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Gibson and Lolich Should be Honored at Comerica Park

Publish Date: 19/02/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

It’s been a very long time since Tigers fans have had an opportunity to celebrate a championship. The 39 years since the last World Series title is the longest drought in franchise history. No one can know when the franchise will again be crowned champs of Major League Baseball, but some excitement could be furnished by honoring past glory.

Reminiscing Two Championship Eras

MLB Ball

 

In a 16-year span, from 1968 to 1984, two different generations of Tigers players won the World Series. Many fans are still drawing air in Michigan who enjoyed those great teams. Fans who would delight in reminders of those two seasons when they visit Comerica Park. Yet, the franchise has very little on-site in downtown Detroit to honor the champions of ‘68 and ‘84.

That’s why the Detroit Tigers ownership should immediately make plans to add two statues to Comerica Park. Luckily, two iconic moments could be honored from the 1968 and 1984 postseason.

Mickey Lolich's Heroic Performance

When the Tigers rallied from a 3 games to 1 deficit in the 1968 Fall Classic, it was pitcher Mickey Lolich who led the way, pitching complete game victories in Game 5 and Game 7. His three wins in the series tied a record and made certain that Mickey will always be remembered in Detroit.

For baseball fans in Michigan who came of age in the 1960s, Lolich’s win in Game 7 is an indelible moment. It should be remembered forever at Comerica Park.

The 27th and final out of Game 7 of the 1968 World Series was a foul popup caught by catcher Bill Freehan, Mickey’s longtime batterymate. Seconds after he squeezed that popup, Freehan lifted Lolich into his beefy arms, the two teammates embracing in an iconic Detroit sports moment.

A statue of Lolich and Freehan’s embrace after the final out of the 1968 World Series would be the perfect way to preserve the memory of an amazing championship season.

Tribute to Bill Freehan and Mickey Lolich

Bill Freehan passed away two years ago after a long illness. But Mickey Lolich is still here to tell us his fantastic stories of the 1968 postseason. He’s a beloved former Tiger. A statue dedication with Mickey on hand would be a great event in downtown Detroit.

The Tigers most recent championship was accomplished by arguably the best team in franchise history. The 1984 Tigers bolted from spring training and into the regular season by going 35-5. They never spent a day out of first place. They swept the Royals in the AL Playoffs, and rather easily dispatched the San Diego Padres in the World Series.

Kirk Gibson's Iconic Moment

The 1984 World Series most memorable moment came in clinching Game 5 at Tiger Stadium. In the eighth inning, with the Tigers clinging to a one-run lead, Kirk Gibson swaggered to the plate to face Goose Gossage. The flamethrowing relief pitcher basically owned Gibby: striking him out in Gibson’s first big league game.

In Game 5, even with first base open, and his manager Dick Williams wanting to walk Gibson, Gossage drew on his confidence and argued to face the Tigers slugger.

“Let’s go after him,” Gossage said in a conference on the mound.

“He don’t want to walk you,” manager Sparky Anderson explained to his young outfielder. Gibson dug in, and prepared for the challenge. A moment later, Gibby sent one of Gossage’s flaming fastballs soaring into the upper deck in right field. Three-run homer, thunderous shaking of Tiger Stadium. The game wasn’t over, but it was basically over.

Gibson's Legendary Home Run

As Gibby pranced around the bases he raised his arms in triumph. His celebration fueled the 50,000+ fans in the old ballpark. His raised hands and helmetless expression of joy are an iconic image in the history of the Tigers. And a perfect subject for a 1984 World Series statue.

The Call for Commemoration

The Tigers have statues at Comerica Park celebrating many Hall of Fame players: Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, and others. They even have a statue for Ernie Harwell, the man whose voice described the title years of 1968 and 1984.

The sooner the Tigers add statues for those two championship seasons, linked to two iconic moments in Detroit sport history, the better.

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