In today’s History of the Tigers, we will be looking at the years 1931-1940, when the Tigers finally broke through to win a World Series. Make sure that you check out my previous posts about the History of the Tigers here, follow my Twitter, and like my facebook page.
In 1931, the Tigers did not have a successful season, as they finished 32 games under .500, and they also were 47 games out of first place, in seventh place in the American League. Their best hitter statistically was John “Rocky” Stone, with an average of .327, 10 homers and 76 RBI’s. Their best pitcher was George Uhle, with a record of 11-12 and an ERA of 3.50. In 1932, the Tigers finished over .500 with a record of 76-75, but they were still 29.5 games behind the first place Yankees. Gee Walker hit very well, with an average of .323, 8 homers and 78 RBI’s. Tommy Bridges was their best pitcher, with a record of 14-12 and an ERA of 3.36. In 1933, the Tigers fired manager Bucky Harris during the season and made third base coach Del Baker interim manager for the remainder of the season. They finished 4 games under .500, and 25 games behind the Washington Senators. Charlie Gehringer was their best hitter, with an average of .325, 12 homers and 105 RBI’s. Tommy Bridges once again went 14-12 and had an ERA of 3.09.
In 1934, the Tigers hired a new manager, and they immediately saw that they had picked a great leader. Mickey Cochrane was a competitive manager who was also a great catcher. The Tiger won the American League, and they won 101 games. They also were broadcast on a second radio station for the first season. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. Charlie Gehringer hit .356 with 11 homers and 127 RBI’s, and Schoolboy Rowe went 24-8 with an ERA of 3.45. In 1935, the Tigers broke through to win their first World Series ever. In the regular season, they won 93 games, and they beat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, 4 games to 2. Hank Greenberg hit .328, belted 36 home runs and drove in 170 runs. Elden Auker had a record of 18-7 and a 3.83 ERA.
In 1936, Walter Briggs Sr. became the Detroit Tigers full owner. He had been a part owner of the Tigers since 1919, and in 1936 he became the sole owner. The Tigers finished 12 games over .500, but they were still 19.5 games out of first place. Charlie Gehringer hit .354 with 15 homers and 116 RBI’s. In pitching, Schoolboy Rowe had a 19-10 record and a 4.51 ERA. In 1937, the Tigers continued their run of winning seasons, as they won 89 games, but once again the Yankees beat them out in the American League. Charlie Gehringer once again had an amazing season, batting .371 with 14 homers and 96 RBI’s. Elden Auker was their best pitcher, with a 17-9 record and a 3.88 ERA. In the 1938 season, the Tigers won 84 games and lost 70, and Hank Greenberg competed for the single season home run record. He had 58 homers going into the final weekend, but he couldn’t hit enough to tie or beat Babe Ruth’s then-record of 60. He was the first player to win the American League MVP unanimously though. He hit .315 with 58 home runs and 146 RBI’s. In the pitching category, Tommy Bridges had a 13-9 record and an ERA of 4.59.
In the penultimate season of this decade, 1939, the Tigers once again had a record of 84-70 and were fourth in the AL. Hank Greenberg was their best hitter again, with a .312 average, 33 home runs and 112 RBI’s. Tommy Bridges was their best pitcher again, with a record of 17-7 and a 3.50 ERA. In the final season of this post’s coverage, the Tigers were the American League Champions with a record of 90-64, just 1 game ahead of the Cleveland Indians and 2 games ahead of the New York Yankees. Del Baker became their manager. However, they lost in the World Series 4 games to 3 to the Cincinnati Reds. Hank Greenberg hit .340 with 41 home runs and 150 RBI’s, and Bobo Newsome had a record of 21-5 and a 2.83 ERA.
Thank you for reading the 4th History of the Tigers post and make sure you stay tuned for the next one coming out next Friday.