History of the Tigers: 1971-1980

Detroit Tigers history

Welcome back to another post, today is another installment in the History of the Tiger series, where we look back on the Detroit Tigers history. This post will be focused on the years 1971-1980. To stay updated on future posts, make sure to like my facebook page here and follow my Twitter here. You can join my Discord here. And you can view the rest of the posts for this series here. Thanks!

1971-1973: New Managers and Winning Success

In 1971, the Tigers finished second in the three-year-old Eastern Division. They hired new manager Billy Martin, and finished  20 games over .500 but still 10 games back of first place. Norm Cash hit .283 with 32 homers and 91 RBI, while Mickey Lolich won 25 games and had a 2.92 ERA but did not win the Cy Young.

The next year, the Tigers won the Eastern Division but lost 3 games to 2 in a best of 5 AL Championship Series against the Oakland A’s. Al Kaline hit 10 homers and drove in 32 runs with a .313 average, and Mickey Lolich finished with a 22-14 record and a 2.50 ERA.

In 1973, the Tigers went 85-77, but they fired Billy Martin as manager on August 30 and Joe Schultz became their manager. Willie Horton hit .316 with 17 homers and 53 RBI, and Joe Coleman went 23-15 with a 3.53 ERA.

1974-1977: Losing Seasons Every Year

After the 1973 season, the Tigers hired Ralph Houk as their new manager. He didn’t seem to have much success, because the Tigers finished last in the AL East, 19 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. Bill Freehan hit .297 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI. John Hiller led the pitching staff with 17-14 record and 2.64 ERA. October 2nd, 1974 was the last game that Al Kaline played. He finished his career with 3007 hits and 399 home runs.

In 1975, the Tigers kept Ralph Houk as their manager, and then had their 5th worst season in team history, with a record of 57-102. They finished 37.5 games back of first place in the AL East. Willie Horton led the team in hitting with a .275 average, 25 home runs, and 92 RBI. Mickey Lolichw as the Tigers best pitcher with a 12-18 record and 3.78 ERA.

The Tigers once again had Ralph Houk as their manager for the 1976 season, and the Tigers definitely improved, as they had a 74-87 record. Rusty Staub led the team in hitting with a .299 average, 15 home runs, and 96 RBI, while Mark Fydrich was the Tigers best pitcher with a 19-9 record and 2.34 ERA.

In 1977, the Tigers were 74-88, which was pretty much the same as the 1976 season. Rusty Staub once again led the team in hitting with a .278 average, 22 home runs, and 101 RBI. And Dave Rozema led the pitching staff with a 15-7 record and 3.09 ERA.

1978-1980 Finally Winning and Sparky Arrives

In 1978, the Tigers finally had a winning record, finishing 86-76. But they still finished 5th in the AL East because the Yankees, Brewers, Red Sox, and Orioles all won 90 games. Rusty Staub was once again their best hitter with .273 average, 24 home runs, and 121 RBI. And Jack Billingham led the pitching with a 15-8 record and 3.88 ERA.

In 1979, Les Moss became the manager of the Tigers and started 27-26. He was not fired for being a bad manager, but because manager Sparky Anderson became available, and the Tigers wanted to hire him. Dick Tracewski managed 4 games until Anderson’s arrival. The Tigers ended up finishing the season 85-76. Steve Kemp was their top hitter with a .318 average, 26 homers, and 105 RBI, while Jack Morris led the pitching with a 17-7 record and 3.28 ERA.

In the final season of this post, the Tigers finished 84-78, and 4th in the AL East. Steve Kemp led the team in hitting with a .293 average, 21 home runs, and 101 RBI, while Aurelio Lopez led the pitching with a 13-6 record and 3.77 ERA.

I hope you enjoyed this post in the History of the Tigers series and I look forward to making the last couple of posts in this series soon!

History of the Detroit Tigers: 1961-1970: Championship and Division Play Starts!

Detroit Tigers history

Welcome back to another post in this series about Detroit Tigers history. I know it has been a long time since I have posted in it, but I will be finishing the series this summer and then starting a new one on one of the other Detroit sports teams when this series is finished. But today we will be talking about the Tigers from the period of 1961-1970.

To stay updated on future posts, follow my Twitter here,  like my Facebook page here, and you can join my Discord here. You can view the other posts in this series here.

1961-1962: Good Success

After the 1960 season, the Tigers decided to hire Bob Scheffing as their manager, and Rick Ferrell as their GM. In their first season, the Tigers won 101 games and finished just 8 games behind the Yankees. Norm Cash won the AL batting crown, as he hit .361 with 41 homers and 132 RBI. Frank Lary lead the pitching with a 23-9 record and a 3.24 ERA.

The next year, the Tigers once again had a good season, going 85-76, but they still only finished third in the AL. Al Kaline hit .304 with 29 home runs and 94 RBI, while Jim Bunning led the pitching with a 19-10 record and a 3.59 ERA.

1963-1965: Average Seasons

in 1963, after the Tigers started off winning just 24 of their first 60 games, the Tigers fired Bob Scheffing and hired Chuck Dresson on June 18. He led the team to a 79-83 record, despite coming in to manage a team 12 games under .500. Al Kaline hit .312 with 27 homers and 101 RBI, and Hank Aguirre was their best pitcher with a 14-15 record and a 3.67 ERA.

The next year, the Tigers were 85-77, as they finished 4th in the AL. Bob Scheffing joined Ernie Harwell in the radio booth of WKMH. Bill Freehan hit .300 with 18 homers and 80 RBI. And Dave Wickersham had a 19-12 record and 3.44 ERA.

In 1965, the Tigers finished 16 games over .500 despite changing managers throughout the year. During spring training, Chuck Dressen had problems with his heart, so Bob Swift had to step in until Dressen returned on May 31. Willie Horton hit .273 with 29 homers and 104 RBI. And Hank Aguirre was 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA.

1966

In 1966, the Tigers won one less game than the previous year but still moved up to third in the AL. Chuck Dressen managed until May 16, but was sidelined with a heart attack and ended up dying in August. Bob Swift took over for the Tigers when Dressen was sidelined, and Swift was appearing to be doing a good job leading the team until he went to the hospital during all-star break and a test showed he had lung cancer. Unfortunately, he would die in October after the season. Frank Skaff took over for the team after Swift was sidelined.

Al Kaline lead the team in hitting with a .288 average,  29 homers and 88 RBI. And Denny McLain led the team in pitching with a 20-14 record and 3.92 ERA.

1967-1968 New Leader and Championship

After the 1966 season, Mayo Smith was hired as the new manager of the Tigers, He quickly led the team to a 91 win season, and they finished tied for 2nd in the AL. Al Kaline had a breakout year with a .308 average, 25 homers and 78 RBI. And Earl Wilson was a great pitcher with a 22-11 record and 3.27 ERA.

In 1968, the Tigers won the pennant, and eventually, beat the St Louis. Cardinals in a 7 game World Series. Mickey Lolich won the World Series MVP after pitching 3 complete games and winning all three. During the regular season, Willie Horton batted .285 with 36 home runs and 85 RBI. Denny McLain won the Cy Young and AL MVP after an amazing 31-6 record and 1.96 ERA.

1969-1970 Division Play

After the 1968 MLB season, the league decided that the AL and NL would each be split into 2 divisions, and the 2 teams that won their divisions in each league would play in a best of 5 league championship series. In the 1969 season, the Tigers won 90 games, but they still finished 19 games back of an amazing 109-53 Baltimore Orioles team. Jim Northrup led the team in hitting with a .295 average 25 home runs and 66 RBI. And Denny McLain once again led the team in pitching with a 24-9 record and 2.80 ERA. He won the AL Cy Young again.

In 1970, the Tigers went back to mediocrity with a 79-83 record, good for 4th in the 6 team AL East. Willie Horton hit 17 home runs and drove in 69 RBI while batting .305, and Les Cain was their best pitcher with 12-7 record and 3.84 ERA.

This wraps up another decade in Tigers history. Make sure you stay tuned for more posts in the History of the Tigers series.