Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Tigers

At their beginning in 1894, the Detroit Tigers played at Boulevard Park as a charter member in the Western League. In 1895, owner George Vanderbeck decided to build the team their own park, called Bennett Park, at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues. On April 28, 1896, they played their first Western League game at the new park, defeating the Columbus Senators. By this time, the team was often referred to as the “Tigers”. They originally got their name from a military unit called the Detroit Light Guard, which was nicknamed the “Tigers.”

In 1900, the Western League was renamed the American League, and the next year it declared itself major. Thus, on April 25, 1901 the Tigers played their first major league baseball game at home, defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in a remarkable ninth-inning comeback. They debuted in front of more than 10,000 fans, all cheering Detroit’s first American League team.

In 1905, the Tigers acquired Ty Cobb, who is now thought of as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. With this new addition to an already talented team, the Tigers won their first American League pennant in 1907, although they ultimately lote in the 1907 World Series to the Chicago Cubs. The Tigers were American League Champions in the following two years as well but were defeated in the World Series by Chicago and Pittsburgh, respectively. In 1912, a stadium was constructed on the site of Bennett Park. This new stadium was named Navin Field, for owner Frank Navin.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Tigers saw even more success than they did in their early years. In 1934, the Tigers again won the American League pennant and again lost in the World Series, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers eventually won the World Series the following year in 1935, defeating the Chicago Cubs at last. In 1938 their stadium was improved upon, and it was renamed Briggs Stadium. In 1940, the team again won the American League pennant and in 1945 they were World Series Champions for the second time.

The Tigers had limited success between 1946 and 1967 due to expansions in the league. In 1961 Briggs Stadium was finally renamed Tiger Stadium, which would be its permanent name for the remainder of its existence. The Tigers remained a home town favorite, attracting crowds of people, and they were ranked among the League’s best even through the riots in Detroit in 1967. The Tigers took the title once again in 1968 despite the devastation that the city endured the previous year. After the victory in 1968, the Tigers took a slow decline into the 1970 season. After being under new management, hiring new coach George “Sparky” Anderson and acquiring several draft picks, the Tigers began looking better and playing better every day. In 1984 they won their next title and were able to instill hope and regained the trust of the fans and the American League. This would be their last World Series victory until present day.

The Tigers lost a record 109 games between 1997 and 2000. This record continues to be the worst record in Tigers history. In 2000 the Tigers left Tiger Stadium and their losing streak to move to a new field with a new roster of players. With a new home named Comerica Park, the Tigers came back stronger than ever. On October 4, 2004 Jim Leyland was named head coach and manager of the Tigers. After that, the Tigers drafted some heavy hitters and swift pitchers. Jim Leyland is said to be one of the strongest managers that the Tigers have ever had, and he continues to coach them into victories. In 2006, the Tigers became American League Champions once again but were defeated in the World Series by the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the 2011 season, the Tigers saw great success, becoming the Champions of the American League Central Division. In addition to the team success, many players saw individual success as well, with pitcher Justin Verlander winning the Cy Young Award and the American League MVP Award, Miguel Cabrera winning the American League batting title, and Jose Valverde being the AL saves leader with 49 saves out of 49 opportunities.

Historically, the Tigers have had many famous and talented players among their roster including Ty Cobb, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, Al Kaline, Cecil Fielder, Joe Diroff, and Ozzie Virgil. Ozzie Virgil was the first African American to play for the Tigers, and his picture can be seen in Comerica Park today. The Tigers continue to call Comerica Park their home and Jim Leyland their coach. They continue to wear the Old English “D” on their jersey and steal the hearts of Detroiters every time they take the field.

 


RELATED ITEMS IN THE COLLECTION

Detroit Tigers uniform patch

1987 Detroit Tigers Yearbook

View all items related to the Detroit Tigers