Editor’s note: The Major League Baseball season isn’t starting soon, so to give area fans their fix, we’ve been looking back at the 1984 Detroit Tigers’ championship season.
At 52-18, the Detroit Tigers were in pretty good shape as June was nearing a close during the 1984 season. The Tigers had completed 24 of 27 straight games against American League East teams, which included seven games against the defending World Champion Baltimore Orioles and another seven with second-place competitors, the Toronto Blue Jays. All that remained of that stretch was a three-game road trip to New York.
When a team is 52-18, it makes people want to associate with that squad, and that’s what happened. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson was joined by Tigers’ announcers George Kell and Ernie Harwell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, stopping activity for a short time as traders asked for autographs. Anderson’s name was put up in lights as well.
While on the trip, Anderson was quoted as saying, “This is the best bunch of guys I’ve ever been around. I don’t worry about anybody ever doing anything silly on the plane or the bus. We’ve got no bad people on this club.”
The New York trip didn’t go as the Tigers hoped on the field, with Detroit losing the first and third games against the Yankees, but something positive did happen during the series. The Tigers won the second game 9-7 in 10 innings.
The game the Tigers did win was a thriller. Lance Parrish hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning, earning the Tigers the victory. The Tigers led at one time 4-0, but New York eventually took a 7-4 lead entering the eighth inning. The Tigers forced extra innings with three runs in the top of the eighth inning. Alan Trammell hit a two-run single and Darrell Evans hit a pinch-hit RBI-single, tying the contest at 7-all. Willie Hernandez pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, doing so by allowing no runs and just one hit. With the victory, the Tigers’ lead grew to 10 games for the first time during the season. Even with the 5-4 loss in the final game of the series, the lead remained 10 games.
Continued at tctimes.COM
The Tigers had just three games left in June — three at home against the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers would win two of the three games. The teams split a doubleheader on June 29 and the Tigers won the series with a 4-3 victory on June 30. Dan Petry pitched 8 1/3 innings and earned the victory. Meanwhile, with Detroit down 3-2, Ruppert Jones hit a sacrifice fly, tying the game. The winning run was scored on a wild pitch. Hernandez got the final two outs to earn his 14th save.
It was June’s final game and the Tigers were now 55-21, 10 games ahead of the Blue Jays and 13 ahead of the Orioles. The Tigers were leading the American League in batting average, runs scored, earned run average and fewest runs allowed. They finished the month with an 18-12 record. Basically, they were clearly baseball’s best team and it didn’t look like anyone could catch them.