Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22- Detroit Tigers

Throughout the year there is another constant that will come up roughly 35-40 more times; the first assortment I bought were simply on the basis of having one hat per team. Besides the Oakland A’s, the other teams I made an exemption for are the Montreal Expos and the Detroit Tigers. My affinity for the Tigers has been around since the mid-90s. There was always something about their colors and logo that popped. Which is actually kind of funny because they’ve kept the idea of their logo pretty much the same throughout their history; while at the same time, the Old English script is so intricate and detailed that there really wasn’t much of need to switch to anything else. But the more important thing I should probably point out is that when I bought this hat, my intentions of going way back throughout the team’s entire history of hats had never crossed my mind. I was going to stick with the current home and away. So, having explained that, on we move…

The Tigers introduced this hat at the start of the 1983 season and have been using it as their road cap ever since. The previous 10 years had also featured an orange “D” logoed hat, but I will get to that one later down the road. The ’83 season went incredibly well for the Tigers; however, even their 92-70 record under Sparky Anderson wasn’t good enough to get them into the playoffs. As members of the American league East division the Tigers finished six games behind the Baltimore Orioles, who later went on to win the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies. This was also back in the day when each league only had two divisions. The Tigers, not particularly frazzled by their modest success, decided to lay the entire league to waste with their 104-58 record in ’84, also adding a World Series title to their collection after eviscerating the San Diego Padres in five games. That was the first time Kirk Gibson became a postseason legend. Buuuuuuut… it wasn’t good enough to make my cap, a decision I partially regret.

I had purchased the home hat first, and this one well after I had marked the previous. And once again, I need to point out that I marked it with the intention of not getting any other Tigers hats before you judge.

#47- This one won’t get much debate I would imagine. Jack Morris played for the Tigers for almost his entire career. From 1977-1990 he donned the “D”, and became synonymous with some of the great pitchers of the 80s and early 90s. During his 14-year tenure in Detroit he went 198-150 with a 3.73 ERA and 1980 strikeouts. He also served as the ace for all but 1977-78, as he was coming out of bullpen for relief work. Clearly that concept didn’t last too long. I’m not going to go into the Hall of Fame talk too much, but I’ll simply say that the Baseball Writers Association of America is pretty f---ed in the head for keeping him out. Grated, he did only win one World Series ring during his time in Detroit, but went on to win three more (one with the Twins, two with the Blue Jays). I think the saddest thing about Morris is that he never won the Cy Young. His best finish was third, losing out to Steve McCatty (Athletics) in second place and Rollie Fingers (Brewers) in the top spot. Go figure that Morris would get taken down by two guys who had played for the Athletics. Personal victory for me! Sorry Jack.

#20- This one was way more personal for me, but like I said, I did it with the intention of not getting another Tigers hat at the time. One of my all-time favorite players is someone who I never had the chance to see pitch live; however, was able to see video of years later. Mark Fidrych is a guy who I have pretty much idolized since the first time I saw his face grace an old issue of Rolling Stone from 1977, in which he was the first professional athlete to ever grace the cover. Fidrych played from 1976-1980, but was hampered by several injuries in short periods of time: torn knee cartilage, and rotator cuff tear, which he never had looked at or fixed throughout his career. I don’t want to go on too much about him, as I will do that in another post. But one thing I will say is that Fidrych was, and is still one of the most revered pitchers in Tigers history. Anyone who was alive to see him play still recount being at Tiger Stadium when he played in 1976. It was always dead silent when he threw, and a roar of applause when he got off the mound. The Bird, as he was dubbed in Lakeland by coaches because of his uncanny resemblance to Big Bird from Sesame Street, was also one of the most unusual figures in baseball. He’d always fill in the dirt in front of the rubber in between innings and had a carefree attitude wherever he went. Definitely a kind of guy who isn’t too far from myself, personality wise at least.

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