1934 Detroit Tigers season

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1934 Detroit Tigers
American League Champions
Major League affiliations
Location
Other information
Owner(s) Frank Navin
Manager(s) Mickey Cochrane
Local television none
Local radio WWJ (AM)
(Ty Tyson)
WXYZ
(Harry Heilmann)
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The 1934 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. The season was the team's 34th since entering the American League in 1901. The Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 101–53, the best winning percentage in team history. The team made its fourth World Series appearance, but lost the 1934 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 3.

Offseason[edit]

  • February 15: The Tigers granted rights to broadcast their games on radio.

Regular season[edit]

Season summary[edit]

The Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 101–53, finishing seven games ahead of the New York Yankees, and compiling the best winning percentage in Detroit Tigers history (either before or after). They outscored their opponents 958 to 708 and also finished 1st in attendance with 919,161.

The 1934 Tigers' winning percentage ranks as the best in team history, as follows:

Best Seasons in Detroit Tigers History
Rank Year Wins Losses Win %   Finish
1 1934 101 53 .656 Lost 1934 World Series to Cardinals
2 1915 100 54 .649 2nd in AL behind Red Sox
3 1909 98 54 .645 Lost 1909 World Series to Pirates
4 1984 104 58 .642 Won 1984 World Series over Padres
5 1968 103 59 .636 Won 1968 World Series over Cardinals

The Players[edit]

Catcher/Manager: Mickey Cochrane[edit]

Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane was hired as the team's manager and catcher in the off-season before the 1934 season started. Cochrane was acquired by the Tigers on December 12, 1933, from the Philadelphia Athletics for Johnny Pasek and $100,000.[1] Known as "Black Mike," Cochrane is considered one of the greatest catchers of all time. In 1934, he won the American League's Most Valuable Player award, batting .320 with a .428 on-base percentage, 76 RBIs, and 32 doubles. He was the first catcher to win the American League MVP award[2] Aside from his contributions as a player, Cochrane was invaluable as a manager and leader. Second baseman Charlie Gehringer later said: "When Mickey was managing the Tigers from behind the plate I can't remember him ever fouling up anything. Seemed like he made snap judgments that always worked out well, especially in '34 and '35."[3]

Infield: Greenberg, Gehringer, Rogell, and Owen[edit]

The Detroit infield in the mid-1930s was one of the best-hitting combinations in major league history. With Hank Greenberg at first, Gehringer at second, Billy Rogell at shortstop, and Marv Owen at third, the 1934 Tigers infield collected 769 hits (214 by Gehringer, 201 by Greenberg, 179 by Owen and 175 by Rogell), 462 RBIs (139 by Greenberg, 127 by Gehringer, 100 by Rogell, and 96 by Owen), and 179 doubles (63 by Greenberg, 50 by Gehringer, 34 by Owen and 32 by Rogell). Three members of the 1934 Tigers infield (Gehringer, Owen and Rogell) played in all 154 games, and the fourth (Greenberg) played in 153.

"Hammerin' Hank" Greenberg played his second major league season in 1934, hitting .339 with 118 runs and 201 hits. He led the league with 63 doubles, and he was third in the AL with a .600 slugging percentage and 139 RBIs. Late in the 1934 season, he announced that he would not play on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Fans grumbled, "Rosh Hashanah comes every year but the Tigers haven't won the pennant since 1909." Greenberg did considerable soul-searching, and discussed the matter with his rabbi; finally he relented and agreed to play on Rosh Hashanah, but stuck with his decision not to play on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Of the latter decision, Detroit Free Press columnist and poet Edgar A. Guest expressed the general opinion in a poem titled "Speaking of Greenberg," in which he used the Irish (and thus Catholic) names Murphy and Mulroney. The poem ends with the lines "We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat / But he's true to his religion—and I honor him for that." The complete text of the poem is at the end of Greenberg's biography page at the website of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Charlie Gehringer had his best year to date in 1934, playing all 154 games. His .356 batting average and .450 on-base percentage were both 2nd best in the league. He led the league in runs scored with 134 and hits with 214. He was also among the league leaders in doubles with 50 (2nd in AL to his teammate Hank Greenberg) and RBIs with a career-high 127 (5th in AL). Gehringer finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting, just 2 points behind Detroit’s player-manager, Mickey Cochrane. Known for his consistency as a hitter and fielder, Gehringer was given the nickname "The Mechanical Man" by Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez. [3] Mickey Cochrane joked that "Charlie says `hello' on Opening Day, `goodbye' on closing day, and in between hits .350."[4]

Shortstop Billy Rogell had the best offensive season of his career in 1934, hitting .296, driving in 100 runs and scoring 114. He spent much of the season batting fifth, frequently hitting after Cochrane, Gehringer, and Goslin and ahead of Greenberg, all four of whom were future Hall of Famers. Rogell, unbeknownst to the Cardinals or the media, played the 1934 World Series on a broken ankle. Despite the injury he was able to collect eight hits and drive in four runs over the seven game series. He also found his way into one of the most popular plays in World Series history. After driving in a run with a single to right in the fourth inning of Game 4, Spud Davis was replaced by Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean as a pinch runner at first base. Pepper Martin then stepped in and hit a ground ball to Gehringer at second. Gehringer turned and threw to Rogell who forced out Dean at second, and then fired the ball squarely into Dean’s forehead on the relay throw to first. The ball ricocheted off Dean’s head and landed over a hundred feet away in the outfield. Dean, always known for his quick wit and humorous nature, remarked after a visit to the hospital, “The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing.” Rogell would say of the play later, “If I’d have known his head was there, I would have thrown the ball harder.”

Marv Owen batted .317 with 96 RBIs in 1934 and finished 9th in the AL MVP voting. Owen is remembered for a famous incident in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series. Joe Medwick tripled in the 6th inning with the Cardinals ahead by 7 runs. He slid hard into Owen at third, knocking him down. The two fought, and Detroit fans pelted Medwick with fruit and garbage when he returned to left field. As the fan reaction escalated, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ordered Medwick removed from the game. Owen batted just .069 (2–29) in the 1934 World Series.

Outfield: Goslin, Fox, White and Walker[edit]

In the outfield, Hall of Famer Goose Goslin played in left field, Pete Fox was the primary right fielder, and the speedy Jo-Jo White and Gee Walker shared most of the responsibility for center field, with White playing in 92 games there (and 100 total games in the outfield).

Pete Fox hit .285, hit 31 doubles, stole 25 bases, and scored 101 runs.

Goose Goslin had a good year with a .305 batting average, 100 RBIs, 106 runs scored, 187 hits, and 38 doubles. After leading the Washington Senators to American League pennants in 1924, 1925, and 1933, owner Clark Griffith traded Goslin to Detroit before the 1934 season. Griffith told Goose he simply couldn't afford to pay his salary. With stars Goslin, Gehringer and Greenberg, the 1934 Tigers became known as the “G-Men.”

Center fielder Jo-Jo White hit .313, scored 97 runs, had a .419 on-base percentage, and led the team with 28 stolen bases. White's real first name was Joyner, but he was called "Jo-Jo" because of the way he pronounced his native state of Georgia. Hank Greenberg, who was raised in the Bronx was rommates with White, and according to Greenberg the two of them "used to fight the Civil War every night." Greenberg recalled a game in which White stole home with Greenberg at bat: "He deprived me of a good chance at an RBI, and he did it deliberately because he knew it would burn me up."[5]

Gee Walker, the Tigers fourth outfielder, played in 98 games (80 in the outfield). Known as "The Madman from Mississippi," Walker was a fiery competitor who became a fan favorite in Detroit. He hit .300 for the 1934 Tigers with 20 stolen bases. Though he was regularly among the league leaders in stolen bases, he also developed a reputation for being inattentive and overzealous on the basepaths. He once tried to steal a base while the batter was being given an intentional walk. During the 1934 World Series, he was picked off first while arguing with the Cardinals' bench. On June 30, 1934, Walker was picked off base twice in the same inning. After Hank Greenberg singled, Walker reached base on an error, but was caught off base when the catcher threw to first base. Greenberg tried to draw a throw by running to third base and was thrown out, with Walker taking second base. Moments later, with Walker standing six feet off the bag, the pitcher threw to second base and Walker was tagged out. Detroit manager Mickey Cochrane was so angered by Walker's inattention that he suspended Walker for 10 days and fined him $20.

Pitching: Bridges, Rowe, Auker, Marberry and Hogsett[edit]

The pitching staff was led by starters Tommy Bridges, Schoolboy Rowe, Elden Auker, and Alvin Crowder, who joined the team in August.

Tommy Bridges had a record of 22–11. In 35 starts, Bridges threw 23 complete games. He had 151 strikeouts, and a 3.67 ERA. In a nationwide poll, Bridges was named the No. 2 sports hero of 1935, behind Notre Dame football player Andy Pilney. [6]

Schoolboy Rowe had the best record on the club at 24–8. At one point in the season, he won 16 consecutive decisions. Schoolboy became a fan favorite not only for his pitching performance in 1934 but for his nationally publicized romance. While appearing on the Eddie Cantor radio show, Rowe famously asked his fiancee, "How'm I doing, Edna honey?" The line endeared Schoolboy to the nation, and also resulted in relentless teasing from opposing players and fans. Schoolboy and Edna married after the 1934 season and had their first child during the 1935 season.

Elden Auker, a 23-year-old underhand pitcher out of Kansas A&M, also had a big year for the 1934 Tigers. Auker was 15–7 with a 3.42 ERA. During the 1935 World Series, Auker was interviewed by a young Cubs broadcaster, Ronald Reagan. When they met after Reagan had been elected Governor of California, Reagan told him, "You probably won't remember me, but I'll remember you as long as I live." The 1935 radio interview, Reagan said, "was my first big break."[7]

The Tigers' #4 starter was Vic Sorrell. Sorrell was 6–9 with a 4.79 ERA.

The Tigers did not employ a closer in the modern sense, as their 14 team saves were recorded by 9 different pitchers. Firpo Marberry and Chief Hogsett led the way with 3 saves each. Marberry was one of the first relief specialists in the major leagues, though he also started many games. In 1934, Marberry appeared in 38 games, starting 19 and finishing 14, and had a record of 15–5. Hogsett became a fan favorite as well, having a 3–2 record in 26 games. When Hogsett would take the mound at Navin Field, Detroit fans greeted him with "war whoops." Hogsett later reported that, while he was "one-thirty-second Cherokee on my mother's side," he got the nickname in the minor leagues when he "roomed with a full-blooded Kiowa Indian and the nickname just kind of stuck."[8]

Season standings[edit]

American League W L Pct. GB
Detroit Tigers 101 53 .656 --
New York Yankees 94 60 .610 7
Cleveland Indians 85 69 .552 16
Boston Red Sox 76 76 .500 24
Philadelphia Athletics 68 82 .453 31
St. Louis Browns 67 85 .441 33
Washington Senators 66 86 .434 34
Chicago White Sox 53 99 .349 47

Roster[edit]

1934 Detroit Tigers
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Other batters

Manager

Coaches

Season highlights[edit]

  • April 17: The Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 8–4, at Comiskey Park.
  • April 28: Goose Goslin hit into four consecutive double plays‚ but the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians, 4–1. Marv Owen had unassisted double plays in consecutive games on the 28th and 29th.
  • May 7: The Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox, 8–6. Schoolboy Rowe was the winning pitcher and won the game with a home run.
  • May 27: Detroit beat Boston, 9–2. Schoolboy Rowe pitched a complete game.
  • June 6: The Tigers beat the Indians, 2–1, despite a one-hitter by Cleveland pitcher Bob Weiland. Charlie Gehringer's RBI single was the only hit. Goose Goslin's hit streak ended at 30 games. The victory by Schoolboy Rowe put the Tigers in 1st place.
  • June 15: Schoolboy Rowe got the win over the Red Sox‚ 11–4‚ scattering 9 hits. This was the start of Rowe's 16-game win streak.
  • June 20: The Tigers beat the Senators, 13–10. They scored three runs in the 11th inning. Marv Owen‚ Mickey Cochrane‚ Charlie Gehringer‚ and Hank Greenberg each had three hits.

Player stats[edit]

Batting[edit]

Starters by position[edit]

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
C Cochrane, MickeyMickey Cochrane 129 437 140 .320 2 76
1B Greenberg, HankHank Greenberg 153 593 201 .339 26 139
2B Gehringer, CharlieCharlie Gehringer 154 601 214 .356 11 127
3B Owen, MarvMarv Owen 154 565 179 .317 8 96
SS Rogell, BillyBilly Rogell 154 592 175 .296 3 100
OF Goslin, GooseGoose Goslin 151 614 187 .305 13 100
OF Fox, PetePete Fox 128 516 147 .285 2 45
OF White, Jo-JoJo-Jo White 115 384 120 .313 0 44

Other batters[edit]

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Walker, GeeGee Walker 98 347 104 .300 6 39
Hayworth, RayRay Hayworth 54 167 49 .293 0 27
Doljack, FrankFrank Doljack 56 120 28 .233 1 19
Clifton, FleaFlea Clifton 16 16 1 .063 0 1
Schuble, HeinieHeinie Schuble 11 15 4 .267 0 2
York, RudyRudy York 3 6 1 .167 0 0
Perkins, CyCy Perkins 1 1 0 .000 0 0
Reiber, FrankFrank Reiber 3 1 0 .000 0 0
Wilson, IcehouseIcehouse Wilson 1 1 0 .000 0 0

Note: pitchers' batting statistics not included

Pitching[edit]

Starting pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Bridges, TommyTommy Bridges 36 275 22 11 3.67 151
Rowe, SchoolboySchoolboy Rowe 45 266 24 8 3.45 149
Sorrell, VicVic Sorrell 28 129.7 6 9 4.79 46
Crowder, AlvinAlvin Crowder 9 66.7 5 1 4.19 30
Fischer, CarlCarl Fischer 20 95 6 4 4.36 39

Other pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Auker, EldenElden Auker 43 205 15 7 3.42 86
Marberry, FirpoFirpo Marberry 38 155.7 15 5 4.57 64
Hamlin, LukeLuke Hamlin 20 75.3 2 3 5.38 30
Frazier, VicVic Frazier 8 22.2 1 3 5.96 11
Larkin, SteveSteve Larkin 2 6 0 0 1.50 8

Relief pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; W= Wins; L= Losses; SV = Saves; GF = Games Finished; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV GF ERA SO
Hogsett, ChiefChief Hogsett 26 3 2 3 16 4.29 23
Phillips, RedRed Phillips 7 2 0 1 4 6.17 3

1934 World Series[edit]

Main article: 1934 World Series

The 1934 World Series was a match-up between the St. Louis Cardinals’ "Gashouse Gang" and Detroit’s “G-Men” (so named because of stars Gehringer, Greenberg, and Goslin). Even nearly 50 years later, Charlie Gehringer (interviewed in 1982) felt the Tigers were robbed of the 1934 championship by umpire Brick Owens. Detroit was ahead 3 games to 2, and in Gehringer's view "we should've won the sixth game." Late in the game, Brick Owens called Mickey Cochrane out on a play at third base "even though all of the photographs show that he was safe by a mile." Gehringer insisted that, if Cochrane had been called safe, "we would've had the bases loaded with nobody out and we could've had a big inning.”[9]

The Tigers wound up losing Game 6 by one run. They then lost Game 7 in an 11–0 shutout thrown by Dizzy Dean, despite a 2-for-4 game from Gehringer.

In the sixth inning of Game 7, Joe Medwick slid hard into Marv Owen, the Tigers' third baseman, after hitting a triple. They tangled briefly, and when Medwick went to his position in left field, the Detroit fans, knowing the game was lost (the score was 9–0 by then), vented their frustrations on Medwick, throwing fruit, vegetables, bottles, cushions, etc., at him. Commissioner Landis ordered Medwick benched to end the ruckus. Newsreel footage shows Medwick slamming his glove onto the dugout bench in disgust. (Audio)

Pete Fox played for the Tigers and became the only World Series player to hit six (6) doubles in any Series of any length.

NL St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. AL Detroit Tigers (3)

Game Score Date Location Attendance
1 Cardinals – 8, Tigers – 3 October 3 Navin Field 42,505
2 Cardinals – 2, Tigers – 3 (12 innings) October 4 Navin Field 43,451
3 Tigers – 1, Cardinals – 4 October 5 Sportsman's Park 34,073
4 Tigers – 10, Cardinals – 4 October 6 Sportsman's Park 37,492
5 Tigers – 3, Cardinals – 1 October 7 Sportsman's Park 38,536
6 Cardinals – 4, Tigers – 3 October 8 Navin Field 44,551
7 Cardinals – 11, Tigers – 0 October 9 Navin Field 40,902

Awards and honors[edit]

League leaders[edit]

Players ranking among top 100 all time at position[edit]

The following members of the 1934 Detroit Tigers are among the Top 100 of all time at their position, as ranked by The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001:

Farm system[edit]

Level Team League Manager
AA Toledo Mud Hens American Association Steve O'Neill
A Beaumont Exporters Texas League Dutch Lorbeer
C Shreveport Sports/Greenwood Chiefs East Dixie League Jerry Mallett and Slim Brewer
C Charleston Senators Middle Atlantic League Charlie Niebergall
C Muskogee Tigers Western Association Conrad Fisher
D Charleroi Tigers Pennsylvania State Association Dixie Parker

Shreveport club transferred to Greenwood and renamed, July 13, 1934[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mickey Cochrane page at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  3. ^ Anthony O'Connor, "Voices from Cooperstown," p. 96.
  4. ^ Charlie Gehringer at Answers.com
  5. ^ Hank Greenberg, "Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life" (1989)
  6. ^ Tommy Bridges at the SABR Baseball Biography Project, by Ralph Berger, retrieved October 8, 2013
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Richard Bak, "Cobb Would Have Caught It" (Wayne State Univ. Press 1991), p. 252.
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, N.C.: Baseball America, 2007

References[edit]

External links[edit]