|1984 Detroit Tigers|
American League East Champions|
American League Champions
World Series Champions
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Bill Lajoie|
(George Kell, Al Kaline)
(Bill Freehan, Larry Osterman)
(Ernie Harwell, Paul Carey)
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The 1984 Detroit Tigers won the 1984 World Series, defeating the San Diego Padres, 4 games to 1. The season was their 84th since they entered the American League in 1901 and their fourth World Series championship. Detroit relief pitcher Willie Hernández won the Cy Young Award and was chosen as the American League Most Valuable Player. The 1984 season is also notable for the Tigers leading the AL East division wire-to-wire. They opened with a 9-0 start, were 35-5 after 40 games, and never relinquished the lead during the entire season.
Catcher Lance Parrish, known as the "Big Wheel", led the team in home runs (33) and RBIs (98) -- and strikeouts (120) as well. Parrish was the starting catcher for the American League All Star team and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in 1984. He hit 2 home runs and had 5 RBIs in postseason play.
Dave Bergman was acquired from the Giants (via the Phillies) in March 1984 and became the Tigers' principal first baseman, playing 114 games at the position. He hit .273 in the regular season, but failed to get a hit in 5 games of the 1984 World Series. On June 4, 1984, Bergman had an 11th inning at-bat at home in a big game against second-place Toronto, who at that point trailed the Tigers by only five games. The at-bat lasted 13 pitches (7 minutes), with Bergman fouling off seven straight pitches from Roy Lee Jackson before hitting a walk-off, three-run home run. Sparky Anderson called it the greatest at-bat he had ever seen.
Second baseman Lou Whitaker, known as "Sweet Lou", had his best year in 1983, hitting .320 with 40 doubles and 206 hits. Though his batting numbers were much lower in 1984 (.289 average, 25 doubles and 161 hits), he was selected as the starting second baseman for the American League All Star team and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in 1984.
Shortstop Alan Trammell had a big year in 1984. His .314 batting average was 5th best in the American League and 25 points higher than any other Tiger. He was selected for the American League All Star team and won his 4th Gold Glove award at shortstop. Trammell was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 1984 World Series after batting .450, driving in 6 runs and hitting 2 home runs.
Third base was a weak spot in the Detroit lineup, with light-hitting Tom Brookens entering as the starter from 1980 to 1983. In 1984, manager Sparky Anderson searched for the right third baseman, as five different players appeared in 19 or more games at the position that season: 108 by Howard Johnson, 68 by Brookens, 33 by Marty Castillo, 20 by Bárbaro Garbey, and 19 by Darrell Evans.
Howard Johnson, nicknamed "HoJo", was the starting third baseman on Opening Day and through most of the 1984 season. Johnson had a disappointing year, batting .248 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. In the 1984 World Series, Sparky Anderson gave the third base job to Marty Castillo, and HoJo had only 1 pinch-hit at bat. Johnson was traded to the Mets less than 2 months after the World Series, and went on to have some big years in New York (36 HRs, 101 RBIs in 1989).
The image of Kirk Gibson with his arms raised above his head after hitting a 3-run home run in the 1984 World Series has become the iconic symbol of the Tigers' 1984 season. The blast came off Goose Gossage, the best reliever in the National League, in the 8th inning of the 5th and final game. It put the Tigers ahead, 8-4, and sealed the championship. During the regular season, the Detroit area native played right field and led the team with a .516 slugging percentage. He also contributed 27 home runs, 91 RBIs and 29 stolen bases, and was #6 in the American League Most Valuable Player voting.
Chet Lemon was the starting center fielder in the 1984 All Star game and a major contributor to the Tigers' success in 1984. One of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, Lemon had 427 putouts in 1984 with a .995 fielding percentage; his 3.09 Range factor rating was far above the league average of 2.17. Lemon also contributed to the team's offensive output with a .287 batting average, 20 home runs, 34 doubles, 76 RBIs, and a.495 slugging percentage.
Larry Herndon played 117 games in left field for the 1984 Tigers and hit .280. In the World Series, he had a .333 batting average and hit a home run. His 2-run homer in Game 1 was the difference in a 3-2 Tigers win. He also caught the final out of the World Series, a fly ball off the bat of Tony Gwynn.
Jack Morris was the leader of the Tigers pitching staff. He started the season with a no-hitter in April and was 10-1 before the end of May. He was selected for the 1984 All Star team, but finished the season 9-10 from June through September. He was 19-11 in the regular season with a 3.60 ERA. He won all three of his post-season starts, tossing two complete games and allowing only five earned runs in 25 innings (1.80 ERA).
The team's #2 starter, Dan Petry, finished the year 18-8 with the 3rd best winning percentage (.692) in the American League. His 3.24 ERA in the regular season was the lowest among the Tiger starters.
The team's #3 starter, Milt Wilcox, was 17-8 with a 4.00 ERA. Wilcox was 2-0 in the post-season, giving up only 1 run in 14 innings. He combined with the bullpen to shut out the Royals, 1-0, in the third and final game of the ALCS.
Though Morris was the ace, the Tigers' MVP was Willie Hernández. The Tigers traded John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson to the Phillies in March for Hernández and Dave Bergman. Hernández appeared in a team record 80 games for the 1984 Tigers and was virtually untouchable. He allowed 96 hits and only 6 home runs while throwing an incredible innings out of the bullpen, and finished the season with a stellar 1.92 ERA. His Adjusted ERA+ of 204 is one of the highest in Detroit Tigers history. With 32 saves and 68 games finished, Hernandez won the Cy Young Award and was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player. His 32 saves came in 33 opportunities, his only blown save coming in late September after the Tigers had already secured the AL East Division title. Hernandez saved three post-season games, including the series-clinching games in both the ALCS and World Series.
The popular Aurelio López, known as "Señor Smoke", also had a strong season as the Tigers #2 relief pitcher. Lopez finished the season with 41 games finished, a record of 10-1 and a 2.94 ERA. He also saved 14 games while pitching innings. Lopez earned a win in Game 2 of the ALCS, tossing three scoreless innings as the Tigers won in 11 innings. Almost lost in the World Series Game 5 hitting heroics of Kirk Gibson was Lopez earning the win with innings of scoreless relief, in which he didn't allow a baserunner.
Darrell Evans was the Tigers' big free agent signing before the 1984 season. Though he had big years in 1985 (40 HRs, 94 RBIs) and 1987 (34 HRs, 99 RBIs), Evans struggled in his first year in the American League, batting .232 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs. In the 1984 World Series, Evans went 1-for-15 for an .067 batting average.
The 1984 Tigers had several non-starters who made big contributions to the team's success.
As a rookie in 1984, Bárbaro Garbey played in 110 games, including appearances at first base, second base, third base, DH, and each of the outfield positions. Garbey hit .287 and had more RBIs (52) than several starters, including Howard Johnson, Larry Herndon and Dave Bergman.
Ruppert Jones was signed as a free agent one week into the season on April 10, 1984. He played in 79 games, mostly as a backup in left field. Jones contributed 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in only 215 at-bats. His .516 slugging percentage was tied with Kirk Gibson for the team lead.
Slick-fielding outfielder Rusty Kuntz played in 84 games, primarily as a late-inning defensive replacement, and hit .286 in 140 at-bats--easily the best offensive season of his major league career. Kuntz's sacrifice fly in the fifth inning of Game 5 of the 1984 World Series broke a 4-4 tie and turned out to be the game-winning and Series-clinching RBI.
Possibly the most popular of the role players was Marty Castillo. In 1984, Castillo appeared in 70 games as a third baseman and backup catcher, and came through in the clutch at several key moments, including: scoring 3 runs to secure a win on August 26; hitting a home run to beat the Yankees on September 23; collecting the game-winning, pennant clinching RBI in Game 3 of the ALCS, a 1-0 victory; catching the ball at third base for the final out of the ALCS; hitting .333 with a .455 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging percentage in the World Series; hitting a two-run home run in Game 3 of the World Series; and scoring in Game 5 when Kirk Gibson hit his 3-run home run off Goose Gossage.
Detroit manager Sparky Anderson is fifth on the all-time list for manager career wins in Major League Baseball, and in 1984 he became the first manager to win the World Series while leading clubs in both leagues. He previously managed the Cincinnati Reds to the 1975 and 1976 championships, but the Reds inexplicably fired him after a second-place finish in the 1978 season. Sparky kept a journal during the 1984 season, which was published under the title "Bless You Boys: Diary of the Detroit Tigers' 1984 Season". On the day the Tigers clinched the pennant, Sparky wrote in his journal: "I have to be honest. I've waited for this day since they fired me in Cincinnati. I think they made a big mistake when they did that. Now no one will ever question me again." 
|Toronto Blue Jays||89||73||0.549||15||49-32||40-41|
|New York Yankees||87||75||0.537||17||51-30||36-45|
|Boston Red Sox||86||76||0.531||18||41-40||45-36|
1984 American League Records
Sources:         
The Tigers began the year with an unprecedented start of 35-5. For the rest of the season, the team went 69-53. There was a stretch in late July and August where the team lost 12 out of 18. The Tigers finished with a 104-58 record, 15 games ahead of the second place Toronto Blue Jays. They outscored their opponents 829-643.
The 1984 Tigers' 104 wins is a franchise record and their .642 winning percentage ranks as the 4th best in team history, as follows:
|Tigers win||Tigers loss|
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Note: G = Games pitched; W= Wins; L= Losses; SV = Saves; GF = Games Finished; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Detroit won the opening game 8-1. Jack Morris pitched 7 innings and allowed a single run, with Willie Hernández pitching the final 2 innings. Alan Trammell hit a triple and a home run for 3 RBIs, and Larry Herndon and Lance Parrish also hit home runs for Detroit.
In Game 2, the Tigers won in extra innings 5-3. Kirk Gibson doubled to drive in Lou Whitaker in the 1st inning and hit a home run in the 3rd. Dan Petry pitched 7 innings and gave up 2 runs, but a rare blown save by Willie Hernández cost him a victory. Johnny Grubb hit a double off Dan Quisenberry in the 11th inning to drive in Darrell Evans and Ruppert Jones. Aurelio López held the Royals scoreless in the 9th, 10th and 11th innings to earn the win.
Game 3 was a pitching duel between Milt Wilcox and Charlie Leibrandt. Leibrandt pitched a complete game, allowing only 1 run and 3 hits, while Wilcox gave up 2 hits and struck out 8 Royals, with Hernández pitching the 9th inning for the save. Marty Castillo batted in Chet Lemon for the game's only run, as the Tigers completed a 3-game sweep and advanced to the World Series.
Kirk Gibson was named the Most Valuable Player of the AL Championship Series.
In Game 3, the Tigers scored 4 runs in the 2nd inning, including 2 on a home run by Marty Castillo, while the San Diego pitchers gave up 11 bases on balls in the first 5 innings, en route to a 5-2 victory for Milt Wilcox.
In Game 5, the Tigers scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, but the Padres rallied to tie it in the 4th inning. In the 8th, with Detroit leading 5-4, the Tigers got runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Padres manager Dick Williams called on Goose Gossage to walk Kirk Gibson and set up a possible double play. Gossage talked Williams into letting him pitch to Gibson, and Gibson responded with a 3-run blast into the right-field upper deck. Detroit radio announcer Ernie Harwell called Gibson's home run on WJR radio as follows:
|"||A high drive to right, and it's a home run for Gibson! A 3-run home run and the Tigers lead it 8-4!||"|
Following the Tigers' victory in Game 5, the celebration by Detroit fans turned violent. A well known photograph taken outside Tiger Stadium shows a Tigers "fan" holding a World Series pennant in front of an overturned burning Detroit Police car. The image was printed in newspapers across the country, and became a symbol of Detroit's decline. One writer described the press reaction to the post-game violence as follows:
|"||The final AP report read: "34 arrests, one dead, dozens injured." Few of those arrested had attended the game, but the pictures of burning police cars and taxis appeared in national newspapers and magazines. A photograph of seventeen-year-old Kenneth (Bubba) Helms, an eighth-grade dropout from Lincoln Park, in front of a burning police car, became the image of Detroit's celebration.||"|
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
The following members of the 1984 Detroit Tigers are among the top 100 of all time at their position (in fact, they are all in the top 50), as ranked by The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001:
|Darrell Evans||3B||10th||played in 131 games, but only 19 at third base in 1984|
|Kirk Gibson||LF||36th||played in 149 games, but none in left field in 1984|
Not one of the players named above have been elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and any eligibility to be elected as a player by the BBWAA has expired. Manager Sparky Anderson was inducted by the Veterans Committee in 2000. In December 2017, the Modern Baseball Era Committee elected to induct Trammell and pitcher Jack Morris in 2018.
|AAA||Evansville Triplets||American Association||Gordon Mackenzie|
|AA||Birmingham Barons||Southern League||Roy Majtyka|
|A||Lakeland Tigers||Florida State League||Bill Fahey|
|Rookie||Bristol Tigers||Appalachian League||Hal Dyer|