Sunday, September 24, 2006

Where Were You on October 4, 1987?

The Summer of 1987 was one of those magical summers. April turned to May, and after 30 games, the Tigers were way out of first in the AL East, with an 11-19 record. Sparky always said not to judge his team until after forty games, but that team looked dead in the water with the season just thirty games old.

The Tigers went on a seven game winning streak through, and after forty games, they 19-21. Not terrible, but not a contender, especially in those pre-wild card days.

They continued to play well, though, and as the days of summer wore on, it The Tigers continued to fight their way to the top of the division. They traded John Smoltz, a pitcher who would go on to a fabulous career with the Braves, for Doyle Alexander. All Alexander did was go 9-0 as a Tiger. It was a trade that continues to be debated in Detroit to this day, but back then, 19 years ago, there was no question that the trade helped propel the Tigers to the brink of their division lead. With ten games to play, they went to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, to play four against the division-leading Blue Jays.

And they dropped three of four.

Now, with deven games left to play, they trailed the Blue Jays by 4.5 games. The Tigers had seven left to play, four against the Orioles, and then three against the Jays to finish the season. The Jays lost all three to Milwaukee, while the Tigers took two of three from the O's and so on October 2, 1987 the Tigers entered the series trailing the Jays by 1 game.

October 2, Friday night, also happened to be om Kippur. There would be some heavy praying on both sides of the US Canadian border.

The Tigers won on Friday night, and then won again on Saturday afternoon, ensuring at the very least that they would have a one game playoff should they lose on Sunday, October 4th.

Weeks earlier, looking at the Schedule, I had a feeling that the game would be important. B'nei Akiva, an organization that I would never involve myself with, was going to the game, and I called the B'nei Akiva rep in our sbul and got a ticket to the game.

Now, everything was on the line for the Tigers, and I would be going to the game.

Larry Herndon, the Tigers left fielder, hit a solo homerum in the second innning. It was one of only three ihts Jimmy Key would give up that day. But it was one that mattered. Frank Tanana was pitching for Detroit, and with two outs in the ninth, Tanana fielded a short ground ball, tossed it over to Darrell Evans at first base, and the Tigers had won the division, on a complete game, 1-0 win. It was one of the most dramatic comebacks in a division race in baseball history, and the most compelling game that I have ever seen.

Anyway, I told you all this because despite the Tigers' struggles for the last month, they are on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot for the first time since that day 19 years ago.

Right now, they have scored 9 runs in the second innning, and lead the Royal 9-2 in the third.

If they win, they will be in the post season.


Blogger The Zwicker said...

I was in Israel for the year. Information was as readily available as it is now and phone calls were bloody expensive, so I had to rely on going to the local makolet and perusing the USA Today to get the scores from two or three days prior. It was agonizing to have to wait each day those last few weeks of the season and into the playoffs.

September 25, 2006 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the painful memories.


September 25, 2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I was 2/3 into the first quarter of 10th grade....the only school quarter I ever received a failing grade on my report card for every singele class in both english and hebrew.

September 25, 2006 11:28 AM  

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