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Detroit Tigers, 1945
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A Detroit Tigers' 1945 score card cover appears to the right. This preprinted score card lists a Tigers schedule and 1945 player rosters for both the Tigers and the New York Yankees. The card is a memento from a special season - one where the Tigers brought a World Series to a war weary Detroit.
World War II drained manpower from Major League baseball, as players reported for military duty. Hank Greenberg was the Tiger's first "star player" to be drafted. He entered the service on May 7, 1941 - seven months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He received his honorable discharge over four years later. On July 1, 1945, 47,000 fans came to Briggs Stadium to welcome him home. Greenberg marked his return by hitting a home run against the Athletics in the eighth inning.
There could be no doubt that Greenberg was back. He played only seventy-eight regular season games that year. During those seventy-eight games, he hit thirteen homers and batted in sixty runs. The most memorable game was the last one of the regular season.
The Tigers found themselves in a neck-and-neck race with the Washington Senators. On Saturday, September 29th, Washington had ended its season with an 87-67 record. Detroit - at 87-65 - had two more games to play. The Tigers only needed one win to advance to the World Series. Their September 29th game in St. Louis was rained out. Sunday, September 30th thus dawned with a fateful double header on the horizon!
Once again, it rained. The rain let up enough to begin the first game - one hour later than scheduled. At the end of the sixth inning, Detroit led the St. Louis Browns 2-1. St. Louis scored two runs in the seventh and then led 3-2. That score remained as Detroit went to bat at the top of the ninth inning. Meanwhile, it began raining harder - threatening a premature end to the season.
As the ninth inning began, Harvey Walker batted a single. James Webb then hit an intended sacrifice bunt. Browns' first baseman George McQuinn threw late to second, however, and both Walker and Webb were safe. Next came a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk. The bases were thus loaded with one out as "Hammerin'" Hank Greenberg strode up to home plate. Greenberg swung at the first pitch - and hit it right into the bleachers for a grand slam home run! Greenberg's teammates said that they never saw him happier. The Browns failed to score any further, and the game ended with a 6-3 win by Detroit! The second game was called by rain after one inning, but to most fans, that didn't matter. The Detroit Tigers were going to the World Series!
In the 1945 World Series, the Tigers squared off against the Chicago Cubs. The Series lasted seven games, with Detroit ultimately emerging as World Champions. It was an exciting season for Tiger fans, but no moment ever topped Greenberg's grand slam homer of September 30th!
The following books were consulted. They are available at the Library at Michigan (Click Library of Michigan to visit the Library's web site).
Anderson, William M. The Detroit Tigers: A Pictorial Celebration of the Greatest Moments and Players in Tigers' History. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999.
Greenberg, Hank. The Story of My Life. (Edited and with an introduction by Ira Berkow.) New York: Times Books, 1989.
McCollister, John. The Tigers and Their Den: The Official Story of the Detroit Tigers. Lenexa, Kansas: Addax Publishing Group, 1999.
-Bob Garrett, Archivist E-mail:email@example.com
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Briggs Stadium during the 1945 World Series.
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