Mickey Lolich Wins Game 7 Of The 1968 World Series – October 10, 1968
ST. LOUIS – Oct. 10 – WORKING ON THE CARDINALS – Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich as he pitches to the St. Louis Cardinals in the final game of the 1968 World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Thursday. (AP WIRE PHOTO)
It had been 23 years since the Tigers had last won the World Series. A Detroit pitcher would play a huge role in the 1968 World Series, but it wasn’t who everyone thought it would be.
The Tigers ace pitcher was Denny McLain who posted an incredible 31-6 record in the regular season. He remains the last pitcher to win 30 or more games in a season. But in the World Series McLain went 1-2, unfortunately going head to head twice with the Cardinals star hurler Bob Gibson and losing both times in games one and four.
Mickey Lolich on the other hand, was a very good pitcher and put up a solid 17-9 regular season record. In the World Series he proved to be unbeatable, pitching three complete game victories, including the exciting finale against Bob Gibson.
The Tigers had been down three games to one in the series, but won games five and six to force a deciding 7th game on October 10, 1968.
With Gibson on three days rest and Lolich on only two, both pitchers matched goose eggs for the first six innings. Gibson was breezing along but after getting two outs in the top of the seventh, Norm Cash and Willie Horton singled and then Jim Northrup hit a long line drive to center.
The usually defensively stellar Curt Flood misjudged the ball, by initially breaking in and then he tried to recover, but it was too late, as he was running back for the ball he slipped on the grass and the ball sailed over his head. Northrup ended up on third with a a two run triple. Catcher Bill Freehan knocked in Northrup with a double and the Tigers tacked on another run in the ninth with three singles.
Lolich put away the Cardinals the rest of the game allowing only a solo home run to Mike Shannon with two outs in the 9th. Lolich proceeded to retire Tim McCarver on a pop-up that Freehan caught in foul territory to clinch a 4-1 victory and a Tiger championship.
Mickey Lolich had snapped Bob Gibson’s seven game World Series winning streak. The last time Gibson had last lost in a World Series was game two of the 1964 World Series against the Yankees and Mel Stottlemyre.
In the 1968 series Gibson was 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA and set a couple of strikeout records which still stand today. For the entire series Gibson mowed down 35 Tigers and in game one Gibson not only shutout the Tigers, but struck out 17 batters. If Gibson had won that seventh game he would have undoubtedly been named the World Series MVP.
However it was Lolich with his 3-0 record, 1.67 ERA and 21 strikeouts that earned him the World Series MVP and his Tigers the championship.
Lolich said after the game, “All my life somebody has been a big star and Lolich was number two. I figured my day would come and this was it.”