DETROIT -- MLB Network already had an afternoon of 1984 World Series replays planned to celebrate the Tigers’ most recent championship for fans stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. With news that Hall of Famer Al Kaline died Monday at age 85, the network added more Tigers October classics
DETROIT -- MLB Network already had an afternoon of 1984 World Series replays planned to celebrate the Tigers’ most recent championship for fans stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. With news that Hall of Famer Al Kaline died Monday at age 85, the network added more Tigers October classics in honor of Mr. Tiger.
Thirty-six years to the day since Jack Morris threw his no-hitter as part of the 1984 Tigers’ 35-5 start, Detroit fans will have a chance to watch the Tigers’ last two World Series championships today. MLB Network will broadcast Games 1, 4 and 5 of the 1984 World Series this afternoon, followed by Games 6 and 7 tonight.
It’s a welcome diversion as fans stay home and stay safe. It comes a year after the 1984 Tigers celebrated the 35th anniversary of their championship and in a year when the Tigers are scheduled to retire Lou Whitaker’s uniform No. 1 at Comerica Park. It also comes two years after the 50th anniversary of the 1968 title.
“We had a great run in 1984,” Whitaker said during the anniversary ceremonies last summer. “We had the time of our lives. It’s something we’ll never forget.”
The marathon begins early, so -- as Hall of Fame play-by-play voice Vin Scully says a few times on the 1984 broadcasts -- pull up a chair.
Noon ET: Game 1 -- Herndon homers, Morris deals
The Tigers fell behind early in front of a boisterous San Diego crowd but kept their cool behind Morris, their ace who went the distance. Larry Herndon put the Tigers ahead with his opposite-field, two-run home run in the fifth inning off Padres starter Mark Thurmond.
Morris used his tumbling splitter to rack up nine strikeouts. He also had help from his defense, from a couple deft fielding plays by Trammell at short to a perfectly executed relay from right fielder Kirk Gibson to Whitaker to nab Kurt Bevacqua trying for a leadoff triple in the seventh inning.
“Team is a wonderful thing. Winning makes it so special for life,” Morris said when his number was retired in 2018, “but it's the relationships you have. And only you know who the guys in there that you want to be in the trenches, the guys you want to have a bat in their hand.”
The telecast is a time-machine trip to an era when stolen bases were such a part of the game that Morris threw back-to-back pitchouts in hopes of slowing down Padres speedster Alan Wiggins, whose 70 stolen bases that season were third-most in the National League.
2 p.m. ET: Game 4 -- Two homers for Tram, nine more innings for Morris
On a gloomy, overcast Saturday afternoon at Tiger Stadium, Trammell and Morris had a capacity crowd beaming as they pulled Detroit to the brink of a championship. Trammell built his case for World Series MVP by homering in each of his first two at-bats off Padres starter Eric Show, driving home Whitaker both times.
Morris gave up a Terry Kennedy homer early but cruised from there, retiring 13 consecutive Padres at one point while barely cracking a smile.
“I really didn’t feel that strong early in the game, and I didn’t really feel that strong late in the game,” Morris told NBC Sports’ Len Berman afterward. “But I had enough rhythm.”
4 p.m. ET: Game 5 -- Gibby’s glory
The trilogy wouldn’t be complete without the series clincher. Gibson’s two-run homer off Thurmond put the Tigers in front in the opening inning, but his three-run drive off Goose Gossage in the eighth inning sealed the win and propelled Gibson into Fall Classic lore.
The scene for the latter: As Gossage shakes his head at manager Dick Williams over the notion of an intentional walk with first base open, insisting he can strike Gibson out, Tigers manager Sparky Anderson is yelling from the dugout at his hitter.
“He don’t wanna walk you,” Anderson famously proclaimed.
MLB Network continues to celebrate the ’84 Tigers later this evening, first with a 7 p.m. ET showing of Baseball’s Seasons spotlighting that year. After that, it’s time to go back to 1968.
8 p.m.: Game 6 -- Kaline plates four to send Series the distance
Of the three games the Tigers won to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit, this one was the most lopsided. The Tigers pulled in front in the second inning, then used a 10-run third to erase any hope of a Cardinals comeback. Kaline had an RBI single and a two-run single in the same inning, then added a fifth-inning solo homer off Steve Carlton as an exclamation point.
“I think we hurt the Cardinals when we scored 10 runs in one inning,” Kaline said a couple years ago. “I think their confidence went down a little bit, because they were very cocky and they were all around the [batting] cage and having fun. Then all of a sudden we put up 10 runs, and they weren’t joking around quite as much as they were before. They weren’t used to a 10-spot, with that pitching staff and that ballpark.”
10 p.m.: Game 7 -- Mickey outduels Gibson
The Tigers had one run and 27 strikeouts in 18 innings against Bob Gibson in Games 1 and 4 combined, and they had one infield single and six strikeouts through the first six innings of Game 7. Then the Tigers churned out four consecutive hits, including Jim Northrup’s go-ahead two-run triple over the head over a stumbling Curt Flood. Mickey Lolich shut down the Cardinals until Mike Shannon’s solo homer with two outs in the ninth; Lolich still finished it off for his third complete-game win of the Series and MVP honors.
“I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me they’ll never forget [Harry] Caray saying, ‘McCarver pops up,' when the Cardinals' catcher followed Shannon by swinging at the first pitch I threw to him,” Lolich wrote in his book, _Joy in Tigertown_, with Spink Award-winning baseball writer Tom Gage. “To them, it was an iconic moment. To me, it was as well.”
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.