Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are the oldest American League baseball team to have only one home city and one name in their history. Beginning in 1894, the Tigers played at Boulevard Park as a charter member in the Western League. In 1895 owner George Vanderbeck built Bennett Park for the team, 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 Athletics, a local pro-team. By this time, the team was often referred to as the “Tigers,” a popular story attributing their name to a Detroit Light Guard unit nicknamed the “Tigers.”

After the Western League was renamed the American League in 1900, becoming a major league a year later, the Tigers played their first major league home game on April 25, 1901.They defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in a remarkable ninth-inning comeback in front of more than 10,000 fans.

In 1905, the Tigers acquired Ty Cobb, considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. With this addition, the Tigers won their first American League pennant in 1907, losing the World Series to the Chicago Cubs. The Tigers were American League Champions the following two years but were defeated in the World Series by Chicago and Pittsburgh, respectively. In 1912, a new stadium was constructed on the site of Bennett Park, named Navin Field, for owner Frank Navin.

The 1930s and 1940s were good decades for the Tigers. In 1934, the Tigers won the American League pennant but lost in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers won the World Series the following year, defeating the Chicago Cubs. In 1938 their stadium was improved and renamed Briggs Stadium. In 1940 the team 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 renamed Tiger Stadium, which would remain its permanent name. The Tigers took the title once again in 1968 defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in game seven, pitched by Mickey Lolich who had three complete game victories in the series. After a slow decline into the 1970 season the team hired coach George “Sparky” Anderson, and acquired several draft picks. In 1984 they won their next title, their last World Series victory until present day.

The Tigers lost a record 109 games in 1996, until 2003 when they lost 119 games, the worst record in Tiger history. However, in 2000 the Tigers left Tiger Stadium and their losing streak to move to a new field near downtown Detroit named Comerica Park, with a new roster of players. On October 4, 2004 Jim Leyland was named head coach and manager of the Tigers, drafting some heavy hitters and swift pitchers. Leyland, one of the Tigers’ strongest managers, coached them to an American League victory in 2006, though were defeated in the World Series by the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the 2011 season, the Tigers were 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 the American League saves leader with 49 saves out of 49 opportunities.

The Tigers have had many famous and talented players among their roster including Ty Cobb, Hank Greenfield, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Miguel Cabrera, and Ozzie Virgil, the first African American to play for the Tigers. The Tigers continue to call Comerica Park their home and to wear the Old English “D” on their jersey, stealing the hearts of Detroiters every time they take the field.



Detroit Tigers uniform patch

1987 Detroit Tigers Yearbook

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