|Dates:||October 2–October 10|
|MVP:||Mickey Lolich (Detroit)|
|TV announcers:||Curt Gowdy, Harry Caray (Games 1–2, 6–7), George Kell (Games 3–5)|
|Radio announcers:||Pee Wee Reese, Ernie Harwell (Games 1–2, 6–7), Jack Buck (Games 3–5)|
|Umpires:||Tom Gorman (NL), Jim Honochick (AL), Stan Landes (NL), Bill Kinnamon (AL), Doug Harvey (NL), Bill Haller (AL)|
|Future Hall of Famers:|| Tigers: Al Kaline, Eddie Mathews.|
Cardinals: Red Schoendienst‡ (mgr.), Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson.
‡ elected as a player.
| World Series
The 1968 World Series featured the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, with the Tigers winning in seven games for their first championship since 1945, and the third in their history. The Tigers came back from a 3–1 deficit to win three in a row, largely on the arm of MVP Mickey Lolich, who won three complete games in a single World Series, a feat that has not been duplicated since, as of 2008. In his third appearance in the Series, Lolich had to pitch after only two days' rest in the deciding Game 7, because regular-season 31-game winner Denny McLain had proven ineffective in the postseason. In Game 5, the Tigers' hopes for the title would have been very much in jeopardy had Bill Freehan not tagged out Lou Brock in a home plate collision when Brock mistakenly elected not to slide and went in standing up. Replays showed that the umpire clearly made the correct call on the play.
The narrow win for the Tigers was due, in small part, to a bold gamble by Manager Mayo Smith. The Tigers rotated four good hitting outfielders during the season (Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Al Kaline, and Jim Northrup); in an effort to get all four into the lineup in the World Series, Smith moved center fielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop (replacing Ray Oyler, who batted .135 during the season) even though he had never played there in his minor or major league career. The gamble paid off as Al Kaline batted .379 with eleven hits including two home runs and eight RBIs, Jim Northrup knocked in eight runs to go along with his two home runs, and Willie Horton hit .304 with a home run and six runs scored while Stanley made only two insignificant errors. Oyler was a late-inning defensive replacement in all 4 Detroit wins, similar to Leo Durocher of the Yankees in 1928 (4 games) and Jack Reed (3 of 4 Yankee wins) in 1961.
The 1968 season was tagged "The Year of the Pitcher", and the Series featured dominant performances from Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, MVP of the 1964 World Series and 1967 World Series. Gibson came into the Series with a stunning regular-season Earned Run Average of just 1.12, and he would pitch complete games in Games 1, 4, and 7. He was the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4. In Game 1, he threw a shutout, striking out seventeen batters, besting Sandy Koufax's 1963 record by two, and which still stands as the World Series record as of 2007. In Game 4, a solo home run by Jim Northrup was the only offense the Tigers were able to muster, as Gibson struck out ten batters. In Game 7, Gibson was defeated by series MVP Mickey Lolich, allowing three runs on four straight hits in the decisive seventh inning, although the key play was a triple that was seemingly misplayed by Flood in center field which could have been the third out with no runs scoring.
The Series saw the Cardinals lose a Game 7 for the first time in their history. The Tigers were the third team to come back from a three games to one deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series, the first two being the 1925 Pirates and the 1958 Yankees. Later, the 1979 Pirates, and 1985 Royals would accomplish this feat. The 1903 Red Sox came back from a three games to one deficit in the 1903 World Series, which was played under a best-of-nine format (5 wins needed for a champion).
The two teams met again in the 2006 World Series. The Cardinals once again raced to a three games to one lead, but didn't relinquish it as they captured the championship in five games. That would give the Cardinals the "rubber match" of their other two encounters in 1934 and 1968.
This was the last World Series to be played before the introduction of divisional play in Major League Baseball, and subsequent expansion of the postseason to include the League Championship Series. In his book about the history of the World Series, historian Lee Allen made the point that it was the last "pure" World Series, in the sense that divisional play would raise the possibility that the team with the best record from one or both leagues might not get into the Series, which has proven to be an accurate prediction (both teams in 2006, for example).
|1||Detroit Tigers – 0, St. Louis Cardinals – 4||October 2||Busch Stadium (II)||54,692|
|2||Detroit Tigers – 8, St. Louis Cardinals – 1||October 3||Busch Stadium (II)||54,692|
|3||St. Louis Cardinals – 7, Detroit Tigers – 3||October 5||Tiger Stadium||53,634|
|4||St. Louis Cardinals – 10, Detroit Tigers – 1||October 6||Tiger Stadium||53,634|
|5||St. Louis Cardinals – 3, Detroit Tigers – 5||October 7||Tiger Stadium||53,634|
|6||Detroit Tigers – 13, St. Louis Cardinals – 1||October 9||Busch Stadium (II)||54,692|
|7||Detroit Tigers – 4, St. Louis Cardinals – 1||October 10||Busch Stadium (II)||54,692|
HRs: STL – Lou Brock (1)
No adjective could describe Bob Gibson's performance in Game 1. The menacing right-hander shut out the Tigers on five hits and struck out a World Series-record seventeen.
The Cardinals broke through with three in the fourth off Denny McLain. After walks to Roger Maris and Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon singled home Maris and went to second when Tigers' center fielder Jim Northrup misplayed the ball. McCarver pulled in at third. Julian Javier followed by singling in both runners to make it 3–0. Lou Brock added a solo homer in the seventh for good measure.
HRs: DET – Willie Horton (1), Mickey Lolich (1), Norm Cash (1)
Mickey Lolich wasn't as dominating for the Tigers as Gibson in Game 1, striking out "only" nine, but the result was the same as the Tigers evened the Series.
Willie Horton homered in the second and Lolich helped his own cause with a solo homer in the third off Nelson Briles. The Tigers broke it open in the sixth when Norm Cash led off with another solo homer and Dick McAuliffe had a two-run single.
Orlando Cepeda put the Cardinals on the board with an RBI single in the sixth, but that would be all. Jim Northrup drove in Al Kaline with a double play in the seventh, and the Tigers got their last two runs on bases loaded walks to Don Wert and Lolich.
HRs: STL – Tim McCarver (1), Orlando Cepeda (1) DET – Al Kaline (1), Dick McAuliffe (1)
Al Kaline started the scoring with a two-run homer in the third, but the Cards came back in the fifth on an RBI double by Curt Flood and a three-run homer by Tim McCarver off Pat Dobson. The Tigers cut the deficit to one on a Dick McAuliffe solo shot, but Orlando Cepeda put the game out of reach in the seventh by belting a three-run shot.
HRs: STL – Lou Brock (2), Bob Gibson (1) DET – Jim Northrup (1)
Denny McLain, a 31-game winner in the regular season, wasn't proving to be much in this World Series, as this one-sided matchup with Bob Gibson proved. Lou Brock led the game off with a homer and Mike Shannon added an RBI single in the first. Two more runs came home in the third on a Tim McCarver RBI triple and a Mike Shannon RBI double. Heavy rains in Detroit led to a one-hour, 15-minute rain delay; after play resumed, Gibson would help his cause and add to the damage by homering off McLain in the fourth, after which Brock tripled and scored on a groundout by Roger Maris.
The Cards' final runs came in the eighth when Gibson walked with the bases loaded, forcing in a run, and Brock cleared the bases with a double. Brock missed hitting for the cycle by a single. The Tigers' only run came in the fourth when Jim Northrup homered off Gibson.
Other than that, Gibson was near-perfect, pitching his second complete game with ten strikeouts. The Cards now had a commanding 3–1 lead.
HRs: STL – Orlando Cepeda (2)
With the season on the line, the Tigers trotted out Game 2 winner Mickey Lolich. Lolich's start in this game was not too promising, as he surrendered an RBI single to Curt Flood and two-run homer to Orlando Cepeda. But, Lolich would settle into a groove, striking out eight, and the Cardinals would score no more.
Norm Cash began the comeback with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, followed by a Jim Northrup RBI single. In the fifth, the Cardinals had a chance to go up by two when Lou Brock doubled with one out. Julian Javier followed with a base-hit to left. Willie Horton came up with the ball and fired home. Surprisingly, instead of sliding, Brock tried to bowl over Detroit catcher Bill Freehan. Freehan held onto the ball, Brock was retired, and the last Card threat was squelched.
Cardinals starter Nelson Briles left the game in the seventh with a man on in favor of Joe Hoerner. The Tigers would stage their game-winning rally off Hoerner as Al Kaline plated two runs with a single and Cash drove home the final run with a single.
HRs: DET – Jim Northrup (2), Al Kaline (2)
Needing two wins in the opposing ball park to win the Series, Tigers manager Mayo Smith went with Denny McLain, even though the 31-game winner hadn't been effective in his previous two Series starts. The gamble paid off as McLain gave the Tigers a complete game in a 13–1 rout.
The rout began innocently enough in the second on RBI hits by Willie Horton and Bill Freehan. In the third, however, the floodgates opened for the Tigers off three Cardinal pitchers. They batted around in a World Series-record ten-run inning that saw Jim Northrup hit a grand slam and Al Kaline and Norm Cash both collect a pair of RBI-producing hits (including a two-run single for Kaline). Horton had another RBI single in the rally. Kaline added a solo homer in the fifth as icing on the cake.
HRs: STL – Mike Shannon (1)
In a fitting end to this Series, the two teams' hottest pitchers, Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson squared off in what was almost a classic duel, but was broken on an untimely fielding misplay. This was the 2nd consecutive year that Game 7 of the World Series featured two opposing pitchers with 2-0 won-lost records. (Bob Gibson) vs. Jim Lonborg in 1967).
Lolich and Gibson matched zeros for six innings, but, in the top of the seventh, Gibson surrendered two-out hits to Norm Cash and Willie Horton. Jim Northrup then lifted what looked like a routine deep fly to center, but Curt Flood slipped down while chasing it. The ball fell harmlessly to the warning track, Northrup had a triple, and Lolich had all the runs he needed. Bill Freehan would double in Northrup and Don Wert would add an RBI single in the ninth. Bob Gibson, though losing to end his streak of 7 consecutive World Series wins, pitched the his 8th consecutive World Series complete game (being allowed to bat in the 8th inning) to set the National League record. The major league record is 9 consecutive complete games by Chief Bender of the Philadelphia Athletics. It turned out to be Gibson's final World Series.
The Cardinals would get a run with 2 men out in the ninth on a Mike Shannon homer, but that was all as Lolich would pitch his third complete game. Gibson struck out eight in the losing cause, giving him a World Series record of 35 strikeouts by one pitcher in a Series.
Gibson has tied the record of Sandy Koufax, fifteen strikeouts in a single World Series game. Trying for number sixteen right now against Cash to break the record. He takes his set position, he delivers, here's the pitch...Swing and a miss, he did it!—Ernie Harwell, calling Bob Gibson's record-setting 16th strikeout in Game 1 on NBC Radio.
Just think, he's accounted for sixteen of the putouts all by himself...He got him! Struck him out! Look at the scene on the field, McCarver the first one! Now these infielders all over him! A new World Series record of seventeen strikeouts in one game!—Harry Caray, calling Gibson's seventeenth strikeout on NBC television.
Its a happy bunch of Tigers!—Harry Caray, describing the scene after the final out in Game 7 on NBC television.
|St. Louis Cardinals||5||0||2||5||4||1||4||4||2||27||61||2
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Total attendance: 379,670 Average attendance: 54,239</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Winning player’s share: $10,937 Losing player’s share: $7,079</td></tr>
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 1 - Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 2 - Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 3 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 4 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 5 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 6 - Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- ↑ 1968 World Series Game 7 - Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-04.
- Cantor, George. (1997). The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-878-33928-0.
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. (1990). The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins. ISBN 0-312-03960-3.
- Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2176. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-025-79010-2.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1968 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.