In honor of tonight’s ceremony praising the 30th anniversary of the last baseball championship in our town, Motor City Bengals looks at some of the best stories from over the weekend discussing the 1984 Detroit Tigers.
“Gibson could have come to this reunion. The Diamondbacks have an off day Monday, something the Tigers calculated in the reunion date. Gibson’s bench coach, former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, will attend. But Gibson decided last week to stay with his current team, which is struggling. Also missing will be stars like Jack Morris, Lance Parrish and Larry Herndon. Expected to attend with Rozema and Trammell are Lou Whitaker, Darrell Evans, Rod Allen, Doug Bair, Doug Baker, Juan Berenguer, Tom Brookens, Barbaro Garbey, John Grubb, Dan Petry and Dave Bergman.”
It’s a shame Gibby won’t be able to make it, but with his job hanging by a thread, it’s not surprising.
’84 Tigers will miss Sparky at Monday’s reunion – Steve Kornacki, Fox Sports Detroit
“Oh, he will be there,” Bergman said. “Trust me. He’ll be there. I’m looking at a picture of him in my office right now. He’s with me in spirit every day, and he will be there in that way with all of us on Monday.”
They can still picture Anderson boarding the team bus with his white hair slicked back and a wide smile creasing his face. Or they remember walking into his cramped office at Tiger Stadium, finding him smoking a pipe and perusing statistics spread across his big wooden desk.
“Oh, yeah,” said All-Star shortstop Alan Trammell, now a coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. “He will be there. And we’ll be smiling thinking about him. Five years ago, we all said this might be the last time we see him together. And it was. We cherish that.”
When he was hired by the Tigers mid-year 1979, Sparky told the press that his team would win the pennant within five years. Exactly five years later, the Tigers won the American League pennant and went on to win the World Series.
As we celebrate the 1984 Detroit Tigers, we wonder why no dynasty? – Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press
So back to the original question: Why didn’t that team win it all again? Certainly, there is no one single answer. There are all the obvious reasons and clichés: It proves how hard it is to win in baseball, to build a winning roster and to stay at the top.
“I’ll tell you what, the Toronto Blue Jays at the time were no pushover,” Whitaker said.
In 1985, Toronto won the American League East with 99 victories, 15 games ahead of the third-place Tigers. Hernandez was no longer invincible. He had 40 save opportunities in 1985 and blew nine. And Trammell hit .314 in ’84 but slumped in ’85 (.258).
“A lot of people had career years in ’84,” Petry said, “but after that, there was some falloff, whether it was some guys leaving or the seasons they had.”
This is an excellent article looking at why that team fell apart so quickly. Injuries, coaching defections, and the team just being cheap at the time had a lot to do with it. With a little more front office savvy, the team could have also won the World Series in 1987 and 1988, but they let the core of the ’84 team leave and/or age. Though it’s not mentioned in this article, the one and only title for that team might be a reason that so many of those players continue to get screwed over for the Hall-of-Fame.
’84 Tigers remember Tiger Stadium – Kornacki
Starting pitcher Jack Morris: “I think it would be nice to remember it by showing a lot of video highlights on the scoreboard. This (Comerica) park is so much better than it was. But that was the place where Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer and Al Kaline played. It was a special place.”
Shortstop Alan Trammell: “If it happened, it would be great. But it’s not there anymore. So, there would be a lot of visualization. I can close my eyes, open them, and remember those experiences. They’re still mowing the lawn, and the flag pole’s still there. But the most important thing is that the memories are still there, and they will be there forever.”
I have always had the distinct impression that the Tigers are a bit hesitant to honor Tiger Stadium. The stadium, or variations of it, was the team’s home from 1912 to 1999 (and on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull for 103 years), but they never seem to acknowledge it. Perhaps that was because there was such a concerted effort to save it, perhaps not to take away from the numerous (but different) charms of Comerica Park, or perhaps because the team turned a blind eye to its decay for so very long. Hopefully the Tigers will do the right thing and honor the entire history of the 1984 team, including their home.