Now let’s fast-forward to the 1930s! the 1910s and 1920s were filled of mediocrity for the Detroit Tigers franchise. There were a few bright spots in the 1910s and 1920s though that I’d like to quickly hit on: George Mullin pitching the franchise’s first no-hitter, Cobb winning five consecutive batting titles, and the 100-win 1915 Tigers that narrowly lost the pennant to the Red Sox. But on to the 1930s and the Tigers’ first World Series championship!
C: Mickey Cochrane — Cochrane was a 2-time All-Star and a 2-time MVP, including 1934 when the Tigers gloriously returned to the World Series for the first time in 25 years. Cochrane only spent four years with the Tigers, but as a player-manager, he was a tremendous force on the field and the clubhouse and a big part of the Tigers AL pennant in 1934 and Championship in 1935. In 1934, he beat out Lou Gehrig for the MVP even though Gehrig won the Triple Crown award. In 1935, he led the Tigers to redemption over the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, where the Cubs had beat Detroit in 1907 and 1908 in the Series. In 1947, Cochrane was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Tigers cap.
1B: Hank Greenberg — Greenberg spent all but one year of his major league career with the Detroit Tigers. He compiled an impressive group of accolades and accomplishments. Along with being inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956, Greenberg was a 2-time MVP, 5-time All-Star, and his #5 was retired by the Tigers. In the 1930s, Greenberg led the league in home runs and RBIs on two occasions. His MVP award in 1935 represented a terrific season that resulted with the Tigers’ first World Series championship.
2B: Charlie Gehringer — Gehringer spent his entire MLB career with the Tigers — 19 seasons. Before getting inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949 and his #2 retired by the Tigers, Gehringer was a 6-time All-Star in the 1930s. In 1937, Gehringer won the batting title on his way to the American League MVP. A few years prior, in 1934, Gehringer nearly won the AL MVP in 1934 when the Tigers returned to the ‘Series, but he lost by two votes to his teammate-manager Mickey Cochrane. A year later, he nearly won the MVP again but he once again lost to a teammate–this time to Hank Greenberg.
3B: Marv Owen — Owen spent the first seven seasons in Detroit, five of which he spent mostly with the big league club. Along with the rest of the players in the infield, the historic Tigers infield were a hard-working group where all four player at least 153 games of the 154. Owen recorded a Tigers record of 2o2 putouts which still stands today. In 1937, Owen led the AL in fielding percentage and double plays in 1936. He eventually spent the final three seasons of his career with the White Sox and Red Sox before retiring.
SS: Billy Rogell — Rogell spent the entire 1930s decade with Detroit before playing one last season with the Cubs in 1940. Rogell initially struggled, prompting the Tigers to trade for at-the-time elite SS and two-time World Champion Mark Koenig. Eventually, the Tigers realized Rogell was an integral part of its future and was the starting shortstop come 1932. Rogell had the benefit of hitting in front of four future Hall of Famers and had a career season in 1934 when he had a 100-RBI season in 1934 and batted .294.
LF: Goose Goslin — Although he spent most of his career with the Washington Senators, Goslin took a trip to Motown for four years and helped the Tigers to back-to-back World Series appearances in 1934 and 1935. The All-Star drove in the series-winning RBI in Game 6 of the World Series against the Cubs. After posting sub-par numbers in 1937, the Tigers elected to release the future inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1968). Goslin returned to the city where he was drafted, the Senators, for one final farewell season before he retired.
CF: Joyner “Jo-Jo” White — Jo-Jo, as he was referred to, spent seven years in the Motor City of his nine-year career. In 1934, he stole the second-most bases in the American League, twenty-eight. In 1935, White got on base at a .417 on-base clip during the World Series championship. White spent the final two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cincinnati Reds.
RF: Pete Fox — Fox, who spent eight years in Detroit, was a dynamic outfielder during the Tigers’ stretch of success. He led the league in outfield double plays (4) in 1934. He played his part against the Cardinals that year in the World Series, hitting a record six doubles in the series. In 1935, Fox was struggling out of the gate and the Tigers attempted to trade him. However, the trade fell apart and Fox remained with the Tigers. The news of the failed trade sparked Fox to get on 29-game and 17-game hitting streaks immediately. He ended up being among the league leaders in nearly every offensive category for the 1935 season and sparked the Tigers to a championship. He continued his success in 1937, when he had his best season.
SP 1: Tommy Bridges — Bridges led the Tigers staff for all sixteens seasons of his career. He led the Tigers staff to the pennant in ’34 when he went 22-11 with 25 complete games. The one bad spot was when he surrendered Babe Ruth’s 700th home run. He continued his success into 1935 when he 21-10. Bridges was a 6-time All-Star, 2-time strikeout leader, and one-time wins leader among the American League pitchers.
SP 2: Lynwood “Schoolboy” Rowe — Rowe, a 3-time All-Star, pitched to a 24-8 record in his second season with the Tigers in 1934. He finished fourth in the MVP voting behind teammates MVP Mickey Cochrane and Charlie Gehringer. He continued his success into 1935 when he 19-13, but went 1-2 in the World Series victory over Chicago.
SP 3: Elden Auker — Auker spent seven years with Detroit, including 1935 when he led the AL in win percentage with an 18-7 record. He eventually was traded Red Sox and later the St. Louis Browns.
The G-Men, as the Tigers were known during the 1934 World Series run that lasted seven games, featured one of the best teams in franchise history in the 1930s. The team’s biggest stars in ’34 and ’35 — Goslin, Greenberg, and Gehringer (hence G-Men) — led the Tigers to their first World Series championship in 1935. With a lineup that included four future Hall of Famers, the Tigers finally achieved their first of many championships. The Tigers lineup was one of the most powerful and feared lineups that existed in history, and for good reason. Amongst their three Hall of Famers, the Tigers featured five MVP awards for their power. Several of these players returned for the Tigers’ 1940 AL pennant, which I’ll be covering next time…