1984 Detroit Tigers
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1984 Detroit Tigers / Franchise: Detroit Tigers / BR Team Page
World Series Champs
Managed by Sparky Anderson
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1984 Detroit Tigers began the season by winning nine straight games and 35 of their first 40, still the best 40-game start in Major League history. Nineteen-game winner Jack Morris highlighted the team's fast start by no-hitting the Chicago White Sox, 4-0, on April 7th. The Tigers, despite a somewhat lackluster July and August, coasted to victory in the AL East by 15 games over the second place Toronto Blue Jays. The Tiger bats led the American League in runs scored, home runs, and OBP, while the pitching staff had the league's best ERA and WHIP. Reliever Willie Hernandez won both the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award.
The Tigers starting staff was led by Morris, 25-year old Dan Petry (18 wins, 3.24 ERA), and veteran Milt Wilcox (17 wins). The bullpen, led by Hernandez, Aurelio Lopez and Doug Bair, was arguably the best in the American League. Offensively, the Tigers were led by long-time double play combination Lou Whitaker (.357 OBP in the leadoff spot) and Alan Trammell (.851 OPS at SS), rising star Kirk Gibson (27 HRs, 10 triples, 29 SB), and cleanup hitter Lance Parrish (33 HRs, 98 RBI), along with veteran slugger Darrell Evans, defensive standout Chet Lemon in CF, and veteran Larry Herndon in LF.
The Tigers swept the overmatched Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, but it wasn't easy. After taking the opener, the Tigers squandered a 3-0 lead in Game 2 before winning, 5-3, in 12 innings. Detroit then clinched the series only after edging the Royals, 1-0, in Game 3, thanks mostly to the strong pitching of Wilcox (two hits allowed over eight innings).
The Tigers were heavily favored to dispatch the relatively weak National League champion San Diego Padres in the World Series and did so, 4-1, but the Padres did manage to make things interesting. After the Tigers took a tight 3-2 victory in Game 1 behind Morris, the Padres managed to even the series with a 5-3 victory thanks to unlikely hero Kurt Bevacqua's three-run homer off Petry. With the series shifting to Detroit, the Tigers took control with a 5-2 Game 3 victory behind more excellent pitching from Wilcox. In Game 4, a pair of two-run homers by Trammell (both times driving in Whitaker) propelled Detroit to a 4-2 victory and a 3-1 series lead.
In Game 5, the Tigers were clinging to a 5-4 lead in the 8th inning when Gibson hit a three-run homer off Padre relief ace Rich Gossage, effectively ending the series. San Diego native Trammell was named World Series MVP (.450 BA, 6 RBI), though cases could have been made for Morris (two complete game victories) and Gibson (.333 BA, 7 RBI).
The 1984 Tigers are considered by some to be one of the greatest teams ever. Despite this, they are one of the very few World Champion teams in Major League Baseball history not to have a single player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (till Trammel and Morris eventually were admitted).
By David Troppens Motownsports.com MB moderator - It probably should be noted that much of what happened may have been sparked in 1983. The Tigers hinted at a possible AL East title before wilting against the Baltimore Orioles. After that season the Tigers for one reason or another felt they had let a good opportunity slide by. To a man in interviews since that season most will say that was a burning factor in their desire to accomplish great things in 1984. And the 35-5 start probably reflected that drive as well as anything. The Tigers started 9-0 and Jack Morris pitched a no-hitter against Chicago during a nationally televised game. Those factors probably helped the Tigers hit the national spotlight before the 35-5 start was even completed. Even among fans there was a different feel entering the season - one I have yet to feel since. Entering the year we "knew" this would be the year. In fact local Detroit sportscaster Al Ackerman found his previously sarcastic "Bless you Boys" comment about the Tigers being used as a phrase as a term of endearment. A title was almost expected before the first pitch was thrown in Tigertown. And we weren't upset. One historical at bat occurred that most Tiger fans will never forget either. On June 4th, during a nationally broadcast Monday Night Baseball game, Dave Bergman fought off seven 3-2 pitches from Toronto reliever Roy Lee Jackson and then hit a three-run homer, icing the Tigers' 6-3, 10-inning win against the Blue Jays at Tiger Stadium. The win put Detroit at 39-11, 5 1/2 games ahead of Toronto. In his book about the 1984 season Sparky Anderson said it "was the greatest at bat in my life."
Bergman, who also came via the Willie Hernandez trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, had a similar experience on September 7th at Toronto. In what was clearly the Blue Jays' last chance to make up some ground, Bergman hit another three-run homer in the 10th to ice a Tigers' 7-4 victory. The win put Detroit at 90-51 and 9 1/2 games ahead of the Jays with just 21 games to play. The Tigers clinched in game 151 when rookie hurler Randy O'Neal tossed seven innings of shutout ball followed by two shutout innings by Hernandez in a 3-0 win against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tiger Stadium. That also created another interesting trend. The Tigers clinched the division, won the ALCS and the World Series all at Tiger Stadium. They also spent the entire season in first place, one of the few teams to ever accomplish that feat.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Willie Hernandez, Chet Lemon, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker
- AL MVP: Willie Hernandez
- AL Cy Young Award: Willie Hernandez
- AL Gold Glove: Lance Parrish (C), Alan Trammell (SS) and Lou Whitaker (2B)
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Lance Parrish (C) and Lou Whitaker (2B)
- AL Manager of the Year Award: Sparky Anderson
1984 Opening Day Lineup
Lou Whitaker, 2b
Alan Trammell, ss
Darrell Evans, dh
Kirk Gibson, rf
Larry Herndon, lf
Dave Bergman, 1b
Chet Lemon, cf
Howard Johnson, 3b
Jack Morris, p
- Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish!, SABR Publications, Phoenix, AZ, 2012. ISBN 1933599448