The Detroit Tigers are one of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball history. It’s perfectly possible to write a list of 100 or more greatest moments in Tigers history – and those are just from that amazing 1968 World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Historic Detroit Tigers Baseball Moment and Players
For this list, we’ve kept it short but memorable. They provide an overview of some of the biggest moments in Tigers history.
April 25, 1901
On this day, the Detroit Tigers took the field before 8,000 fans at Bennett Park in Detroit for the first time as a major league team in the newly formed American League (they had been playing since 1894 in the minor Western League). The Tigers are charter members of the American League, a list that also includes the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Somersets, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Stockings.
They won that first game, beating the Brewers 14-13. The winning pitcher was Emil Frisk, who went 5-4 in 1901, the only year he pitched for the Tigers. The Tigers entered the 9th inning trailing 13-4, but scored 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth for the comeback victory. First baseman Pop Dillon led the way with five RBI.
Aug. 30, 1905
An 18-year-old named Ty Cobb took the field for the Tigers on this late summer day. He only hit .238 in 1905, but he never got sent back to the minors. Instead, this young man patrolled centerfield for the Tigers for the better part of the next two decades, leaving the team in February 1927 at the age of 40. He retired a Hall of Famer and a legend, with a .366 batting average (the best in baseball history), 897 steals and 2,245 runs scored.
April 20, 1912
Navin Field opened on this day in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit – the same day Fenway Park opened in Boston. It served as the Tigers home until 1999. It became Briggs Field in 1938, and then Tiger Stadium in 1961. Since the 2000 season, the Tigers play at Comerica Park.
July 4, 1912
On Independence Day, 5,760 Detroit fans came to watch a game at Navin Field and got a treat: the first no-hitter even thrown by a Tigers pitcher. George Mullins, who pitched 12 years with the Tigers, no-hit the St. Louis Browns just three months after the stadium opened.
Oct. 7, 1935
The Tigers lost in the World Series four times before 1935. They lost twice to the Chicago Cubs, in 1907 and 1908. They lost again in 1909 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and in 1934 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Finally, they broke through in 1935, beating the Cubs in six games. The turning point came with a complete game, five-hit performance thrown by General Crowder in Game 4, putting the Tigers ahead three games to one.
Oct. 10, 1945
It took another decade, but the Tigers evened up their all-time record against the Cubs in the World Series with a thrilling, seven-game victory. The star of the series was Hal Newhouser, who pitched complete game victories in Game 5 and Game 7.
Two in ‘52
In 1952, Virgil Trucks threw two no-hitters in the same season. The first came on May 15 at Briggs Stadium vs. the Washington Senators. The second came on Aug. 25 against the New York Yankees in Yankees Stadium. The score of both games was 1-0.
Oct. 10, 1968
Twenty-three years to the day since their last World Series victory, the Tigers beat the Cardinals by overcoming the great Bob Gibson in Game 7. Pitcher Mickey Lolich out-dueled Gibson in the decisive game. He also won three games in the series, giving up only five earned runs. He was named series MVP and created a legend in Detroit that will never be forgotten.
April 7, 1984
Jack Morris throws a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Kirk Gibson saved the no-hitter on the very first out – without anyone knowing, of course, what would later be at stake. He chased down a blast into right field by the White Sox’s Rudy Law, making the catch at the wall.
Oct. 14, 1984
The fourth and most recent Tigers championship came in the 1984 World Series against the San Diego Padres. In the decisive Game 5, Gibson hit a three-run home run off Goose Gossage to seal the win (after Gossage talked his manager into leaving him in the game to face Gibson). Morris also won two games in the series and shortstop Alan Trammell was named series MVP.
Oct. 14, 2006
Outfielder Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning at Comerica Park in Detroit to send the Tigers to the World Series, winning the American League pennant in a series against the Oakland Athletics. Ordonez hit the home run, his second of the day, off A’s closer Huston Street.