Anyone else surprised to be enjoying watching/listening to the Detroit Tigers season? They were supposed to be sooooo bad. Some predicted 100 losses. They may still lose a ton, but it’s been fun watching new kids develop and seeing everybody (well, maybe not Victor Martinez) take a more aggressive baserunning stance.
At press time, the Tigers are hovering around .500 (a pace that would give them only 81 losses). So yeah, they aren’t likely World Series contenders. But we can celebrate 1968. We gave the task of looking back at the 50th anniversary of their unlikely World Series-winning season to Richard Bak (page 64).
Amongst his vast collection of sports memorabilia, Bak swears he has a Kodak of his Epiphany CYO team celebrating their championship in June 1968. “I’m in my catcher’s gear so you can’t see my face,” he wrote me. “And yes, [Tigers catcher] Bill Freehan was my guy.”
Not to be outdone, I sent him actual proof that I, too had been a champion with my picture of the mighty Hornets from Fraser! I was a pitcher, but my favorite 1968 Tiger was Ray Oyler. “Ray who?” you might ask. And with good reason. The weak-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop’s career batting average got him yanked for the World Series (see “Numbers” below). I was angry when then Tigers manager Mayo Smith replaced Oyler with Mickey Stanley (a center fielder!) in the lineup. I hated Mayo … until his gamble paid off, that is.
Elsewhere in this issue, we take advantage of the season with a guide to putting together boozy, boaty, brunch (page 46) and give a few tips on how not to get burnt to a crisp while out there (page 58).
We also show off a gallery of pretty looking (and in some cases, pretty potent) craft beers (page 25). Go ahead and raise a can to the new and old Detroit Tigers.