In today’s installment of History of the Tigers, we will be looking at the years 1921-1930. This decade was marked by average play by the Tigers, with no World Series appearances. The Tigers’ hometown was more successful, however, as the population of the City of Detroit grew 58% from 1921-1930. Although not as large of an increase as the prior decade, Detroit was still a quickly growing city.
The Tigers finished in 6th place in 1921, 27 games behind the American League leaders Yankees, with a record of 71-82. Despite their record, they got 1724 hits and had a batting record of .316 as a team, both American League records. Detroit outfielders Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann were first and second in the American League batting average race, with Heilmann hitting .394 and Cobb hitting .389. But the reason the Tigers struggled so much was because of their pitching. Their team ERA was 4.40, and they allowed 9 or more runs 28 times.
In 1922, the Tigers record was 79-75, and they finished 3rd in the American League, 15 games behind the Yankees. Ty Cobb hit .401, and Harry Heilmann hit 21 home runs, 18 behind American League leader Ken Williams. Their best pitcher was Herman Pillette, with a record of 19-12 and an ERA of 2.85. In 1923, the Tigers finished second in the American League, once again behind the Yankees. Their record was 83-71, and they were 16 games out of first place. Harry Heilmann hit .403 with 18 homers and 115 RBI’s, and Hooks Dauss had a record of 21-13 and a 3.62 ERA. In 1924, the Tigers got their next great player as Charlie Gehringer joined the club. The Tigers stayed in the race for the pennant until the last week of the season, and they were 6 games out of first. Their best batter was Harry Heilmann. He hit .346 with 10 homers and 114 RBI’s. In pitching, Rip Collins was the leader, with a record of 14-7 and a 2.96 ERA.
In 1925, the Tigers finished 8 games over .500, but they were 16 and a 1/2 games behind the Washington Senators. Harry Heilmann once again had a great season, hitting .393 with 13 home runs and 134 RBI’s. Hooks Dauss had another good season as well, going 16-11 with a 3.16 ERA. In 1926, the Tigers were on the radio for the first time. They were on WWJ, which was one of the first commercial radio stations in the United States. The Tigers did not perform better because of this radio coverage though, as they finished 6th in the AL, 12 games behind the Yankees. Henie Manush was the leader in batting, with an average of .378, 14 home runs and 86 RBI’s. In 1927, the Tigers lost an amazing player as Ty Cobb retired. He would later go on to sign with the Philidelphia Athletics in 1927. In the Tigers season, they finished in 4th place, 27.5 games back. Harry Heilmann hit .398 with 14 homers and 120 RBI’s. Earl Whitehill had a record of 16-14 and an ERA of 3.36. In 1928, the Tigers were all the way down to 6th place, 33 games behind the Yankees and 18 games under .500. Harry Heilmann hit .328 with 14 homers and 107 RBI’s. And Ownie Carroll had a record of 16-12 and an ERA of 3.27.
After two disappointing seasons with Ty Cobb’s replacement George Moriarty, the Tigers fired him and hired Bucky Harris, hoping for a more successful season. But the Tigers once again finished 6th with a record 70-84, 36 games out of first place. Bob Fothergill hit .354 with 6 homers and 62 RBI’s. George Uhle had a record of 15-11 with an ERA of 4.08. In the last season of the decade, the Tigers finished 5th and only 4 games under .500. They were 27 games behind the Athletics. Charlie Gehringer had a superior season, hitting .330 with 16 home runs and 98 RBI’s. George Uhle was one of only 7 pitchers with a winning record, but Vic Sorell was probably their best pitcher with a record of 16-11 and an ERA of 3.86.