Mickey Lolich – Hero Of The 1968 World Series

Mickey Lolich Wins Game 7 Of The 1968 World Series – October 10, 1968

Mickey Lolich Oct 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.”

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8 thoughts on “Mickey Lolich – Hero Of The 1968 World Series

  1. Larry Weisenthal

    Great recollection. Greatest pitching performance in World Series history. 3 complete game wins; the last on two days rest against one of the most dominating pitchers in the history of the game. It will never be done again.

    Reply
  2. JBF

    One of my great memories from childhood. Listening to little hand held radio at recess. Well written remembrance. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. RCB

    It is amazing to me that I rarely hear any mention of Mickey Lolich’s incredible performance. I actually read an article by a Sports Illustrated writer that ranked Madison Bumgarner’s 2 wins and a save performance in 2014 as the 5th best World Series performance with no mention of Lolich. Tragic

    Reply
  4. Gordon Grant

    Me too. I ran home after school having been kicked in the side of tbe foot playing soccer at recess and it was blown up like a balloon. I could barely walk, but I was running home to see tbe rest of the game. It was incredible.

    Reply
  5. William

    You cannot compare today’s pitchers , and today’s athletes in general to the players back then . Pitchers went the distance , pitched 200 to 300 innings regularly. Complete games were the rule not the exception. Bob Gibson pitched 8 World Series games all complete with an era under 3.00 and 92 strikeouts. People talk of Lolich and his amazing performance, but Gibson also won 3 games the year before vs the Red Sox and Jim Lonborg in game 7 the year before , 67 series as well as beating the Yankees in game 7 in 64 .Mickey Lolich 68 performance is right up there . The closest series domination by a pitcher in the modern times I thought was Josh Beckett in the 2003 series . Unfortunately the modern athletes are always going to get the nod by the critics / media because the people around now for the most part never saw these past athletes play . It’s why all we ever hear is about Tom Brady being the best QB ever , and Lebron James in basketball. Memories fade and people forget that Joe Montana was 4 and 0 in Super Bowls and Michael Jordan 6 and 0 in NBA finals . The media always has to perpetuate the myth that current always must be better than the past despite evidence to the contrary. Not only that . How about Bart Starr and his 5 NFL titles in the 60s and Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles in 13 years with the Celtics . Never even a mention for those greats . It’s as though they never played . The way athletes from the past are disrespected is deplorable.

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  6. William

    Also if Lou Brock had slid instead of trying to score standing up in game 5 and Curt Flood hadn’t misjudged that fly ball then stumbled in game 7 that 68 series could have turned out much different. Mike Shannons 9 th inning homer in game 7 would have been a 1 0 game winner . Gibson would have been MVP two years in a row and 3 times overall . Amazing that two blunders by two all time greats altered the course of baseball history.

    Reply
    1. Richard Black

      I don’t know if it altered the course of baseball history. But they affected the outcome of this World Series? Sure. Which, clearly, is baseball history.

      We tend to remember the things such as you mention and not the smaller, less-dramatic but equally decisive plays that are not recalled because they are not *spectacular*.

      Reply
  7. Bunnie Daniels

    I have a Mickey stacks the cards 1968 world series trivia card is it worth anything? It tells about the spectacular pitching by Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson. Please contact me if you are interested bnndaniels@gmail.com.

    Reply

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