Detroit Tigers: Once-In-A-Lifetime Home Runs
Honorable Mention: Mickey Lolich
All of the aforementioned home runs happened in regular season games. This next one didn’t, but it’s too cool to omit. Mickey Lolich chose the biggest stage of all to take his only big-league home run trot.
In Game 2 of the 1968 World Series, the Tigers were looking to bounce back from a grueling 4-0 loss at the hands of St. Louis Cardinals strikeout machine Bob Gibson in Game 1. Willie Horton gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with a home run in the top of the second. Lolich, who was fighting a groin infection that had him feeling groggy before the game, tossed a pair of shutout innings before he took his first turn at bat with one out in the top of the third.
Lolich is rightfully remembered as an excellent left-handed pitcher, but it may surprise some to learn that he was actually a switch-hitter during his career. This time up, though, he was batting as a righty against right-handed pitcher Nelson Briles. Armed with teammate Al Kaline’s bat, Lolich stunned everyone with a drive that soared high and deep to left field in Busch Memorial Stadium. It was gone. Lolich said,
"“I knew I hit it good. I saw the left fielder go back and then stop and look up, and then I heard the crowd roar. Just then, I stepped over first base. I had to go back and touch it. (The pitch) was a high fastball around my eyes. I had two strikes on me, and I just tomahawked at it to get it off me. I was shocked. I never hit a home run in professional baseball in my life. Everyone in the dugout was shocked too. They started agitating Earl Wilson, because he’s our home run hitting pitcher.”"
His bomb gave the AL champs a 2-0 lead. He wouldn’t need any more run support that afternoon, but he got it anyway. The Tigers were 8-1 victors, and Lolich picked up the first of his three wins over the Cardinals. The Series moved on to Detroit for Game 3. Lolich was greeted like a conquering hero by an estimated 3,000 fans who were waiting for the Tigers’ chartered jet to arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
To this day, Lolich is still the only Detroit Tigers pitcher to hit a home run in World Series play.