Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers were formed in 1901, when they joined as a charter member to the American League. They have clinched the World Series on no less than four occasions, but have also endured some unprecedented losing streaks. While few other teams remained at their original ground, the Tigers played at one stadium, Tiger Park, for over a century, only moving to Comerica Park in 1999.

Before the Tigers

The first Detroit-based baseball team was the Detroit Wolverines. In 1887, the Wolverines won the National League pennant and an exhibition World Series. However, they were not capable of bringing in enough fans to make the team financially viable, and following the 1888 season the club ceased to exist.

A second Detroit club was set up in 1889 and became a member of the International League, in which it enjoyed success. However, the league did not last for very long and the club disappeared with it.

The Tigers Arrive

In 1894, another Detroit team evolved and joined the newly-organised Western League, playing at Boulevard Park. In 1895 they moved to Bennett Park, built by the then owner, George Vanderbeck. This would remain their home for the next 104 years.

The team soon became known as ‘The Tigers’ and, on April 25th 1901, they beat the Milwaukee Brewers at home in their first Major League match, eventually finishing third in the standings.

Early Chances

Tyrus Cobb joined the Tigers in 1905, and is now rated as one of the greatest players of all time. In 1907 he helped his team to American League pennant victory.

However, in the Fall Classic, as the World Series was then known, they did not perform well against the Chicago Cubs, and lost in their bid to become champions. In 1908 they lost again to the same team, and the following year they went out to Pittsburgh, completing three years of near misses.

Great Season, No Luck

The 1915 season has gone down in history as one of the greatest team performances ever. However, despite managing to win 100 games that year, the Boston Red Sox went one better by taking 101 to beat them to the pennant.

The following years were not particularly successful. In 1921 Ty Cobb took over the club but failed to make an impact during his six year tenure as manager. His best effort came in 1924 when the team stayed in contention for the pennant right up until the last week, ending with a record of 86-68.

World Series Triumph

The 1930s saw a change in fortune for the team as, with the help of some influential players including Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer, they managed to improve their game significantly.

In 1934 they got back to their winning ways, taking the pennant and reaching the World Series again. Success, however, eluded them and they lost to the St Louis Cardinals in the deciding game.

But it was all change the following year, as finally the Tigers overcame the disappointment of the previous year to take the World Series against the Chicago Cubs by winning 4-2.

Second World Series

The next notable year would be 1940, when they went on to win the pennant but failed to get the World Series title back when they went out to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Second World War came and went, and the club got back to action in style by winning the 1945 pennant. It would lead them on to greater success as they went on to beat the Cubs once again to gain their second World Series. However, as many players were still away on military service, the triumph is sometimes viewed as only a half success.

Quiet Times and Tragedy

With the exception of Al Kaline, an outstanding young player, the Tigers failed to do anything special during the 1950s.

In 1961 they staged a resurgence, managing to take 101 games in the season. However, in a cruel twist of fate, it also happened to be the Yankees year as well and the Tigers failed to win the pennant despite their record.

1966, although unspectacular on the pitch, was a season marred more than anything by a double tragedy off it. Both manager Chuck Dressen and acting manager Bob Swift were forced to resign due to health problems. They both died later that year – it was a bitter blow to the club.

1968 Success

After an incredibly close season in 1967, when the Tigers failed to win the pennant by a tiny margin to the Boston Red Sox, 1968 proved to be a year to remember.

The hero of the season was Denny McLain, the pitcher who became the first to win over 30 games in a season since Dizzy Dean of the St Louis Cardinals in 1934. It is a feat which remains unbeaten to this day.

After winning the pennant they faced the St Louis Cardinals, a team which would prove to be tough competition. In the early games the Cardinals certainly looked the stronger of the two teams, but the Tigers managed to get themselves back into the series, taking it to a seventh and decisive game.

It was a thrilling final showdown, and the Tigers fought hard to eventually take it 4-1, winning their third World Series 4-3.

The Leagues Split

In 1969, the leagues split into two divisions, and the Tigers found themselves in the American League East. They could not repeat the heroics of the past year, however, and came in second.

However, in 1972 they came back to win American League East by half a game. This led to a shot at the American League Championship Series and, following a tough battle against Oakland Athletics of the American League West, the Tigers failed to reach their peak, and fell short of making it to the World Series once again.

Quiet Years

Things petered out for the Tigers in the mid-seventies. In 1974 Ralph Houk became manager, and held the position for the next five years. The players were ageing, and old heroes were leaving. One of these included Al Kaline who, with 3007 hits to his name, would in 1980 be voted onto the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The World Series Returns

Things were to change in 1979 with the arrival of George Anderson, but it would not be until 1984 that he would make the breakthrough that he wanted. The season started off with John Fetzer selling the team to Tom Monaghan, which was a surprise for even the most knowledgeable of baseball fans.

The Tigers began with a phenomenal string of success, winning 35 of their first 40 games to mark a new record in Major League history. The season carried on in the same vein, and they went on to score 104 victories, a record for the club, to reach the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. It proved to be a routine encounter for the Tigers, and they took it convincingly to reach another World Series.

Their opponents would be the San Diego Padres, and it was Kirk Gibson who proved to be the hero when he struck a massive hit to lead them to another title which they took 4-1. It had been a fantastic season, and they were worthy champions.

Another Chance

Just three years later they would once again prove to be contenders for the ultimate prize as, after a slow start to the season, they managed to fight their way back to find themselves in contention for the division. This was finally achieved by beating Toronto at Tiger Stadium on October 4th, 1987.

However, they could not go all the way this time around, and lost to the Minnesota Twins in the American League Championship Series.

Going Down

In 1989, things took a sharp downhill turn as the Tigers racked up 103 losses, their worst ever record. Things did not improve for a long time. During the years 1994 to 2005, they failed to get a winning record, which was disastrous for a club that had always managed to achieve this regularly in the past.

In 2000, the team’s long stretch at Tiger Park came to an end, and they switched to Comerica Park, a move which came with mixed emotions. Their record did not improve, however, and Randy Smith took a lot of the blame for providing ageing players with lucrative contracts. In 2002, after six straight losses, he was fired along with the manager, Phil Garner.

In 2003, Alan Trammell came in as the new manager. The season was a disaster, and they lost a record 119 games, more than any other team in the history of the American League. Despite this, owner Dombrowski kept faith with Trammell into 2004.

The next two seasons saw major improvements in the performances, but they were still not reaching their full potential, and so Trammell was shown the door after the 2005 season.

A Return to Form

2006 was to be a different year entirely. Jim Leyland was brought in as manager, and the club immediately saw an improvement.

They rocketed into the lead to gain their first winning season in many years and, with five games to go and only one win needed, they were looking certain to win the division.

In a huge upset, however, they managed to lose all of their remaining games. Even so, they still made it into the play-offs, the first since 1987, where they beat the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics to make it to the World Series once again.

Unfortunately, they were outclassed by the St Louis Cardinals by four games to one, and are still looking for their next shot at the title.

The 2007 season, although unremarkable, will be remembered for Justin Verlander pitching a no hitter, a game without a single hit for the opposing team. It was the first time the Tigers had accomplished this feat since 1984.

Club Honours

World Series titles – 1935, 1945, 1968, 1984

American League Pennants – 1907, 1908, 1909, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968, 1984, 2006

Predicted Line-up for 2008

  • CF: Curtis Granderson
  • 2B: Placido Polanco
  • RF: Magglio Ordonez
  • 3B: Miguel Cabrera
  • DH: Gary Sheffield
  • 1B: Carlos Guillen
  • SS: Edgar Renteria
  • C: Ivan Rodriquez
  • LF: Jacque Jones