Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tiger Power

TRIVIA QUESTION: While the Tigers led the AL in homers with 209 in 1962, which NL team led the senior circuit in home runs that season with 204?   

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:   When Bill Virdon took over as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates he replaced long time Bucs' manager and his old friend, Danny Murtaugh.

In today's world as it was in the 1960's, it was pretty rare for a team's entire starting line-up to register at least 10 homers in a season - each player banging homers in double figures. The 1962 Detroit Tigers played in a band box stadium, so if any team could, it would be this one. And they did.

A lot of the names in the Tigers' starting nine would not go down as historic; Jake Wood, Dick Brown and Steve Boros as well as Chico Fernandez would have careers, but would never be mistaken for Hall of Famers. Some others would. Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash could all have reached the Hall with a little luck. As it was, Kaline is the only one who did make the roster in Cooperstown. 
When you look at the dingers this team hit, it is pretty amazing. It was a standout line-up led by Colavito's 39, Cash with 37, Kaline 29, Fernandez knocked 20 while Boros and Billy Bruton had 16 each. Brown and Dick McAuliffe both hit 12. 

The Tigers 209 home runs led the American League. The pitching staff gave up 169 which was bad enough for 8th in the 10 team league. Jim Bunning, Don Mossi and Phil Regan all gave up more than 20, with Mossi and Regan giving up a combined 47 in 350 innings. Bunning at least pitched 258 innings to give up his 28 homers.

Blame a lot of it on Tiger Stadium. At 325' to right and 340' to left with power alleys in the 370' range and 440' to center, it was known as a hitters ball park. It was a true landmark in Michigan and despite it's flaws was a place Detroit fans would flock to, having great memories.
Still the Tigers finished 4th in the AL with a winning 85-76 record and a .255 team batting average (excluding pitchers hitting).  Few would remember the Tiger's manager that year was Bob Scheffing. His greatest success was in leading the 1961 Tigers to a second place finish with 101 wins. He was fired 60 games into the 1963 season, ending his managing career. As a player he was a .263 lifetime hitter.
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