Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27- Detroit Tigers

I tried working on this post earlier this afternoon, but for some reason every approach I tried to take with it took me down a dark, narrow road which eventually turned into a cul de sac much like in the movie “Training Day.” Luckily for me I don’t have to worry about Terry Crews and his pigeon army peering down, ready to peck my eyes out. 1994 was a rough year for everyone. The players strike created a dark cloud that hovered over Major League Baseball on into the next few seasons. What’s quite amazing is that it seems to be a prevalent theme in a lot of my posts. While my bitterness over what went down still lingers, one can’t help but think how the history books would be written had the season finished out on the field and not in the courtroom.

By the time the season was officially canceled the Detroit Tigers were in dead last in the old American League Eastern division with a record of 53-62. Even with 47 games left to go in the season, there was very little chance of the Tigers making up the 18 games they had fallen behind. What is even more depressing is that even though they were in last place in their division, had they been in the AL West they would have been in first place by one game over the Texas Rangers. Seeing a statistic as mind boggling as that in comparison to where the team is now almost makes one wonder how much worse things would have gotten collectively throughout the League, with the exception of the New York Yankees and Montreal Expos. But alas, these are the Tigers we’re talking about, and in the 1990s at that.

This particular hat served as the Tigers alternate cap and it was only used for a speckle of games in ‘94. It’s exactly like the traditional road cap, except for the fact that it has an orange bill. I don’t particularly mind this cap, but for some reason the bill creates a weird line of sight for those looking at it. While other teams have had similar caps with the logo and bill being the same color, this cap, on the other hand, is one of the only ones to not feature a different colored border around the logo.

Since this hat was only used for such a bummer of a season, I at least made up for things with some smart choices on my marks.

#11- Sparky Anderson managed the Tigers for 17 years starting in the middle of the 1979 season and ending at the close of the 1995 season. During his run the Tigers had gone 1331-1248 and made the postseason only twice. The thing you have to remember is that prior to 1995 only the best team in each of the two divisions per League moved on into the postseason. Therefore it was a hell of a lot harder to make the playoffs every year. For Sparky to do it twice with a 50 percent success rate on winning a World Series title; sometimes you have to count your blessings. But, the one thing that very few people tend to remember about the ’94 strike is that it continued on into the 1995 season. That’s kind of a rough way for a Hall of Fame manager to go out; not even completing a full season.

Even though I never grew up a Tigers fan I’ve always found them to be one of the most historically alluring franchises, and Sparky played a big part. I mean, look at the guy…

He always looked the same throughout his career, even when he managed the Cincinnati Reds. He was old school baseball wizard, and any fan of them game would have loved to have had him as their grandfather. He passed away at the age of 76 on November 4, 2010 and deep down you knew you were truly saddened by it. Even if you are a Chicago White Sox fan.

#3- If you watch the MLB Network as often as I do, then you’ve probably watched the “Prime 9” episode of Hall of Fame snubs. While I can’t remember where Alan Trammell fell on that list, you’d better believe that I’m totally 100 percent on board to get him into the Hall. Trammell was a second round draft pick for the Tigers back in 1976 out of Kearny High School in San Diego, California. He made is debut in 1977 and actually wore the #42 for all 19 games he appeared in. By the time 1978 rolled around Trammell got himself a new number and took charge at the plate hitting .284 with two home runs and 34 RBI which were good enough for a fourth place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. In his 20-year career, all of which was played in Detroit, he amassed four Gold Gloves in five years from 1980-1984 (Robin Yount hosed him in 1982), but Trammell was mostly known for his offensive prowess. For his career he hit an impressive .285 with a modest 185 home runs and 1003 RBI. His best year came in 1987 when he finished in second place for the AL MVP when he went .343/28/103, all of which were career highs, but he got beat out by Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Bell.

Trammel called it quits after the 1996 season and even took up the managerial spot for the Tigers from 2003-2005 with very poor success. Throughout his career he made six All-Star Game appearances, won three Silver Slugger awards, had two 20+-game hit streaks and most important, was the World Series MVP in 1984. Most people tend to think that it was Kirk Gibson who won it on account of his first of two historic game-winning World Series home runs. Nope! It was Trammell, who hit .450 with two home runs and six RBI. Boom!

#45- From 1990- halfway through 1996 Cecil Fielder was arguably one of the top power hitter is the game, ad he did all of his swatting in the Motor City. In his first two years with the Tigers Fielder finished in second place for the AL MVP award, losing to Rickey Henderson in 1990 and Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1991. Fielder’s numbers those years?

1990: .277 average with a League leading 51 home runs and League leading 132 RBI. He also struck out a League high 182 times that season.

1991: .261 with a League high 44 home runs and a League leading 133 RBI. He improved on the strikeouts, but not by much.

Those two years plus 1993 were the only three years in which Fielder made the All-Star game as well. The strange thing about Fielder is that he never hit more than 14 home runs in any of the four years he played with the Blue Jays prior to going to Detroit, and he never hit more than 17 in any year after he left Detroit. The only obvious conclusion I can come up with… Tiger Stadium was one hell of an easy place to knock the crap out of the ball.

I realize I didn’t focus too much attention on the 1994 aspect of the hat, but what else was there really to say. All three of these guys were present in the old days of Tigers suckfest, but all of them were truly legends before and during that era. I guess the only way I can end this is by saying “Robocop” is a damn fine move, and even Clarence Boddicker, a Tigers season ticket holder, would approve of this post.


  1. Great job. The 94 season was one in a string of 13 consecutive losing seasons, 93-05. Jim Leyland took over in 2006 and took the Tigers to the World Series. I never blamed Trammell, he did his best.

    I got a new Tigers cap, a 1908 Cooperstown Collection, a late birthday gift. I wish I'd kept all my different Tigers caps over the years, especially the one's I had as a kid.

    Look forward to your next post.

    1. That 1908 cap is very high on my "must have" list, but then again, every Tigers hat is on that list.

      I'm still debating on when my next Tigers post will be. Going back and forth between April 13 and April 20 as it will be all about the life and times of Mark Fidrych. Both of those dates are important, and really sad that they're only a week apart.