Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan at Yankee Stadium 1969
Before Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was no question as to who was the best catcher in the American League. It was the Detroit Tigers Bill Freehan.
I won’t recount Freehan’s excellent baseball career or personal story in too much detail here. Freehan told it himself while at the height of his playing days in a little known autobiography.
Freehan’s terrific 1970 book, Behind The Mask: An Inside Baseball Diary (World Publishing) was written with editors Dick Schaap and Steve Gelman and was quickly forgotten.
It is one of the best books ever written about the nuances of baseball. Behind The Mask was overshadowed because it came out the same year as ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s explosive tell-all Ball Four. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →