The Detroit Tigers' Ty Cobb at West Side Grounds in Chicago during a World Series game in 1908. - SDN-007034, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum
The Detroit Tigers have played in 10 World Series; after losing the first four, they've won four of their last six. Here's a few stories from Detroit's World Series history.
Before I begin this look at the Detroit Tigers' previous 10 visits to the Fall Classic, allow me a little bit of bragging. I'm the only one of Baseball Nation's six prognosticators who correctly picked the Tigers and Giants to make it to the World Series, and back in April over at Bleed Cubbie Blue, I made the same choices (please feel free to ignore the fact that I got all eight of the other postseason teams wrong).
All right, boasting's over. The Tigers/Giants matchup gives us something that's unusual in modern World Series: a Series between two clubs who have combined for 28 previous Series appearances without ever before facing each other. Here are a few brief anecdotes on each of Detroit's World Series appearances; they've gone 4-6 over those 10.
1907: Cubs over Tigers, 4-0-1. This was the first World Series in which the losing team didn't win a game, but it's not considered a sweep because one game wound up as a tie (one of three ties in World Series history; the others were in 1917 and 1922). Daylight Saving time did not exist in 1907; thus, Game 1, which began at the 3 p.m. time customary for the era, had to be called for darkness at about 5:40 p.m. (20 minutes after sunset) with the score tied 3-3. The Cubs then won four straight to win the Series; Detroit scored just three runs in the four games.
1908: Cubs over Tigers, 4-1. The Tigers finally won a game, their first in World Series competition, by defeating the Cubs in Game 3. Cubs pitchers threw shutouts in Games 4 and 5 to complete their second straight World Series title; the Game 5 three-hit shutout by Orval Overall was witnessed on a cold, raw day in Detroit by just 6,210 fans, the smallest crowd ever at a World Series game.
1909: Pirates over Tigers, 4-3. This was the inaugural year for Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and the Pirates won 110 games to win the N.L. pennant (that victory total is still the second-highest in National League history). For the third straight year, a visiting team won the Series in Detroit by shutout, as Pittsburgh's Babe Adams blanked the Tigers on six hits. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb hit just .267 in his three World Series appearances.
St. Louis came out swinging with seven runs by the third inning and a 9-0 lead in the sixth. Detroit's fans were visibly upset (with the score) and a play involving a hard slide by Joe Medwick that momentarily injured third baseman Marv Owen. They erupted after he apparently made eye contact with the left-field bleachers and retaliated by throwing empty bottles, fruit and other debris. In an effort to avoid a possible riot, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis stepped in and removed Medwick from the game (who was replaced by Chick Fullis).
The Cardinals finished their Game 7 win 11-0, and Detroit was still without a World Series championship.
1935: Tigers over Cubs, 4-2. Detroit's first World Series title came as revenge for the long-ago losses to the Cubs; the Tigers won in a walkoff when Goose Goslin singled in Mickey Cochrane from second base in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6.
1940: Reds over Tigers, 4-3. The Tigers barely won the American League pennant, by one game over the Indians and two games over the Yankees. Despite that, the Tigers took a three-games-to-two lead into Cincinnati for Games 6 and 7, but scored just one run in those games as the Reds won the Series. Bobo Newsom was asked to throw Game 7 on one day's rest; he might have won it, but the Tigers' offense failed him.
1945: Tigers over Cubs, 4-3. Before this series began, Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown was asked who would win. He quipped, "I don't think either team can win it," and the two clubs went on to attempt to prove him right. Due to travel restrictions still in effect at the end of World War II, this series was played in an unusual configuration -- the first three games in Detroit, the last four in Chicago. The Cubs needed 12 innings to tie up the series in Game 6, and then Cubs manager Charlie Grimm started Hank Borowy, his top starter during the regular season, on one day's rest in Game 7, as did Detroit in 1940. The Tigers jumped all over Borowy for five runs in the first inning, on their way to a Series-clinching 9-3 win.
1968: Tigers over Cardinals, 4-3. Detroit once again had to wait more than two decades for a Series appearance, and they made it memorable by becoming (at the time) just the third team to come back from a three-games-to-one deficit. Tigers lefthander Mickey Lolich threw complete-game wins in Games 5 and 7 -- the latter on two days' rest -- to win the Series. The game-winning hit was delivered by Jim Northrup, who hit a two-run triple in the sixth inning.
1984: Tigers over Padres, 4-1. Many fans (well, at least Cubs fans) hoped for the fifth Tigers/Cubs old-school matchup; instead the upstart Padres won the NLCS. They wound up crushed by the Tigers, who had blazed through the AL schedule with 104 wins and destroyed the Royals in the ALCS. Alan Trammell went 9-for-20 with two homers to be named series MVP, but it was Kirk Gibson's two homers in the clinching Game 5 that most people remember as the image of this Series.
2006: Cardinals over Tigers, 4-1. Detroit's defense deserted them in this Series; the Tigers made eight errors in the five games, leading to eight unearned Cardinals runs. It didn't help that the Tigers stopped hitting; Detroit hit just .199. This series was also notable for the controversy over the strange smudge on Detroit lefthander Kenny Rogers' pitching hand.