Those cats have some staying power!
The Tigers began in 1901 in Detroit, and, oddly enough, there they’ve remained. I only say this because, after covering the history of almost all the other MLB teams, I think this is one of the first that’s never changed their name or location. In fact, Wikipedia says the Tigers are “…the oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in the AL.” Curious. In their infancy, the Tigers brought a similarly young Ty Cobb to the team, whom you might recognize from his myriad hitting titles, or perhaps from his questionable sportsmanship (like sliding spikes up.) Regardless, Cobb shaped the first quarter century of Detroit’s club as both a player and player-manager. You read that right – Ty Cobb managed the team for 6 of the years he played for them, and finished with a career batting average of .366. Just for reference, that’s the highest career batting average to this day, nearly 10 years later. More on Cobb later in the week…
Though the Tigers won a few pennants early on, they didn’t take a World Series until 1935, with a dominant club that featured 4 future Hall-of-Famers. Detroit frequented the big game at five year intervals after that, losing in 1940 to the Cincinnati Reds, and, after regaining several players from service at the end of World War II, they took down the Chicago Cubs in 1945. This was also the fateful World Series in which the Cubbies were cursed by a goat, so, while Chicago fans don’t really hold a grudge against Detroit, it’s a huge part of baseball history. However, it may have been a curse for the Tigers as well, because after that, they struggled for over two decades to return to success.
The 1968 Detroit Tigers team, stacked with future legends like Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, finally took another World Series title, and a handful of AL pennants to follow, then settled into a bit of a drought before another win in 1984, with the help of another Gibson. Sadly, after Kirk Gibson left the team, the Tigers suffered one of the longest streaks of losing seasons in MLB history, and only recently started to get back into a competitive form in the past decade or so. With a couple of recent pennants under their belts, the team seems to have a few tricks up their sleeves, and, as an eternal fan of the underdog, I can’t wait to see what they have in store!