Tag Archives: Detroit Tigers

1945 Cubs Sluggers and A 1948 Indians Championship

The Last Time:

Cubs In World Series, 1945; Indians Were World Champions, 1948

Cubs May Have Had Sluggers, But They Still Lost to Tigers in ’45; Indians Prevailed Over Braves in ’48

1945 Cubs Sluggers: Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

1945 Cubs Sluggers: (l-r) Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

The news photograph above was captioned “1945 Cubs Sluggers.” That may be a bit of a misnomer as Harry “Peanuts” Lowery hit seven home runs in 143 games, the most he ever hit in his 13 year career.

Frank Secory hit no homers in 35 games. Bill “Swish” Nicholson, the only true slugger in this photograph led the National League in homers in 1943 and 1944 with 29 and 33 home runs respectively. In 1945 Nicholson led the Cubs with a mere 13 home runs in 151 games. Andy Pafko hit 12 home runs and drove in 110 runs in 144 games. And Ed Sauer had two homers in 49 games.

As a team the 1945 Cubs hit only 57 home runs. On the other hand their pitchers allowed only 57 home runs.

In the closely contested World Series, none of the “Cubs sluggers” hit a home run. National League MVP Phil Caverretta hit the only homer and led the Cubs with a .423 batting average.

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Before game 4 of the World Series began, this photo was taken. The caption reads: Continue reading

These Are The World Champion 1908 Chicago Cubs

Players on the 1908 World Champion Chicago Cubs In High Definition Photographs

Joe Tinker Second Baseman of the 1908 Chicago Cubs

Joe Tinker, Shortstop 1908 Chicago Cubs

For the moment it seems all of America is talking about the Chicago Cubs. As everyone now knows it has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series four games to one against the Detroit Tigers.

But what do you know of the 1908 Cubs team?

Maybe you’ve heard of Tinker to Evers to Chance the famous Cubs double play combination immortalized in a newspaper poem by the once legendary Franklin P. Adams. It should be noted that off the field Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers refused to speak to one another. Besides the trio of Cubs Hall-of Famers, you probably know little of the 1908 Cubbies.

Johnny Kling, Catcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Kling, Catcher 1908 Chicago Cubs (check out that bat!)

The 1908 Cubs are comprised of forgotten names. Their achievements are just dusty remnants that reside only in the record books. There is no one alive today who actually saw the 1908 Chicago Cubs play.

They were a hardened lot, these players. They usually had to work at other jobs in the off-season. It was a time when baseball players scrambled for a job on one of 16 ball clubs. They had to be constantly looking over their shoulder because there was always some youngster trying to take their $2,000 a year baseball job.

At least we can see what they looked like. We’re bringing the Chicago Cubs of 1908 back to you in high definition photographs. All photographs are from the Library of Congress and can be clicked on for enlargement in great detail.

With their heavy flannel uniforms, small fingered gloves, heavy bats and grizzled looks, here are some of the 1908 Chicago Cubs:

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, really only had three fingers, his index finger was a stump that was the result of catching his hand in a corn shredder when he was seven-years-old. That accident gave Brown an odd spin on his fastball which confounded hitters. He won 239 games while losing only 130 in his career. His ERA was 2.06, the third lowest in history for pitchers with over 2,000 innings.

In the 1908 World Series Brown was one of two star pitchers, winning two games against the Detroit Tigers. Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.

Orval Overall Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Orval Overall Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

You would think anyone named Orval Overall would be remembered just because of his name. A short career doomed Orval to obscurity despite a 108-71 lifetime record with a 2.23 ERA. There was no Tommy John surgery when Overall hurt his arm and his career was over in 1913 at age 32.  Overall won the other two games for the Cubs in the 1908 World Series.

Johnny Evers Shortstop 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Evers Second Baseman 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Evers was considered one of the scrappiest and smartest players to ever play the game. Evers batted .300 in 1908 and .350 in the World Series. If you enlarge the photograph you will see a man who had lived quite a bit. This photograph of Evers is from 1913 when he was only 32. Continue reading

The End Of Baseball’s Take-Out Slide?

Mickey Mantle Breaks Up A Double Play – 1961

Is The Take-Out Slide About To Be Made Illegal?

Mickey Mantle Breaking up double play May 13 1961New York – May 13 – ON THE DOUBLE – Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees is force out victim at second base and Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Chico Fernandez gets off throw to first to complete double play in fourth inning at New York’s Yankee Stadium today. Behind Mantle is Tigers second baseman Jake Wood, who fielded Bill Skowron’s grounder and started the twin killing by tossing to Fernande. Tigers won 8-3 (AP Wirephoto – 1961)

This is a play you may never see again.

Mickey Mantle is nowhere near second base and certainly does not look like he is sliding. No, the Mick is definitely trying to take out Chico Fernandez and stop a double play. It was a legal play in 1961, but soon it may not be.

After the 2015 playoff injury to the Mets Ruben Tejada when the Dodgers Chase Utley steamrolled him in a violent collision, Major League Baseball decided to review the rules governing taking out a fielder during a slide. There is a strong possibility of introducing a rule in the near future to stop a runner from barreling into a fielder.

There is already a rule in the books, Rule 5.09(a)(13), which states:

A batter is out when — A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play.  Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

I don’t believe that any player should intentionally hurt another player in sliding, but taking out the fielder who is trying to complete a double play should not be made illegal or penalized with the threat of suspension if the fielder gets hurt. Continue reading

The Strikeout: The Rise and Acceptance of Baseball’s Unproductive Out

Hitters Never Used To Strikeout Like This

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

We are not even at the end of June and yesterday I read that the Astros Chris Carter had struck out 102 times so far this season. Carter is batting .198 with 13 home runs. The Astros as a team have struck out 728 times.

Those statistics are appalling and yet no one in baseball circles talks about it. Had they been playing thirty or more years ago players like Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds and the recently retired Adam Dunn most likely would not have been on a major league roster. Hitting thirty or more home runs, and batting .220 or under and striking out around one third of your plate appearances would have insured that you would not be around the big leagues very long.

But those days are over. Apparently there is no shame in striking out consistently if you can hit a few homers. Many teams apparently covet these one dimensional players and give them big contracts if they can hit some dingers.

The 1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers from left to right Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen. They combined for 173 strikeouts.

1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers (l to r) Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg & Marv Owen. They combined for 173 of the team’s 453 strikeouts.

Contrast today’s strikeout numbers with baseball’s glory days and the statistics are startling. For instance, the 1935 Detroit Tigers hitters had 453 strikeouts in total.

Almost every starting player on the team had more walks than strikeouts.

Even the Tigers pitchers only struck out a combined 84 times in 549 plate appearances.

Tigers 1935 stats via baseball-reference.com Hank Greenberg led the team with 91 strikeouts, while hitting 36 home runs and driving in an astounding 168 runs. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .319 and struck out a total of only 15 times. Continue reading

It’s Time For Day Baseball Games To Return To The World Series

It’s Been 30 Years Since The Last Outdoor, Daytime World Series Game Was Played – Who’s to Blame? MLB, FOX & “TV Research People”

World Series baseball the way it used to be played - during the daytime. Pirates center fielder Bill Virdon awaits the first pitch from Yankees ace Whitey Ford to begin game 3 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, October 8, 1960.

World Series baseball the way it used to be played – during the day. Pirates center fielder Bill Virdon awaits the first pitch from Yankees ace Whitey Ford to begin game 3 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, October 8, 1960.

30 years ago on October 14, 1984 the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres played game 5 of the World Series at Tigers Stadium under what used to be normal circumstances – they played a day game.

Three years later in 1987 the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals also played a day game in the World Series, but you would not have known it because the Twins played their home games indoors at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Since then, every World Series game has been played at night. Continue reading

The Moment Lou Gehrig Stepped Down “For The Good Of The Team”

The Story Of The End Of Lou Gehrig’s Consecutive Game Streak – May 2, 1939

Yankee captain Lou Gehrig stuns Tigers manager Del Baker, home plate umpire Steve Basil and umpires Red Ornsby and Bill Summers as Gehrig informs them he has benched himself.

Yankee captain Lou Gehrig stuns Tigers manager Del Baker, home plate umpire Steve Basil and umpires Red Ornsby and Bill Summers as Gehrig informs them he has benched himself. (photo AP)

Almost everyone knows something about Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, and his consecutive game playing streak. But you’ve probably never seen the dreaded moment when Gehrig took himself out of the lineup ending his streak, except by seeing actor Gary Cooper do it in the famous 1942 movie The Pride of the Yankees.

This photograph above shows that actual moment that occurred 75 years ago today.

Since June 1, 1925 Lou Gehrig had appeared in 2,130 straight games over the past fourteen seasons with the Yankees. Gehrig played with sprains, concussions, back spasms, broken bones and illnesses that would have had a lesser man take at least a day off, go on the disabled list or convalesce in a hospital. But Gehrig didn’t just play. He played exceptionally, putting up outstanding numbers offensively and defensively while always conducting himself with grace and humility on and off the field.

So on Tuesday, May 2, 1939 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, nothing seemed out of the ordinary when Yankee captain Lou Gehrig came to home plate to deliver the starting lineup card.

But earlier in the locker room in a private talk, Gehrig informed Yankees manager Joe McCarthy that he was removing himself from the lineup because he “wasn’t doing the team any good.” McCarthy asked him if he was serious and Gehrig replied that he was. McCarthy then told Gehrig it would be as he wished.

Gehrig approached the plate and handed the lineup card without his name on it to home plate umpire Steve Basil and Tigers manager Del Baker. On the photo, you can see the shock and disbelief on the faces of the men gathered around Gehrig whose expression is one of complete dismay.

The thunderbolt news raced through both teams, then around the stadium and finally throughout the baseball world through the newswires that Lou Gehrig had taken himself out of the lineup and was ending his famous streak.

When the announcement was made over the public address system to the 11,379 fans in attendance of Gehrig’s voluntary withdrawal, it was suggested that he get a “a big hand.”

The New York Times reported a deafening cheer resounded as Lou walked to the dugout, doffed his cap and disappeared in a corner of the bench.

Lou Gehrig consoles  Babe Dahlgren about replacing Gehrig in the Yankees line-up, May 2 1939

Lou Gehrig consoles Babe Dahlgren about replacing Gehrig in the Yankees line-up, May 2 1939

Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren who had waited since 1937 to start at first base for the Yankees, finally, but reluctantly got his chance. “I hated to break his streak,” said Dahlgren.

”I remember Lou taking the lineup card up to the plate that day. When he came back to the dugout he went over to the water fountain and took a drink. He started to cry. Lou stood there with a towel on his head, taking the longest drink I’ve ever seen anybody take.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Baseball In A Blizzard – The Detroit Tigers 1911 Snow Game

Snow Doesn’t Stop A Tiger Victory 

In the old days of baseball when there were fewer games and no playoff rounds, the baseball season started in mid-April. In part, the later start date was to try and prevent what happened to the Tigers on Saturday, April 15, 1911. The Tigers were playing their third game of the year at their home field, Bennett Park, against the Chicago White Sox on what started out as a cold and raw day.

One sportswriter said the game was played  in “conditions that were unprecedented.”

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

The snow started to fall in the top of the sixth.  The White Sox had an opportunity to break a scoreless tie when Patsy Dougherty led off the sixth inning with a solid triple. Continue reading

Ty Cobb In Chicago At Southside Park – 1907 And 1908

The “Georgia Peach” Ty Cobb, Plays In The Windy City

Ty Cobb 1907 Southside Park Chicago Daily News

I wonder if baseball fans recognize greatness early on in a player’s career? Ty Cobb started his major league career with the Detroit Tigers in 1905 and had his first breakout season in 1907 at the age of 20 when he led the American League in hits, stolen bases, RBI’s and a .350 batting average.  The photograph above is from 1907, taken at Southside Park in Chicago, home to the White Sox from 1900-1910. So did the fans in Chicago realize they were watching a player who would electrify baseball for the next twenty years?

One thing you notice by looking at Ty Cobb is that he had a unique batting stance. His legs and feet would many times be planted way ahead of home plate and his hands spread apart on the bat. It enabled him to spray balls all over the field and get to the pitch before it could do what the pitcher wanted it to. He hit .366, the highest career batting average ever by a major leaguer.

Ty Cobb 1908 Southside Park Chicago Daily News

Here Cobb plays against the White Sox in 1908 at Southside Park in front of a packed house.  Once again notice how far ahead Cobb is standing in front of the plate. One criticism of Cobb besides his nasty disposition, was that he didn’t hit a lot of home runs like Babe Ruth. Cobb bristled at that comparison, saying anyone could hit home runs, it took talent to be a spray hitter like he was.

On May 5, 1925 visiting St. Louis against the Browns, Cobb told a reporter in the dugout that “today for the first time my career I’m going to go for home runs.” The comment is apocryphal, but that day Cobb went six for six.  Home runs? He hit three.

Lou Sleater, Detroit Tigers 1957

Getting Ready For The Game

Lou Sleater turns 86 on September 8, 2012. The St. Louis native pitched for some very bad teams such as the Browns, Senators and Athletics during a major league career which stretched intermittently from 1950 until 1958. His career record was 12-18.

In this photograph, Sleater is warming up before a game at a virtually empty Tiger Stadium in May of 1957 when he was with Detroit.

One personal highlight in his career came on May 30, 1957. Sleater pitched an inning of  scoreless relief in the top of the tenth in a 5-5 game. Leading off the bottom of the tenth, Sleater had a count of two and one when he hit his first major league home run into the right field stands at Tiger Stadium to win the game 6-5 over the Kansas City Athletics. He would go on to hit two more home runs that year and bat .250. Not bad for a relief pitcher.

Happy birthday Lou.

UPDATE 4/10/13 – Lou Sleater passed away at the age of 86 at his home in Timonium, MD on March 25, 2013 from lung disease.