The Detroit Tigers had a great chance to make it back to the World Series just four short years after winning it all in 1968. They squared off against the Oakland A’s in the ALCS in 1972, a heartbreaking series that saw the Tigers lose 2-1 in the deciding game five.
The reason they even made it to game five was thanks to starting pitcher Joe Coleman, who spun an absolute gem in game three.
The Tigers went down quickly 0-2 in the best of five series. They headed back to Tigers Stadium, knowing that they would have to win all three games in a row in order to advance to the World Series. Game three was a matchup between right-hander Joe Coleman of the Tigers and left-hander Ken Holtzman of the A’s. Holtzman had gone 19-11 with a 2.51 ERA and his first All-Star appearance in 1972.
Coleman had a similar season, going 19-14 with a 2.80 ERA and his first (and only) All-Star appearance as well. It promised to be a showdown of two great pitchers.
The Tigers managed to get to Coleman early, with first baseman Ike Brown plating two with a single in the fourth inning. That was all Coleman would need, as he went on to have the game of his career against a solid Oakland lineup.
Coleman threw a complete game shutout. While he surrendered seven hits and walked three, he also struck out 14. He held future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson to an 0-4 night, not an easy task in the 1970’s.
The Tigers won game four but eventually succumbed to A’s ace Blue Moon Odom in game five. Coleman went on to post a 142-135 record in his 15 year career, with a 3.70 ERA and 18 career shutouts. None quite as epic as the one in Game Three.