1968 World Series
The 1968 World Series featured the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, with the Tigers winning in 7 games for their first championship since 1945, and the third in their history. The Tigers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win three in a row, largely on the arm of MVP Mickey Lolich, who won three complete games in a single World Series, a feat that has not been duplicated since. In his third appearance in the Series, Lolich had to pitch after only two days' rest in the deciding Game 7, because regular-season 31-game winner Denny McLain had proven ineffective in the postseason. In Game 5, the Tigers' hopes for the title would have been very much in jeopardy had Bill Freehan not tagged out Lou Brock in a home plate collision.
The narrow win for the Tigers was due, in small part, to a bold gamble by Manager Mayo Smith. The Tigers rotated four good-hitting outfielders during the season (Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Al Kaline, and Jim Northrup); in an effort to get all four into the lineup in the World Series, Smith moved center fielder Stanley to shortstop (replacing Ray Oyler, who batted .135 during the season) even though he had never played there in his minor or major league career. The gamble paid off as Kaline, Northrup, and Horton had a good series at the plate while Stanley made only two insignificant errors.
1968 was tagged "The Year of the Pitcher", and fittingly the Series featured dominant performances from Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, MVP of the 1964 World Series and 1967 World Series. Gibson came into the Series with a stunning regular-season Earned Run Average of just 1.12, and he pitched complete games in Games 1, 4, and 7. He was the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4. In Game 1, he threw a shutout, striking out 17 batters, besting Sandy Koufax's 1963 record by 2, and a total which still stands as the World Series record. In Game 4, a solo home run by Jim Northrup was the only offense the Tigers were able to muster, as Gibson struck out 10 batters. In Game 7, Gibson was defeated by series MVP Mickey Lolich, allowing three runs on four straight hits in the decisive 7th inning, although the key play was a triple that was seemingly misplayed by Curt Flood in center field which could have been the third out with no runs scoring.
The Series saw the Cardinals lose a Game 7 for the first time in their history. The Tigers were the third team to come back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to win a best-of-7 World Series, the first two being the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1958 New York Yankees. Later, the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, and 1985 Kansas City Royals would accomplish this feat.
The two teams would meet again in the 2006 World Series. The Cardinals once again raced to a 3 games to 1 lead, but didn't relinquish it as they captured the championship in five games. That would give the Cardinals the "rubber match" , as they had won the first encounter between the two teams, in the 1934 World Series.
This was the last World Series before Divisional Play. In his book about the history of the World Series, historian Lee Allen made the point that it was the last "pure" Series in the sense that divisional play would raise the possibility that the team with the best record from one or both leagues might not get into the Series, which has proven to be an accurate prediction (both teams in 2006, for example).
MVP: Mickey Lolich (Detroit)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Tigers – 0, Cardinals – 4||October 2||Busch Memorial Stadium||54,692||2:29|
|2||Cardinals – 1, Tigers – 8||October 3||Busch Memorial Stadium||54,692||2:41|
|3||Tigers – 3, Cardinals – 7||October 5||Tiger Stadium||53,634||3:17|
|4||Tigers – 1, Cardinals – 10||October 6||Tiger Stadium||53,634||2:34|
|5||Tigers – 5, Cardinals – 3||October 7||Tiger Stadium||53,634||2:43|
|6||Cardinals – 1, Tigers – 13||October 9||Busch Memorial Stadium||54,692||2:26|
|7||Cardinals – 1, Tigers – 4||October 10||Busch Memorial Stadium||54,692||2:07|
|W: Bob Gibson (1-0) L: Denny McLain (0-1)|
|HR: STL – Lou Brock (1)|
|W: Mickey Lolich (1-0) L: Nelson Briles (0-1)|
|HR: DET – Willie Horton (1), Mickey Lolich (1), Norm Cash (1)|
|W: Ray Washburn (1-0) L: Earl Wilson (0-1)|
|HR: STL – Tim McCarver (1), Orlando Cepeda (1) DET – Al Kaline (1), Dick McAuliffe (1)|
|W: Bob Gibson (2-0) L: Denny McLain (0-2)|
|HR: STL – Lou Brock (2), Bob Gibson (1) DET – Jim Northrup (1)|
|W: Mickey Lolich (2-0) L: Joe Hoerner (0-1)|
|HR: STL – Orlando Cepeda (2)|
|W: Denny McLain (1-2) L: Ray Washburn (1-1)|
|HR: DET – Jim Northrup (2), Al Kaline (2)|
|W: Mickey Lolich (3-0) L: Bob Gibson (2-1)|
|HR: STL – Mike Shannon (1)|
Quote of the series
*"Its a happy bunch of Tigers!" - Curt Gowdy describing the scene among the Tigers.
*"If Flood hadn't slipped and fallen on that triple by Northrup they might still be playing." - Ernie Harwell describing the key mistake in Game 7
|St. Louis Cardinals||5||0||2||5||4||1||4||4||2||27||61||2|
|Total Attendance: 379,670 Average Attendance: 54,239|
|Winning Player’s Share: – $10,937 Losing Player’s Share – $7,079|
- Doug Feldmann: El Birdos: The 1967 and 1968 St. Louis Cardinals, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
- Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Sock it to 'em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, Maple Street Press LLC, Hanover, MA, 2008.
- Tim Wendel: Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball, and America, Forever, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2012.
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series