Mike McClary's scrapbook from 100+ years of Detroit Tigers baseball

Ralph Houk’s bumpy road to Detroit

Posted on August 9, 2015

Ralph Houk joined the Tigers shortly after resigning as manager of the Yankees. But it wasn’t that simple thanks to new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the owner of the Oakland A’s, Charlie Finley.

The Yankees wanted to hire A’s manager Dick Williams, even though he was still under contract with Finley.

No bother.

The Yankees hired him anyway. Of course, Finley raised hell and demanded the Yankees compensate his club with a player or two. Then, the Yankees asked American League President Joe Cronin to require the Tigers to compensate them for hiring Houk.

In the end, Williams didn’t manage the Yankees, the Tigers didn’t owe them anything, and they ended up hiring Bill Virdon – who held the job for a season and a half until Billy Martin, whose firing in Detroit started this whole mess, was hired by Steinbrenner. Finley wound up hiring Alvin Dark to manage the A’s in 1974.

Ralph Houk: Bridge between Martin and Anderson (and technically Les Moss)

Posted on August 9, 2015

Ralph Houk was the first Tigers manager I ever knew. RalphHouk I paid more attention to the players then – Jason Thompson, Steve Kemp and Aurelio Rodriguez – but I now wish I would have had the attention span to listen to his post-game interviews on Channel 4 or on WJR. I was only nine when baseball appeared on my radar so I’ll have to remember Houk, who died on July 22, 2010, at the age of 90, through the pages of my Tigers Yearbooks and media guides.

Or so I thought.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can piece together Ralph Houk’s arrival in Detroit, where he presided over one of the bleakest periods of baseball in the city’s history, and displayed the least managerial charisma this side of Luis Pujols.

October 1973: Replacing Billy Martin

How bad were the New York Yankees in the early 1970s? Bad enough that their manager left the Bronx for the same job with the Tigers. That might be a stretch, but not by much. The 1973 Tigers finished 85-77, third in the six-team American League East, five games ahead of the 80-82 Yankees. So one could guess that Detroit was actually a step up. It was at least in the view of Ralph Houk, who won 970 games in New York over 10 seasons and was the successor to the legendary Casey Stengel. He would have nowhere near that success with the Tigers.

So, why would he leave New York? According to his obituary in The New York Times, not surprisingly, the reason was The Boss:

In January 1973, a syndicate headed by [George] Steinbrenner bought the team. Under CBS, Houk had a free hand on the field while Lee MacPhail handled the front-office duties. But Steinbrenner let Houk know how he felt things should be done and was overheard making derogatory comments about some of the players.

Houk resigned on the final day of the 1973 season, despite having two years remaining on a contract that paid him in the neighborhood of $75,000 per year. It would be roughly the same amount Tigers GM Jim Campbell would pay him each of the three years on his contract – which at the time made Houk the highest-paid manager in Tigers history.

So what was Houk’s vision when he came to Detroit? To erase “the thin line between losing and winning”, and to rebuild “but not make change for the sake of change.” That’s what he told the AP during his introductory press conference at his Oct. 11, 1973 introductory press conference – at which he was two hours late due to a series of flight delays. (Couldn’t get a direct flight from New York?) “I like the batting power. That’s what always worried me when we played Detroit,” Houk told the UPI.

And he knew of what he spoke: the Tigers trailed only the Indians in 1973 in home runs (157); in 72 they finished third behind Boston and Oakland with 122. Detroit led the league with 179 in 1971.

During his first press conference, Houk also told reporters that he wanted Al Kaline to be his designated hitter in 1974. And Kaline was the Tigers primary DH that season, hitting .262 with 28 doubles, 13 HR, 64 RBI and a .726 OPS in his final season. The mid-1970s didn’t provide Tigers fans much in the way of relevance in the American League East standings. But they weren’t expected to contend. Houk’s job was to develop the Tigers young players and clear the runway for a contender in the 1980s – if not sooner.

Though he was at the helm for one of the most dreadful seasons – 1975, when the club finished 57-102, the fifth-worst season in team history – and one of the most captivating stories of the decade, if not franchise history: Ron LeFlore’s journey from Jackson State Prison to Tiger Stadium.

Houk’s Tigers had nowhere to go but up in 1976 – and they did, winning 17 more games and improving to 74-86. The story in 1976, of course, was Mark Fidrych, who emerged from fringe prospect to national sensation and became the star-attraction on a team filled with journeymen. Fidrych, of course, went 19-9, started the All-Star Game and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

Turning the Corner Slowly

It was in 1977 that Houk and the Tigers began introducing fans to the young players that would become the core of the 1984 World Series champions. That season, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Jack Morris and Dan Petry arrived in Detroit to join Kemp and Thompson. The club finished 74-88 in fourth place an improvement over the fifth-place finish in 76 but not really. The expansion Blue Jays joined the American League East that season serving as the rising tide to lift every team in the standings.RalphHoukCardThe Tigers seemed to turn the corner in 1978, finishing with their best record under Houk, 86-76, but dropped to fifth place.

“It’s time for me to go fishing.”

On Sept. 21, 1978, Houk surprised the Tigers when he announced his retirement at the end of the season. The 59-year-old Kansas native wanted to spend his summers at the fishing hole, but on the way out he wanted to stick it to the media, whom he saw as never giving him a fair shake in Detroit.

“The pressure of you people, the press that’s been the toughest thing,” he told the AP when he announced his retirement. Then with a laugh he added, “You can’t slap writers any more. You can’t punch them. You can’t do anything. A lot has changed.”

“I’ve been treated so great here,” Houk was quoted by the UPI. “It’s been an interesting job but the only way I could have stayed here five years was my associations with Mr. Campbell and Mr. Fetzer.” “Truthfully, I did not intend to stay here this long,” Houk said. “It’s been gratifying to me to see some of the young players we have stuck with develop.” Check this out from the same UPI story:

Houk, 59, originally signed a three-year contract to manage the Tigers but it was replaced after 1976 with a unique self-renewing agreement that raised his pay above the average of his contemporaries and provided for additional attendance and club performance bonuses.

It also had a built-in year of severance pay should the contract be terminated by either side. Campbell had said repeatedly Houk could manage the Tigers for as long as he wanted.

Performance bonuses? Attendance clauses? And for all these years we thought the Tigers brass was living in the 1920s. Knowing Campbell’s cheapskate reputation, I’d guess those attendance bonuses were unattainable given the quality of the ball club.

All told, Houk’s Tigers teams won 363 games and lost 443 from 1974-78. Hardly outstanding but probably right in line with what Campbell expected when he hired him.

The Tigers named Les Moss, then the manager of their Triple-A Evansville club, to replace Houk for the 1979 season. As we know, that experiment lasted all of 53 games before the Tigers cut him loose in favor of Sparky Anderson.

Houk returned to the dugout in 1981 as manager of the Red Sox, a job he held until 1984. I remember thinking at the time that it had to be strange for Houk to be back at Tiger Stadium in ’84 watching many of his former players steamroll their way to the World Series. Or gratifying … or both.

By most accounts, Ralph Houk wasn’t a warm human being, particularly with the press, but he was probably the ideal man for the job. And that job was to bridge the gap between the 1968 champions and the next generation of Tigers, the guys who won the World Series in 1984. He’ll never have the legacy of his successor, Sparky Anderson, but Ralph Houk’s place in Tigers history is an important one – if often forgotten.

Today’s Tiger: Chris Brown

Posted on July 17, 2015

Chris Brown

  • Born: Aug. 15, 1961 in Jackson, Miss.
  • Died: Dec. 26, 2006 in Houston
  • Acquired: Traded by the Padres with Keith Moreland to the Tigers for Walt Terrell on Oct. 28, 1988.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 1 (1989)
  • Bats: Right Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ Weight: 185 lb.
  • Uniform Number: 35
  • Stats: .193 avg., 0 HR, 4 RBI, .449 OPS

Perhaps no other word best describes third baseman Chris Brown like enigmatic.

After a promising start to his career with the Giants in 1985, his .271 average and 16 homers earned him a fourth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and an All-Star Game appearance in ’86, Brown began frustrating his managers and his teammates with a string of questionable and bizarre injuries. In fact, he never appeared in more games than he did that rookie season (131).Chris Brown 1989 Tigers 3

By the middle of the 1987 season Brown was shipped to the Padres with Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant for Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell.

He didn’t fare well in San Diego either, hitting .232 in 44 games. In 1988 he hit just .235 in 80 games.The Tigers were in complete freefall when they traded Walt Terrell to the Padres for Brown and Keith Moreland, whose best years were behind him.

Why Detroit thought Brown and his “Tin Man” reputation would be transformed under Sparky Anderson is mystifying. His reputation for injuries — real or imagined — ranged from shoulder tenderness, a bad tooth and a sore eyelid. At least those are the more legendary ones and who knows if any were true.

In Detroit, the Chris Brown Experiment — such as it was — got off to a poor start when he arrived to spring training overweight. It ended after just 17 games, 11 hits and a .193 average. Worse yet, if possible, was a .909 fielding percentage in that time. On May 19, he was released.

A few weeks later he was signed by the Pirates but never appeared in a big-league game for them.

Brown died in a mysterious Houston house fire on Dec. 26, 2006, at the age of 45. According to this MLB.com story:

Brown was employed by Halliburton Co. in Iraq, driving and repairing 18-wheel fuel trucks, and in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, he said, “It’s a place I would’ve never thought 20 years ago that I’d be.”

His final career line: .269 average, 38 home runs, 184 RBI and a .725 OPS.

July 9, 1970: The Grand Slam Single

Posted on July 9, 2015

From today’s installment of the BR Bullpen on Baseball-Reference.com:

Dalton Jones of the Tigers loses a grand slam against the Red Sox when he passes teammate Don Wert on the basepaths. Jones pinch hits for Jim Price and belts a 2-2 pitch from Vicente Romo into the right field upper deck for an apparent grand slam. However, he passes Wert between first and second and is called out, ending up with a three-RBI single.

Here’s the boxscore from that game, a 3-2 Red Sox win.

Today’s Tiger: Gee Walker

Posted on June 24, 2015

Gee Walker

  • Born: March 19, 1908, in Gulfport, Miss.
  • Died: March 20, 1981, in Jackson, Miss.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 7 (1931-37)
  • Uniform Numbers: 6, 11
  • Awards: All-Star (1937)
  • Stats: .317 avg., 61 HR, 32 triples, 468 RBI, .820 OPS

Gee WalkerGerald Holmes “Gee” Walker debuted with the Tigers on April 14, 1931, and though he didn’t see a great deal of playing time as a rookie (59 games, 189 at bats) he made the most of his opportunities, hitting .296 with 27 doubles. The following year he was even better, hitting .323 with 32 doubles and 78 RBI. (Quick aside: Walker’s older brother, Hub, played alongside him with the Tigers in 1931 and ’35.)

Walker was a hitting machine for the Tigers as he matured, hitting under .300 only once after his rookie season. Near the end of his time in Detroit he began showing a power stroke and a knack for driving in runs.

His time in Detroit coincided with two World Series appearances, 1934 and ’35. Against the Cardinals in October ’34, he had one hit in three at bats. The following postseason, he went one for four in three Series games against the Cubs. Walker’s Tigers career ended on Dec. 2, 1937, when he was traded with Marv Owen and Mike Tresh to the White Sox for Vern Kennedy, Tony Piet and Dixie Walker. He played eight more seasons in the majors, two with the White Sox, four with the Reds, and a season with both the Senators and Indians. His major-league game was on Sept. 30, 1945. According to Walker’s Baseball-Reference page

Baseball Digest from August 1976 states that Walker had arthritis during his later years in baseball and after his playing days he worked in real estate in Florida and Mississippi.

He died on March 20, 1981, in Whitfield, Miss., a day after his 73rd birthday.

1931 23 DET AL 59 189 56 17 2 1 28 .296 .345 .423 .768
1932 24 DET AL 127 480 155 32 6 8 78 .323 .345 .465 .809
1933 25 DET AL 127 483 135 29 7 9 64 .280 .304 .424 .728
1934 26 DET AL 98 347 104 19 2 6 39 .300 .340 .418 .758
1935 27 DET AL 98 362 109 22 6 7 53 .301 .329 .453 .782
1936 28 DET AL 134 550 194 55 5 12 93 .353 .387 .536 .924
1937 29 DET AL 151 635 213 42 4 18 113 .335 .380 .499 .880

Today’s Tiger: Champ Summers

Posted on June 17, 2015

Champ Summers


  • Born: June 15, 1946 in Bremerton, Wash.
  • Died: Oct. 11, 2012
  • Acquired: Traded by the Reds to the Tigers for a player to be named later on May 25, 1979. The Tigers sent Sheldon Burnside to the Reds to complete the trade October 25, 1979.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 3 (1979-81)
  • Bats: Left Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 205 lb.
  • Uniform Number: 24
  • Stats: .293 avg., 40 HR, 132 RBI, .896 OPS

Champ Summers was a fan favorite in Detroit and for good reason. He came to the Tigers as a career underachiever — at least at the major-league level — in an under-the-radar trade roughly a week before they hired Sparky Anderson in 1979.ChampSummers

The year before, John Junior Summers was the Minor League Player of the Year for the Reds’ top farm club, Indianapolis of the American Association. He led the AA with a .368 average, 34 homers and 124 RBI. It was in the majors, though, where Summers struggled to out together a career — and it wasn’t from a lack of opportunities. After debuting with the A’s in 1974 — a team with a loaded outfield featuring Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Rick Monday and Bill North, among others — he spent two seasons with the Cubs (hitting only .217 with four home runs.) Next up was parts of three seasons with the Reds … and a .199 average.

In 1979, Summers was hitting .200 with a single home run after 27 early-season games with the Reds. But on May 25, the Reds sent him to the Tigers and, at the age of 30, he began the best three seasons of his career.

That season he batted .313 with 20 home runs (14 solo) in 90 games and posted a .614 slugging percentage along with a 1.028 OPS. Anderson played Summers primarily in rightfield with a few DH assignments sprinkled in.

The Tigers rewarded him with a three-year contract near the end of the ’79 season. He told the UPI:

“I really enjoy it here. I really feel at home,” Summers said. “Sparky likes me and I like him.”


Summers approached the club recently the possibility of signing a contract for next season.”I wanted to know so I could make plans for this winter,” he said. “After I signed, it was like a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I never felt wanted before.”

Tigers fans loved Summers and he continued to provide punch to a young lineup. In 1980, his numbers slipped ever-so slightly but they were solid: .297/17/60 with an OPS of .897. His production dropped further in the strike-shortened season of 1981 when, at age 35, his average fell to .255 and his power numbers plummeted, too. Summers hit only three home runs and eight doubles in 64 games in what would be his final season in Detroit.

In March 1982 the Tigers dealt him to the Giants for first baseman Enos Cabell. Summers would struggle in his two seasons in San Francisco, posting a .231 average and four home runs. In ’83 he hit .136 in 29 games.He was on the move again in December 1983 when the Giants traded him to division rival San Diego. Summers appeared in just 47 games for Dick Williams’ Padres and hit .185 with no home runs.

Summers’ career would end in the ballpark where he had his greatest success, albeit on the losing end of the 1984 World Series. His lone career World Series at bat came as a pinch hitter in game four at Tiger Stadium. Pinch hitting for Alan Wiggins with two out in the top of the eighth, Summers struck out swinging against Jack Morris.

The next day NBC showed him as he sat on the top step of the visitors dugout watching the Tigers celebrate their championship. I still wonder if they showed him because he was a former Tiger or because he looked so forlorn. Perhaps both.

At the age of 38, Champ Summers’ career had come to and end — just as he predicted in the 1979 UPI story announcing his Tigers contract:

“If think I can play five more years,” he said. “If Yaz can play ’til he’s 40, I can play ’til I’m 38. I take good care of myself.”

Summers passed away from kidney cancer on Oct. 11, 2012. That day the Tigers defeated the A’s 6-0 in Game 5 of the American League Division series.

June 12, 1983: Tigers Retire Numbers of Greenberg and Gehringer

Posted on June 12, 2015

(Photo: Mary Schroeder, Detroit Free Press)

(Photo: Mary Schroeder, Detroit Free Press)

On this date in 1983, the Tigers officially retired the uniforms of Hall of Famers Charlie Gehringer (#2) and Hank Greenberg (#5) at a ceremony at Tiger Stadium. (Richie Hebner was the last Tiger to wear #2; Howard Johnson the last to wear #5.)

Al Kaline’s #6, retired in 1980, was the first-ever numbers retired by the Tigers. The Tigers have since retired Willie Horton’s #23 and Sparky Anderson’s #11 — yet inexplicably won’t retire Alan Trammell’s #3 or Lou Whitaker’s #1.

Bush league.

1961 Tigers: 101 Wins, But No Pennant in Detroit

Posted on June 11, 2015

If any term could describe the Detroit Tigers of the 1950s, a charitable one would be

A 95-win season in 1950 gave Tigers fans hope that some of the magic from the 1945 World Series championship would continue into the new decade.

Alas, the glory days quickly faded and the Tigers finished the Fifties 64 games under .500, at 738-802. Tigers fans looked to a new decade as a clean slate, a chance to renew past excellence.

Unfortunately, the 1960 Tigers didn’t cooperate. Though the team was stocked with premium young talent including sluggers Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash, and an outstanding one-two punch in the starting rotation in Frank Lary and Jim Bunning, the Sixties got off to a bumpy start. The Tigers finished 1960 at 71-83, sixth in American League ahead of only a surprisingly weak Red Sox team, and the Kansas City A’s. That club churned through three managers: Jimmy Dykes, who was fired 96 games into the season, Billy Hitchcock (who managed all of one game) and Joe Gordon.

For 1961, the Tigers again changed leaders, hiring their fourth manager in a year, Bob Scheffing, most recently of the Cubs. In three seasons with Chicago, Scheffing led his clubs to one last-place finish and a pair of sixth-place finishes, finishing with a 208-254 record.

Heading into the season the Yankees were again the favorites in the American League — just as they had been for the better part of three decades. Even the most die-hard Tigers fan had no reason to believe that 1961 would be any different than the past dozen years. But it wouldn’t take long for them to realize it would be a special summer in Detroit.

Off to a Fast Start

The 1961 campaign ushered in two new eras in baseball: the extended 162-game season and, for the Tigers, a re-named ballpark, Tiger Stadium. On April 11, the Indians, now managed by former Detroit skipper Dykes, overpowered Jim Bunning for six early runs. Though the Tigers scratched their way back into the game they were unable to solve Indians righty Jim Perry and lost 9-5.

Three days later, presumably after a postponement, Frank Lary dominated the White Sox. He tossed nine one-hit innings on the way to a 7-0 win — the first of an eight-game winning streak that fueled an 8-2 start. Scheffing’s club finished April in first place, with a record of 10 and 4, and a one-game lead.

May proved to be just as successful. The Tigers spent then entire month in first place, ranging from a first-place tie to holding a lead as wide as 4.5 games. Perhaps most impressive was how they held their own against the Yankees, splitting the first six games, and proving they could play with the reigning American League champions. With summer approaching, the Tigers were out to show baseball — and perhaps still-skeptical fans — they were indeed for real.

Detroit continued to roll in June and into July, winning three of five from the Yankees over that span, including a split of a Fourth of July doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

In the opener, Whitey Ford struck out 11, scattering five hits for a complete-game 6-2 win. The Tigers won a thrilling nightcap, 4-3, in 10 innings behind a solid nine-inning performance by Lary, who also drove in Steve Boros with the winning run on a squeeze play in the 10th. In the bottom half, Lary allowed a leadoff single to Tony Kubek single which prompted Scheffing to call on Hank Aguirre to face two of the Yankees’ most feared hitters. The lefty Aguirre retired Roger Maris then walked Mickey Mantle before coaxing Yogi Berra into a flyout to center. Right hander Terry Fox replaced Aguirre and got Moose Skowron to end the game with a flyout. Detroit was in first place, a game ahead of New York on July 4 — and that’s usually a good sign.

The Tigers notched another winning month in July, going 16 and 12, but saw their lead evaporate and on July 24, they were in first place for the last time. This club, though, would not go down easily as evidenced by their torrid month of August, winning 22 and losing only nine. Unfortunately the Tigers failed to gain ground thanks to the Yankees’ identical 22 and 9 mark in August.

Two Outstanding Seasons in One

On April 12, 1960, the Tigers orchestrated a trade with the Indians that would pay dividends for years to come. They sent infielder Steve Demeter to Cleveland for a raw, slugging first baseman named Norm Cash, who had just 138 at bats in parts of two seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Indians the previous December. Cash never appeared in a game for Cleveland but would embark on a dazzling career in Detroit — while Demeter would play in only four games for the Indians and never play again in the majors.

Cash’s impact on the Tigers lineup was immediate. In 1960, at the age of 25, the native of Justiceburg, Texas, hit .286 with 18 home runs, 63 RBI and an OPS of .903. But those solid numbers would pale in comparison to the season he put together in ’61. Cash led the American League in five offensive categories: a .361 average, 193 hits, 19 intentional walks, .487 on-base percentage and a 1.148 OPS, and would be named a starter in the two All Star Games held that season — the first in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the second at Boston’s Fenway Park.

While Cash waged an assault on American League pitching, fellow All Star Frank Lary
was carving up hitters. In his first six full seasons with Detroit, the right hander averaged nearly 16 wins — highlighted by his 21 victories in 1956 — and 16 complete games per season. In fact, over those initial half-dozen seasons, Lary tossed complete games in 45 percent of his starts. In 1961 he was crafting the finest season of his career: a 23 and 9 record, a 3.24 ERA and a league-leading 22 complete games — 61 percent of his starts. For many Tigers fans, Lary became known as “The Yankee Killer” for his ability to shutdown the powerhouse New York teams of the 1950s and early ’60s with regularity. Over the course of his 12-year career, Lary earned a 28-13 record against the Yankees, defeating them 10 times more than his next-closest foil, the Twins. His record in ’61 against New York was 4-2.

Final Push Comes Up Short

The Tigers arrived in New York for a crucial three-game, Labor Day Weekend series just 2.5 games behind the Yankees. With luck, they could leave the Bronx in first place or at least a bit closer. Instead they saw their season collapse.

On Friday, Sept. 1, the Tigers lost a heartbreaking 1-0 game when the Yankees scored
the lone run with two out in the ninth. Detroit lefty Don Mossi was superb, scattering eight hits over 8.2 innings, walking a single batter and fanning seven.

In the second game, the Tigers scored a pair of runs in the first inning but could do little else with Ralph Terry. Meanwhile the Yankees chipped away, scoring three runs in the first six innings. However, the game — and essentially the pennant — shifted dramatically in the Yankees’ favor when they tagged Lary with four runs in the eighth, sealing a 7-2 win.

The finale was perhaps the cruelest game of the series. Detroit entered the bottom of the ninth with a 5-4 lead but saw it vanish when Mickey Mantle drove a pitch from Gerry Staley into the right-centerfield seats for his 50th home run of the season. With two men on and two out, catcher Elston Howard drilled a three-run homer deep into the left-field stands off Ron Kline, giving the Yankees a 8-5 win and a series sweep.

Those three losses in New York were followed by five more, plunging the Tigers to 10 games out of first, by far their biggest deficit of the season. Though their pennant hopes were dashed over Labor Day, and despite the eight-game skid, the Tigers finished the 1961 season strong: winning 12 of their final 15, highlighted by a six-game winning streak and another of four straight to end the season.

Strong Finish Caps Remarkable Season

On the final Saturday of the season, Sept. 30, the Tigers won their 100th game of the season, a 6-4 win over the Twins. A win of the season finale gave the Tigers a final record of 101-61, the most wins by a Detroit team since pennant-winning 1934 club.

In the end, the 1961 Tigers finished eight games behind the eventual World Series champions, the Yankees, and 12 ahead of Baltimore. Still, they took Detroit baseball fans on a joy ride they hadn’t experienced in more than a decade. What’s more, they got to see the emergence of players that would make a summer seven years down the road one to remember — even if 1961 is a season Tigers fans might tend to overlook.

Welcome to Tigers History Book

Posted on June 10, 2015

Some things are born out of necessity — both creative necessity and practical necessity. You’ve arrived at an example of both. More on that in a moment.

Tigers history book logo

Welcome to Tigers History Book, a site dedicated, as you’ve probably gathered, to the history of the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club, a charter member of the American League and my hometown baseball team.

Nine years ago I started The Daily Fungo, a Tigers blog that was, if nothing else, well timed: that year’s Tigers team, at long last, marched to a World Series when, let’s face it, an 82-80 team would have been remarkable,

During that season and the following six or seven-ish that followed, I discover that I was far more interested in writing about the Tigers teams, players and managers of my youth — and even farther back — than I was in commenting on the current team. What’s more, I always got more comments (or at least it seemed like I did) on the posts I’d write about a random Tigers utility infielder from the late 1970s than anything I’d write about Carlos Guillen. I hope the engagement with readers is the same at this site.

So, that covers the creative necessity. As for the practical, well, it’s embarrassing. I, um, managed to mess up the WordPress data export of the Fungo archive and, well, yeah.

The gist is that I’ve lost most of the workable content from The Daily Fungo. It’s not entirely gone, but it’s not entirely accessible either. I have a MySQL file containing all the Fungo goods but extracting it will be like picking grains of salt out of a big bowl of pasta — doable but not something I want to do right away.

*If you happen to know your way around MySQL, XML or WordPress, help!

I will comb through that cursed MySQL file and pull out the content of my history-related pieces and post them here. And, I’ll use the originally posting date for those. If nothing else, it’ll remind me when I’d written them.

And with that, let’s get started. I hope you enjoy what you read here.

225 Words about Cup-of-Coffee Tigers RHP Jim Proctor

Posted on June 4, 2015

Jim Proctor

There’s always an interesting story about Tigers players of the past, especially an ultra-obscure one like Jim Proctor, who was born on Sept. 13, 1935.

He debuted at age 23 for the Tigers on Sept. 14, 1959 against the Senators in Washington, pitching in relief of starter Ray Narleski. In the bottom of the sixth, he allowed one run on three hits — also, he allowed a sac bunt by future Tigers bench coach Billy Consolo and a walk to Harmon Killebrew.

In the seventh, he gave up a leadoff triple to Julio Becquer before retiring the next three men in order.

Proctor’s next appearance was on Sept. 26 at Briggs Stadium against the White Sox and Hall of Famer Early Wynn. It would Proctor’s first and last career start and the second and final big-league appearance as well. He wouldn’t escape the first inning, allowing four runs, all earned, on four hits and two walks. The final hitter the right hander faced was the eighth man to bat in the inning, Sox left fielder Johnny Callison.

One interesting side note from this game: Norm Cash replaced first baseman Ted Kluszewski in the bottom of the second, batting cleanup. He went 0 for 1 with a flyout and a walk.

As for Proctor, his major league career came to a close less than two weeks after it began. His career line:

0 1 16.88 2 2.2 8 5 5 0 3 0 4.125
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/9/2013