relatively unnoticed:
Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness.
…Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.
Read on for more.
Here’s a great video from PBS’s America’s Ballparks hosted by Jeff Daniels and featuring many Detroit Tigers greats.
More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.