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The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are in the American League Central. Since 1992 they have been owned by Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza and owner of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.

Franchise history[]


Center fielder Curtis Granderson and Right fielder Gary Sheffield talk in between innings.

The Detroit club is a charter member of the major American League, one of four clubs (with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Cleveland Indians) who remain in their 1901 cities. Detroit is also the only member of the preceding minor Western League that remains in a WL city; indeed, it was a charter member in 1894.

The early years[]

Detroit's first major league entry was the Detroit Wolverines, members of the National League from 1881 through 1888. The nickname, now associated with the University of Michigan, came from Michigan's nickname, "The Wolverine State". The Wolverines' best year was 1887 when they won the National League pennant and won the World Series with the American Association champion St. Louis Browns. The leading players were Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, Deacon White, pitcher Charlie Getzein, and Hall of Famers "Big Sam" Thompson and Dan Brouthers. Thompson won the 1887 NL batting championship, so he is the answer to the trivia question, "Who won the National League batting championship while playing for Detroit?"

Despite the championship, the team did not draw enough fans to stay solvent at the major league level, as Detroit had not yet become the large, industrial city it is today. Hall of Fame manager Ned Hanlon played all eight seasons in center field but there was high turnover otherwise. After the 1888 season, the team disbanded and the city was relegated to minor league status. One new club formed and joined the International League in 1889, and promptly won the league championship. Their fans' joy came to an abrupt end when the league temporarily disbanded in mid-1890 and took the Detroits with it. An attempt was made to revive the old Northwestern League in 1891, but it also collapsed in mid-season, and Detroit professional baseball took a short hiatus.

Another Detroit club was a charter member when the Western League reorganized for the 1894 season. By 1896, they were sometimes called "Tigers" (see below). They had also built a ballpark at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, which would remain their base of operations for the next 104 seasons. When the Western renamed itself the American League for 1900, it was still a minor league, but next year it broke with the National Agreement and declared itself major, openly competing with the National League for players, and for fans in three contested cities. For a few years there were rumors of abandoning Detroit to compete for Cincinnati or Pittsburgh but the two leagues made peace in 1903 after similar moves into St Louis and New York.

The Detroit Tigers played their first game as a major league team at home against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 25, 1901, with 10,000 fans at Bennett Park. After entering the ninth inning behind 13-4, the team staged a dramatic comeback to win 14-13. That team finished third in the eight-team league.

Eleven years later, an elegant stadium was constructed on the site of Bennett Park and named Navin Field for owner Frank Navin. It was later renamed "Briggs Stadium", and finally "Tiger Stadium" in 1961. Tiger Stadium was used by the Tigers until the end of the 1999 season; from 2000 they have played in Comerica Park.

"The Tigers"[]

There are various legends about how the Tigers got their nickname. One concerns the orange stripes they wore on their black stockings. Another concerns a sportswriter equating the 1901 team's opening day victory with the ferocity of his alma mater, the Princeton Tigers.

The truth is revealed in Richard Bak's 1998 book, A Place for Summer: A Narrative History of Tiger Stadium. In the 19th century, the city of Detroit had a military unit called the Detroit Light Guard, who were known as "The Tigers". They had played significant roles in certain Civil War battles and in the 1899 Spanish-American War. The baseball team was informally called both "Wolverines" and "Tigers" in the news; upon entry into the majors the ballclub sought and received formal permission from the Light Guard to use its trademark and from that day forth it is officially the Tigers.

In short, the Tigers wore stripes because they were already Tigers, rather than the other way around which is the conventional story.

The Cobb era[]


Ty Cobb

In 1905, the team acquired Ty Cobb, a fearless player with a mean streak, who would be considered one of the greatest of all-time. The addition of Cobb to an already talented team that included Sam Crawford, Hughie Jennings, Bill Donovan, and George Mullin quickly yielded results, as the Tigers won their first American League pennant in 1907.

Cobb and the Tigers disappointed in the 1907 Fall Classic against the Chicago Cubs. With the exception of Game 1, which ended in a rare tie, the Tigers failed to score more than one run in any game and lost four straight. The Cubs would deny Detroit the title again in '08, holding Detroit to a .209 batting average for the series, which the Cubs again won in five games. It was hoped that a new opponent in the 1909 Series, Pittsburgh, would yield different results, but the Tigers were blown out 8-0 in the decisive seventh game at Forbes Field.

In the teens and twenties, Cobb remained the marquee player on many Tigers teams that would remain mired in the middle of the American League. Cobb himself took over managerial duties in 1921, but during six years at the helm, his Tigers never had a record better than 86-68.

The Tigers break through[]

The Tiger teams of the 1930s were consistently among the league's best with "Black Mike" Mickey Cochrane behind the plate, Hank Greenberg, one of the greatest Jewish baseball players of all time, at first, and Charlie Gehringer, "The Mechanical Man" at second. They would be denied again in the 1934 World Series in seven games by the Gashouse Gang St. Louis Cardinals. Again, when the chips were down in the deciding game, Detroit folded, giving up seven third-inning runs and losing Game Seven 11-0 at Navin Field (Tiger Stadium). The game was marred by an ugly incident. After spiking Tiger third baseman Marv Owen in the sixth inning, the Cardinals' Joe "Ducky" Medwick had to be removed from the game for his own safety by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis after being pelted with fruit and garbage from angry fans in the large temporary bleacher section in left field.

The Tigers finally reached the Promised Land the following year, defeating the Cubs 4 games to 2 to win the 1935 World Series, which concluded with Goose Goslin's dramatic walk-off single, scoring Cochrane to seal the victory.

The Tigers returned to the middle of the American League in the late 30s and World War II era before the timely return of Hank Greenberg from the military helped the Tigers to the 1945 American League pennant. With Virgil Trucks and Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser on the mound and Greenberg leading the Tiger bats, Detroit responded in a Game 7 for the first time, staking Newhouser to a 5-0 lead before he threw a pitch en route to a 9-3 victory over the Cubs. Because many baseball stars had not yet returned from the military, some baseball scholars have deemed the '45 Series to be among the worst-played contests in Series history. Prior to the Series, Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown was asked who he liked, and he answered, "I don't think either one of them can win it!" But the Cubs had no answer to Greenberg, and the Series went Detroit's way.

Glory in '68[]

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers team logo from 1961-1993

Detroit began its slow ascent to success by an outstanding 1961 campaign which saw them win 101 games, 8 games back of New York, one of the few times a team had failed to reach the postseason despite winning over 100 games. That year also saw first baseman Norm Cash have the best batting average in the American League—a remarkably high .361. Previously, teammate Al Kaline won the batting crown in 1955 at age 20—the youngest player ever to do so. During this time, several players besides Cash and Kaline became established on the Detroit roster who would prove key to the success that followed. Thereafter, they would post winning records yearly except 1963. After falling just short in 1967 (being eliminated on the last day of the season), the stage was set for their historic 1968 campaign, the last under a one-division format.

The 1968 title, which occurred one year after the riots ravaged Detroit, is thought to have helped to heal citywide tensions. The Tigers easily won the American League with many dramatic, come-from-behind victories during the regular season. In the "Year of the Pitcher", the controversial Denny McLain became the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean in 1934 to win 30 games with a 31-6 record.

In Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, McLain was overshadowed by Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson, who struck out 17 Tigers in a 4-0 shutout. The Tiger bats won the day in the second game in St. Louis. Mickey Lolich held St. Louis to a single run on six hits and added a home run in his own cause. The Tigers lost badly in Games 3 and 4 at Tiger Stadium, 7-3 and 10-1. In Game 4, some accounts accused Tigers manager Mayo Smith of stalling in hopes that the game would be washed out by an approaching storm. With their backs against the wall, Lolich took the mound again in Game 5. The Tigers were eight outs away from elimination before a two-run single from Al Kaline and another RBI by Norm Cash gave Detroit a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish. As the series returned to St. Louis, McLain pitched on two days' rest. Any concerns about the Tigers' ace having a sore arm were quickly laid to rest. The Tigers scored 10 runs in the third inning, including a grand slam from Jim Northrup, in a 13-1 laugher. The deciding Game 7 pitted Lolich, pitching on two days rest, against Gibson. The Tigers struck first with a Jim Northrup's triple scoring Cash and Willie Horton to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Catcher Bill Freehan added a double to give Lolich a 3-0 lead with nine outs to go. Don Wert's RBI single in the ninth added an insurance run, and a ninth-inning solo shot from Mike Shannon of St. Louis was the Cards' only response. Tim McCarver, the next batter, popped up to Freehan in foul territory and the Tigers were Champions of baseball again.

A slow decline[]

Detroit finished second to the dominant Baltimore Orioles, who won 109 games, in defense of their '68 title. Smith was let go after the 1970 season, to be replaced by Billy Martin. After a second-place finish in 1971, the Tigers captured the American League East title in 1972. Oddities of the schedule due to an early-season strike allowed the Tigers to win the division by just ½ game, just as they had in 1908.

In Game 1 of the ALCS in Oakland, Lolich, the hero of '68, took the hill and went nine innings. Al Kaline hit a solo homer to break a 1-1 tie in the 11th inning, only to be charged with an error on Gonzalo Marquez's game-tying single that allowed Gene Tenace to score the winning run. Blue Moon Odom shut down Detroit 5-0 in Game 2. As the series returned to Detroit, the Tigers caught their stride. Joe Coleman held the A's scoreless on seven hits in Game 3, a 3-0 Tiger victory. In Game 4, Oakland score two runs in the top of the 10th put the Tigers down to their last three outs. Detroit pushed two runs across the plate to tie the game before Jim Northrup came through in the clutch again. His single off Dave Hamilton scored Gates Brown and evened the series at 2 games apiece. A first-inning run on a Gene Tenace passed ball gave Detroit an early lead in the deciding Game 5 in Oakland, but Reggie Jackson's steal of home in the 2nd tied it up. A Gene Tenace single to left field gave Oakland a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, and thanks to four innings of scoreless relief from Vida Blue they took it all the way to the World Series.

Martin did not survive the 1973 season and the Tigers spent much of the next decade in the middle or lower ranks of the AL East. In 1974, Ralph Houk, who managed the dominant Yankee teams of the early 1960s, was named manager of the Tigers. "The Major" served in that capacity for five full seasons, through the end of the 1978 season. Unfortunately, the roster of players who played under Houk were mostly aging veterans from the 1960s, whose performance had slipped from their peak years. Tiger fans were provided a glimmer of hope when rookie phenom Mark Fidrych made his debut in 1976. Fidrych, known as "the Bird," was a crazy character known for talking to the baseball. During a game against the Yankees, Graig Nettles responded to Fidrych's antics by talking to his bat. After making an out, he later lamented that his Japanese-made bat didn't understand him. Fidrych was the starting pitcher for the American League in the All Star Game played that year in Philadelphia to celebrate the American Bicentennial. He finished the season with a record of 19-9 and an American League-leading ERA of2.34. Sadly, Fidrych was the lone bright spot that year, with those Tigers finishing next to last in the AL East in 1976 and arm troubles ruining Fidrych's once-promising career. Unfortunately, Mark passed away at his farm in Massachusetts on April 13, 2009, while working on his truck.

The "Bless You Boys"[]

From 1979 to 1995, the team was managed by the colorful, eccentric George "Sparky" Anderson, one of baseball's winningest managers. When Sparky came on board, he made the bold move of predicting a pennant winner within 5 years.



Animated Detroit Tigers Logo ca. 1990

The first major news of the 1984 season actually came in late 1983, when long-time owner, broadcasting magnate John Fetzer, who had owned the club since 1957, sold the team to Domino's Pizza founder and CEO Tom Monaghan. The sale of the franchise caught everyone by surprise, as the negotiations culminating in the sale of the franchise were conducted in total secrecy away from the media. There were no rumors or even speculation that Fetzer had put the franchise up for sale.

After acquiring the team, Monaghan told reporters that buying the team fulfilled his childhood dream of owning the Detroit Tigers. However, the pizza magnate probably didn't think that he would win a World Series the first year he owned the team. But the 1984 Tigers did just that, thereby going beyond Monaghan's wildest fantasies. The team led its division wire-to-wire, from opening day and every day thereafter, culminating in a ALCS sweep of the Kansas City Royals and a World Series victory over the San Diego Padres.

The 1984 team started out at a record 35-5 pace (including Jack Morris throwing a no-hitter early in the season against the Chicago White Sox), and cruised to a franchise-record 104 victories. That team featured the great double play combination of shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker; the duo would play together a record 19 seasons. The team also included Darrell Evans, Dave Bergman, Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, Larry Herndon, Morris, Dan Petry, Dave Rozema, Johnny Grubb, the late Aurelio Lopez ("Señor Smoke"), and relief ace Willie Hernandez, who won the 1984 American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player just one year after pitching on the Philadelphia Phillies' National League championship club.

The Tigers faced the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series, which would prove to be no contest, not surprising given the fact the Royals won 20 fewer games during the season and had won the AL West by a mere three games over both the California Angels and Minnesota Twins. In Game 1, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Larry Herndon went deep to crush the Royals 8-1 at Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium). In Game 2, the Tigers scored twice in the 11th inning when Johnny Grubb doubled off the late Royals closer Dan Quisenberry en route to a 5-3 victory. The Tigers completed the sweep at Tiger Stadium in Game 3. Marty Castillo's third-inning RBI fielder's choice would be all the help Detroit would need. Milt Wilcox outdueled Charlie Leibrandt and after Hernandez got Darryl Motley to pop up to third, the Tigers were returning to the Fall Classic. (Note: At that time, the team with home field advantage in the ALCS and NLCS, played the first two games on the road. This changed in 1985 when the format was changed from best-of-five to best-of-seven.)

In the NLCS, a San Diego rally from 2-0 down prevented a fifth Cubs-Tigers series and meant the Tigers would open the 1984 World Series against the San Diego Padres in Trammell's home town (had the Cubs won the NLCS, Detroit would have received home-field advantage in the World Series, as NBC insisted on all midweek games starting at night, something that would have been impossible at the time at Wrigley Field). In Game 1, Larry Herndon hit a two-run dinger that gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Morris pitched a complete game with 2 runs on 8 hits, and Detroit took first blood. The Padres evened the series the next night despite pitcher Ed Whitson being chased after two-thirds of an inning after giving up three runs on five Tiger hits. Tiger starter Dan Petry didn't last long either, exiting the game after four and one-third innings when light-hitting veteran Kurt Bevacqua's three-run homer gave San Diego a 5-3 lead they would hold onto. When the series returned to the Motor City, the Tigers took charge. In Game 3, a two-out rally in the second inning led to four runs and the yanking of Padre starter Tim Lollar after one and two-thirds innings. The Padres, plagued by poor starting pitching throughout the series, never recovered and lost 5-2. Eric Show continued the parade of bad outings in Game 4, getting bounced after two and two-thirds innings after giving up home runs to Series MVP Trammell in his first two at-bats. Trammell's homers held up with the help of another Morris complete game, and the Tigers held a commanding lead.

In Game 5, Gibson's two-run shot in the first inning would be the beginning of another early end for the Padres' starter Mark Thurmond. Though the Padres would pull back even, chasing Dan Petry in the fourth inning in the process, the Tigers retook the lead on a Rusty Kuntz sacrifice fly, doubled it on a solo homer by Parrish and then sealed the victory by Gibson's three-run homer off Goose Gossage in the eighth.

A "Sounds of the Game" video was made during the Series by MLB Productions and played on TV a number of times since then. When Gibson came to bat, in a situation that might call for Gossage to pitch around him, Anderson was seen and heard yelling to Gibson, "He don't want to walk you!" and making a swing-the-bat gesture. As Anderson had suspected, Gossage came in with a fast one, and Gibson was ready. He "swung from the heels", and launched it into Tiger Stadium's right field upper deck.

Tony Gwynn flied out to Larry Herndon to end the game and send Detroit into a wild victory celebration.


After a pair of disappointing third-place finishes in 1985 and 1986, the 1987 Tigers faced lowered expectations - which seemed to be confirmed by an 11-19 start to the season. However, the team hit its stride thereafter and gradually gained ground on its AL East rivals. This charge was fueled in part by the acquisition of pitcher Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher John Smoltz. Alexander started 11 games for the Tigers, posting 9 wins without a loss and a 1.53 ERA. (The deal came at a price, however: Detroit native Smoltz went on to have a long, productive career with the Braves and would later win a Cy Young Award.)

Despite their improvement, with one week remaining in the season the Tigers found themselves three and a half games behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays. The two teams would square off in seven hard-fought games during the final two weeks of the season. All seven games were decided by one run, and in the first six of the seven games, the winning run was scored in the final inning of play. At Exhibition Stadium, the Tigers dropped three in a row to the Blue Jays before winning a dramatic extra-inning showdown. After a series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Tigers returned home trailing by a game and swept the Blue Jays. Detroit clinched the division in a 1-0 victory over Toronto in front of 51,005 fans at Tiger Stadium on Sunday afternoon, October 4. Frank Tanana went all nine innings for the complete game shutout, and outfielder Larry Herndon gave the Tigers their lone run on a second-inning home run. Detroit finished the season a Major League-best 98-64, two games ahead of Toronto.

In what would prove to be their last postseason appearance for 19 years, the Tigers lost the 1987 American League Championship Series to the underdog Minnesota Twins (who would go on to win the World Series) in five games.

Late 1980s - Early 1990s[]

The Tigers proved unable to build upon their 1987 division title. In 1988, the team spent much of the season in first place in the AL East, only to slump late in the season and finish 88-74, one game behind division-winning Boston. In 1989 the team collapsed to a 59-103 record, worst in the majors. The franchise then attempted to rebuild around a power-hitting lineup, with Cecil Fielder, Rob Deer and Mickey Tettleton joining Trammell and Whitaker in the lineup. In 1990, Fielder led the American League with 51 home runs (becoming the first player to hit 50 since George Foster in 1977), and finished second in the voting for AL Most Valuable Player. He hit 44 home runs in 1991, and would hit at least 28 in the next four seasons. Behind the hitting of Fielder and others, the Tigers improved, posting winning records in 1991 (84-78) and 1993 (85-77). However, the team lacked high-quality pitching, and its core of key players began to age, setting the franchise up for decline.

Recent Futility[]

From 1994 to 2005, the Tigers did not post a winning record. This is by far the longest sub-.500 stretch in franchise history; prior to this, the team had not gone more than four consecutive seasons without a winning record. The team's best record over that time was 79-83, recorded in 1997 and 2000. In 1996, the Tigers lost a then-team record 109 games. In 2003, the Tigers shattered that mark, losing an American League-record 119 games, eclipsing the previous record of 116 losses set by the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics. On August 30, 2003, the Tigers' defeat to the Chicago White Sox cause them to join the 1962 New York Mets as the only modern MLB teams to lose 100 games before September. They avoided tying the 1962 Mets' modern MLB record for losses (120) only by winning five of their last six games of the season.

The collapse of the franchise was blamed by many on then-general manager Randy Smith. Under Smith, the Tigers spent numerous high draft picks on players who did not fulfill their potential. As a consequence, the franchise's minor-league system struggled, providing little help to the major-league club. In addition, Smith traded away numerous quality players, such as Luis Gonzalez and Phil Nevin, without receiving comparable talent in return. Smith's most controversial move as GM backfired heavily; in an effort to acquire a star player that would draw fans to new Comerica Park in 2000, he sent six players - including Frank Catalanotto, Justin Thompson, Gabe Kapler and Francisco Cordero - to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Juan Gonzalez, plus two unheralded players. Gonzalez played only 115 games in a Tigers uniform before suffering a season-ending injury, and he left the team as a free agent in the offseason.

Furthermore, Smith hamstrung the franchise by signing a number of players to lucrative long-term contracts, forcing the team to devote a significant portion of its payroll to players who had long outlived their usefulness. Examples of such long-term signings include Dean Palmer, Damion Easley, and Bobby Higginson.

In July 2005, listed Randy Smith as "the most hated man" among Tigers fans.

Rebuilding the Franchise[]

In 2000, the team left legendary Tiger Stadium, then tied with Fenway Park as the oldest active baseball stadium, in favor of the new Comerica Park. This capped an argument, which had lasted more than a decade, about whether or not a new stadium was needed to keep the club competitive. Many longtime fans complained that the new stadium lacked the charm of its predecessor, while others saw it as a necessary replacement of an aging facility.

Soon after it opened, Comerica Park drew criticism for its deep dimensions, which made it difficult to hit home runs; the distance to left-center field (395 feet), in particular, was seen as unfair to hitters. In 2003, the franchise largely quieted the criticism by moving in the left-center fence to 370 feet.

In late 2001, Dave Dombrowski, former general manager of the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins, was hired as team president. The move was thought to signify Ilitch's dissatisfaction with the team's direction. In 2002, the Tigers started the season 0-6, prompting Dombrowski to fire Smith, as well as manager Phil Garner. Dombrowski then took over as general manager.

Under Dombrowski, the Tigers have shown a willingness to sign marquee free agents. In 2004, the team signed or traded for several talented but high-risk veterans, such as Iván Rodríguez, Ugueth Urbina, Rondell White, and Carlos Guillén, and the gamble paid off. The 2004 Tigers finished 72-90, a 29-game improvement over the previous season - the largest improvement in the American League since Baltimore's 33-game improvement from 1988 to 1989.

Prior to the 2005 season, the Tigers spent a large sum for two prized free agents, Magglio Ordóñez and Troy Percival. On June 8, 2005, the Tigers traded pitcher Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez to the Philadelphia Phillies for Plácido Polanco (and later signed him for 4 years). The Tigers stayed on the fringes of contention for the American League wild card for the first four months of the season, but then faded badly, finishing 71-91. The collapse was perceived as being due both to injuries and to a lack of player unity; Rodriguez in particular was disgruntled, taking a leave of absence during the season to deal with a difficult divorce. On account of the poor clubhouse atmosphere and lack of continued improvement, Trammell was fired at the end of the season.

A highlight of the 2005 campaign was Detroit's hosting of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, its first since 1971. In the Home Run Derby, Rodriguez finished second, losing to the Phillies' Bobby Abreu.

In October 2005, Jim Leyland replaced Trammell as manager; two months later, closer Todd Jones, who had spent five seasons in Detroit (1997-2001), signed a two-year deal with the Tigers. Veteran left-hander Kenny Rogers also joined the Tigers in late 2005, bringing 190 career wins and a 4.21 lifetime ERA to the club's 2006 rotation.

2006: The Tigers roar once more[]

The Detroit Tigers have been baseball's surprise success story of 2006. After years of being a laughingstock of the major leagues, the Tigers surged to the top of the American League standings in the first half of the 2006 season. The play of veterans like Rogers and Jones, the emergence of young talents Curtis Granderson, Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames, and significant production from erstwhile All-Stars Iván Rodríguez, Magglio Ordóñez and Carlos Guillén have all contributed to the team's success.

A great deal of credit has also been given to Leyland. On April 17, after a loss to the Cleveland Indians that dropped the team's record to 7-7, he launched into a tirade against the team about its lack of effort, telling the media, "We stunk." It appeared to light a fire under the players, spurring them on to a stretch in which they won 28 of 35 games. Leyland has repeatedly preached the concept of playing hard for nine full innings, and the players have taken up that mantra, as evidenced not just by their words but also by the team's propensity for late-inning clutch hits, rallies and comebacks.

Statistically, the biggest factor in the team's success has been its pitching, which leads the major leagues in ERA, shutouts and saves. Rookie Justin Verlander is a candidate for the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards, and fellow starters Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson and rookie reliever Joel Zumaya all have had noteworthy seasons. There was concern when starter Mike Maroth had to undergo surgery early in the season, but his replacement Zach Miner has been more than adequate.

The team has held the best record in baseball for most of the season. The Tigers' newfound success has attracted a new generation of fans, many of whom who had never seen winning baseball in Detroit before. Tigers fans have traveled to road games in large numbers, most notably at the interleague series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field from June 16–18. The crowd could be heard chanting "Let's Go Tigers!" throughout all three games, all of which were Detroit victories. The crowd also took up a chant of "Rod-ney, Rod-ney" during pitcher Fernando Rodney's first career at bat on June 17.

One doubt many fans and pundits have had is whether the Tigers can compete against other top-tier American League teams. Early in the season, the team lost series to the Yankees and Red Sox, and lost five of six games to the reigning World Series champion Chicago White Sox. But on July 20, at a game which featured a particularly stirring rendition of the national anthem by local opera singer Eugene Zweig, and a standing-room-only crowd that included actor Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard, the Tigers beat White Sox pitching ace José Contreras to take the series, two games to one - from the Sox—the first series victory against an upper-echelon AL team this season. In their next two series, against the AL West division-leading Oakland A's, and the red-hot Minnesota Twins - 34-8 over their previous 42 games—the Tigers also won two out of three.

Despite this success, and despite the return of switch-hitting Dmitri Young from personal challenges, the popular opinion seemed to be that the Tigers needed additional left-handed hitting. On July 31, Tigers management traded a minor-league pitcher to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for left-handed hitting—and three-time All Star—first baseman Sean Casey.

There have been many memorable moments during the season:

• On April 15, Chris Shelton became the fastest player to eight home runs in American League history, and the Tigers won a 1-0 game behind a sparkling three-hitter by Mike Maroth and one-hit relief by Zumaya and Fernando Rodney.

• On April 19, the Tigers came into the ninth down 3-1, but clutch hits tied the game, and Brandon Inge's resolute 15-pitch walk (Leyland called it a "1½ Marlboro" at-bat) forced in the winning run.

• On May 5, in the eighth inning of a tense pitching duel, Brandon Inge beat a throw to second to avoid a double play, then Alexis Gomez singled him in for a 2-1 comeback victory.

• On May 20, Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam that put the Reds up, 6-5, but with two outs in the ninth inning, Curtis Granderson hit a home run that tied the game, and the Tigers won in extra innings.

• On June 2, hits by Rodríguez and Ordoñez (and gum-chewing by Nate Robertson) set up Carlos Guillén's game-winning ("walk-off") single, completing a five-run comeback and defeating the Yankees.

• On June 17, Kenny Rogers won his 200th game, becoming only the 26th left-hander in baseball history to do so.

• On June 27, future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens hurled a three-hitter, but Nate Robertson outpitched him and the Tigers won, 4-0.

• On July 15, in a tie game, with two out and two on in the top of the ninth, Todd Jones faced dangerous slugger Mark Teahen, who had already hit two home runs in the game. Jones threw Teahen every pitch he could, and Teahen repeatedly fouled each pitch off. Finally Jim Leyland walked to the mound—where he told Jones his visit was a ruse, designed to fool Teahen into thinking Jones would be throwing anything but a fastball. Leyland walked off the field, Jones threw a fastball, and Teahen swung and missed for strike three. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Guillén hit the Tigers' first walk-off home run of the season for the victory. After the game, Jones said of Leyland's visit to the mound: "I thought, ‘Wow, you’re a really good manager.’"

• On July 19, Craig Monroe hit a grand slam in a Tigers victory over the White Sox.

• On July 20 (see above), the Tigers essentially beat the White Sox on a Marcus Thames slide into second. The slide broke up a seemingly sure double play, which allowed the winning run to score later that inning.

• On July 29, the Tigers weathered 12 strikeouts by rookie Twins phenom Francisco Liriano, and won another tight game with a 10th-inning single by Craig Monroe.

• On August 1, Carlos Guillén hit for the cycle, becoming the first Tiger since 2001, and the third since 1950, to do so.

• On August 5, in perhaps the most dramatic ending this season, Iván Rodríguez hit a walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth inning to complete a five-run comeback against the Cleveland Indians.

• On August 15, during a victory over the Boston Red Sox, second baseman Placido Polanco suffered a separated shoulder and was placed on the disabled list. This was a blow to the Tigers, as they lost a .300 hitter who was fourth in the league in batting average with runners in scoring position at the time of his injury. Reserves Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago were tagged as his replacements during his recovery.

• On August 22, the Tigers secured their 81st victory of the season, 4-0, over the White Sox. The win assured the team of its first winning season since 1993 (4713 days between 9-26-93 (the last clinched winning season) and 8-22-2006).

All Star Game[]

For the first time since 1987—the last year the Tigers made the postseason—three Tigers were selected as participants in the 2006 All-Star game. Rodríguez, Rogers and Ordóñez were all named, with Rodríguez being voted into the starting lineup, while Rogers was named the starting pitcher by American League manager Ozzie Guillén. The battery combination of Rogers and Rodríguez was the first time a Tigers pitcher threw to a Tigers catcher to start the Mid-Summer Classic since Denny McLain threw to Bill Freehan in 1966.


A major rival of the Tigers is the Cleveland Indians, due more to geography than to competitiveness, as while both teams have been pennant contenders at various times, rarely have they both been in the pennant chase at the same time. The two cities are only 170 miles apart by car, and their fan bases overlap. Many of the local radio stations in small towns across Northern Ohio are on the Indians' radio network, while the Tigers' games were broadcast for many years on Detroit AM powerhouse WJR, whose clear channel signal is easily picked up across Northern Ohio. Thus, both teams have a large following across Northern Ohio. Perhaps symbolic of the overlapping fan bases is the city of Toledo, located just 60 miles from Detroit and 110 miles from Cleveland. The local newspaper, the Toledo Blade covers both teams extensively, and the Tigers AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens, has also been previously the AAA affiliate for the Indians as well.

The 2006 season has seen "mini-rivalries" develop with the White Sox and Twins. The White Sox and Twins are the other two contenders to possibly win the AL Central division. Everytime the Tigers play either team, there is a tense feeling in the stadium.

The Tigers' inter-league rivals include the teams that play in the National League Central Division, particularly the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. The rivalries are not limited to geography, but rather the history between the clubs. The Tigers have faced the Cubs in the World Series four times, the Cardinals twice, and the Cincinnati Reds once. This history has fueled a rather friendly rivalry, as fans of the clubs for the most part respect the success of another. Additionally, in some areas of Western Michigan baseball fans are split between Detroit and the Chicago teams (The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan is located almost directly between Detroit and Chicago on I-94). During a June 2006 series at Wrigley Field, Cubs fans could be seen openly rooting for the Tigers. The reasoning was that Cubs fans would rather see the Tigers do better than their hated inter-city rival, the Chicago White Sox. Inter-league games in Detroit featuring the Cubs and Cardinals have traditionally had a high rate of attendance no matter the Tigers' record.

The Tigers also have an "international" rivalry with the Toronto Blue Jays, much like the Red Wings of the NHL have a rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Detroit is just across the river from the Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario. Some baseball fans in Windsor choose to root for their nation's team rather than the nearby Tigers but the majority of Windsor baseball fans root for the Tigers.

Rally cry[]

During the 1968 season, the team was cheered on by the phrase, "Go Get 'Em Tigers."

During the 1984 World Championship Run, the team was cheered on to the well known cry, "Bless You Boys."

For the 2006 season, with the team going into July with the best record in baseball, the phrase "Restore the Roar" began to catch on, referring to the fact that the Tigers have not had a winning season since 1993 and seemed to be returning to their former glory.

A second rally cry has also now begun to catch on in the Tigers' dugout. In a June game vs. the New York Yankees, Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson was featured on FSN Detroit's "Sounds of the Game", in which the TV station will mic a player on the bench or a coach. To appease the fans, Nate began to stuff Big League Chew bubble gum into his mouth, hoping to spark a late-inning rally. The trend has caught on, with Jeremy Bonderman, Zach Miner, and Justin Verlander all chewing from time to time. The Tigers came back to tie the game, and the phrase "It's Gum Time" has become a new "Rally-cap" for Tigers nation.

Additionally, the chant of a local panhandler who patrols the streets around Comerica Park yelling out "Eat 'Em Up Tigers! Eat 'Em Up!", has begun to make its way into the park. The chant originated in 1968 when the Tigers won their third World Series, "Eat 'em Up" referring to the St. Louis Cardinals. People have even been seen wearing homemade shirts with the cheer written on the back as far away as Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Season records[]

Year Record ALDS (after 1995) ALCS (after 1969) World Series
1901 74-61 .548
(3rd in AL)
1902 52-83 .385
(7th in AL)
1903 65-71 .478
(5th in AL)
1904 62-90 .408
(7th in AL)
1905 79-74 .516
(3rd in AL)
1906 71-78 .477
(6th in AL)
1907 92-58 .613
(1st in AL)
Chicago Cubs L 4-0
1908 90-63 .588
(1st in AL)
Chicago Cubs L 4-1
1909 98-54 .645
(1st in AL)
Pittsburgh Pirates L 4-3
1910 86-68 .558
(3rd in AL)
1911 89-65 .578
(2nd in AL)
1912 69-84 .451
(6th in AL)
1913 66-87 .431
(6th in AL)
1914 80-73 .523
(4th in AL)
1915 100-54 .649
(2nd in AL)
1916 87-67 .565
(3rd in AL)
1917 78-75 .510
(4th in AL)
1918 55-71 .437
(7th in AL)
1919 80-60 .571
(4th in AL)
1920 71-82 .464
(6th in AL)
1921 71-82 .464
(6th in AL)
1922 79-75 .513
(3rd in AL)
1923 83-71 .539
(2nd in AL)
1924 86-68 .558
(3rd in AL)
1925 81-73 .526
(4th in AL)
1926 79-75 .513
(6th in AL)
1927 82-71 .536
(4th in AL)
1928 66-86 .442
(6th in AL)
1929 70-84 .455
(6th in AL)
1930 75-79 .487
(5th in AL)
1931 61-93 .396
(7th in AL)
1932 76-75 .503
(5th in AL)
1933 75-79 .487
(5th in AL)
1934 101-53 .656
(1st in AL)
St. Louis Cardinals L 4-3
1935 93-58 .616
(1st in AL)
Chicago Cubs W 4-2
1936 83-71 .539
(2nd in AL)
1937 89-65 .578
(2nd in AL)
1938 84-70 .545
(4th in AL)
1939 81-73 .526
(5th in AL)
1940 90-64 .584
(1st in AL)
Cincinnati Reds L 4-3
1941 75-79 .487
(4th in AL)
1942 73-81 .474
(5th in AL)
1943 78-76 .506
(5th in AL)
1944 88-66 .571
(2nd in AL)
1945 88-65 .575
(1st in AL)
Chicago Cubs W 4-3
1946 92-62 .597
(2nd in AL)
1947 85-69 .552
(2nd in AL)
1948 78-76 .506
(5th in AL)
1949 87-67 .565
(4th in AL)
1950 95-59 .617
(2nd in AL)
1951 73-81 .474
(5th in AL)
1952 50-104 .325
(8th in AL)
1953 60-94 .390
(6th in AL)
1954 68-86 .442
(5th in AL)
1955 79-75 .513
(5th in AL)
1956 82-72 .532
(5th in AL)
1957 78-76 .506
(4th in AL)
1958 77-77 .500
(5th in AL)
1959 76-78 .494
(4th in AL)
1960 71-83 .461
(6th in AL)
1961 101-61 .623
(2nd in AL)
1962 85-76 .528
(4th in AL)
1963 79-83 .488
(5th in AL)
1964 85-77 .525
(4th in AL)
1965 89-73 .549
(4th in AL)
1966 88-74 .543
(3rd in AL)
1967 91-71 .562
(3rd in AL)
1968 103-59 .636
(1st in AL)
St. Louis Cardinals W 4-3
1969 90-72 .556
(2nd in AL East)
1970 79-83 .488
(4th in AL East)
1971 91-71 .562
(2nd in AL East)
1972 86-70 .551
(1st in AL East)
Oakland Athletics L 3-2
1973 85-77 .525
(3rd in AL East)
1974 72-90 .444
(6th in AL East)
1975 57-102 .358
(6th in AL East)
1976 74-87 .460
(5th in AL East)
1977 74-88 .457
(4th in AL East)
1978 86-76 .531
(5th in AL East)
1979 85-76 .528
(5th in AL East)
1980 84-78 .519
(5th in AL East)
1981 60-49 .550
(4th/2nd in AL East)
1982 83-79 .512
(4th in AL East)
1983 92-70 .568
(2nd in AL East)
1984 104-58 .642
(1st in AL East)
Kansas City Royals W 3-0 San Diego Padres W 4-1
1985 84-77 .522
(3rd in AL East)
1986 87-75 .537
(3rd in AL East)
1987 98-64 .605
(1st in AL East)
Minnesota Twins L 4-1
1988 88-74 .543
(2nd in AL East)
1989 59-103 .364
(7th in AL East)
1990 79-83 .488
(3rd in AL East)
1991 84-78 .519
(2nd in AL East)
1992 75-87 .463
(6th in AL East)
1993 85-77 .525
(4th in AL East)
1994 53-62 .461
(5th in AL East)
No Postseason due to player strike
1995 60-84 .417
(4th in AL East)
1996 53-109 .327
(5th in AL East)
1997 79-83 .488
(3rd in AL East)
1998 65-97 .401
(5th in AL Central)
1999 69-92 .429
(3rd in AL Central)
2000 79-83 .488
(3rd in AL Central)
2001 66-96 .407
(4th in AL Central)
2002 55-106 .342
(5th in AL Central)
2003 43-119 .265
(5th in AL Central)
2004 72-90 .444
(4th in AL Central)
2005 71-91 .438
(4th in AL Central)
2006 95-67 .586
(2nd in AL Central)
New York Yankees W 3-1 Oakland Athletics W 4-0 St. Louis Cardinals L 4-1
2007 88-74 .543
(2nd in AL Central)
2008 74-88 .457
(5th in AL Central)
2009 86-77 .528
(2nd in AL Central)
2010 81-81 .500
(3rd in AL Central)
2011 95-67 .586
(1st in AL Central)
New York Yankees W 3-2 Texas Rangers L 4-2
2012 88-74 .543
(1st in AL Central)
Oakland Athletics W 3-2 New York Yankees W 4-0 San Francisco Giants L 4-0
  • Totals: 8828-8578 .507 (Through 2012 season)
  • Playoffs: 52-49 .515 (10-9, .526 in Postseason Series')
  • 11 American League Pennants
  • 4 World Series Championships

Quick facts[]

  • Founded: 1894, in the minor Western League. In 1900 that league was renamed the American League and it became a major league in 1901. A charter member of the Western League, Detroit is the only WL member that remains in its 1899 city.
  • Home ballpark: Comerica Park
  • Former ballparks: Tiger Stadium, Bennett Park
  • Mascot: Paws
  • Unofficial fight song: Tiger Rag
  • Uniform colors: Home: Navy Blue Old English "D" on white uniform. Navy is used as an accent color. Road: Detroit script in navy blue outlined in orange and white on a gray background. Navy, orange and white are used as accent colors. The Tigers are, along with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, one of only a handful of teams that do not wear a colored alternate jersey; this may be due to the fact that the Tigers home uniforms have been virtually unchanged since the 1905 season (with the exceptions of 1918-1920, 1927, 1930-1933 and 1960) and there is no need for them to sport a "new look" because of this consistency and iconic status of the classic navy on white. The 1960 change to a blue script "Tigers" was particularly poorly received by Tigers fans and the "Olde English D," as the club refers to it, has never been seriously considered for replacement since.
  • Logo design: An Old English font "D" with a roaring tiger walking through it, but that logo has been seen less in recent years. The Old English "D" without the Tiger appears on the home jersey while a slightly different version of the Old English "D" is present on the home cap (white "D" on navy blue) and road cap (orange "D" on navy blue).
  • Team motto: Who's Your Tiger?
  • Playoff appearances (14): 1907, 1908, 1909, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968, 1972, 1984, 1987, 2006, 2011, 2012.
  • Local Television: FSN Detroit, WMYD (Commentators: Mario Impemba and Rod Allen)
  • Local Radio: WXYT 1270 AM (Commentators: Dan Dickerson and Jim Price)
  • Famous Fans: Tom Selleck, Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Jerome Bettis, Steve Yzerman, Kid Rock
  • Spring Training Facility: Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, FL

Baseball Hall of Famers[]

Elected at least in part on basis of performance with Tigers


Other Hall-of-Famers associated with Tigers

Retired numbers[]

  • Ty Cobb, OF, 1905–26; manager, 1921-26 (his name is with the other honorees on the outfield wall at Comerica Park, but with no number because no player in that era wore a number)
  •   2 Charlie Gehringer, 2B, 1924–42
  •   5 Hank Greenberg, 1B, 1930–46
  •   6 Al Kaline, OF, 1953–74
  • 11 Sparky Anderson Manager 1979-95
  • 16 Hal Newhouser, P, 1939–53
  • 23 Willie Horton, OF, 1963–77
  • 42 Jackie Robinson, never played with the Tigers, retired by MLB from all teams in 1997

Although National Avenue, which ran behind the third-base stands at Tiger Stadium, was renamed Cochrane Avenue for Mickey Cochrane, Cochrane's number 3 has not been retired for him. It has not been retired for Dick McAuliffe or Alan Trammell, either. Cherry Street, which ran behind the left-field stands, was renamed Kaline Drive for Al Kaline.

Number 11, last worn by former manager Sparky Anderson in 1995, was retired on June 26, 2011.

Current roster[]

Minor league affiliations[]

2021 Reorganization (Professional Development League)[]

  • Triple-A: Toledo Mud Hens (Ohio) - Triple-A East, Midwest Division
  • Double-A: Erie SeaWolves (Pennsylvania) - Double-A Northeast, Southwest Division
  • High-A: West Michigan Whitecaps (Michigan) - High-A Central, East Division
  • Low-A: Lakeland Flying Tigers (Florida) - Low-A Southeast, West Division

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