1968 World Series: Wikis

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1968 World Series
Team (Wins) Manager Season
Detroit Tigers (4) Mayo Smith 103–59, .636, GA: 12
St. Louis Cardinals (3) Red Schoendienst 97–65, .599, GA: 9
Dates: October 2–October 10
MVP: Mickey Lolich (Detroit)
Television: NBC
TV announcers: Curt Gowdy, Harry Caray (Games 1–2, 6–7), George Kell (Games 3–5)
Radio: NBC
Radio announcers: Pee Wee Reese, Ernie Harwell (Games 1–2, 6–7), Jack Buck (Games 3–5)
Umpires: Tom Gorman (NL), Jim Honochick (AL), Stan Landes (NL), Bill Kinnamon (AL), Doug Harvey (NL), Bill Haller (AL)
Future Hall of Famers: Tigers: Al Kaline, Eddie Mathews
Cardinals: Red Schoendienst‡ (mgr.), Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson
‡ elected as a player.
 < 1967 World Series 1969 > 

The 1968 World Series featured the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, with the Tigers winning in seven games for their first championship since 1945, and the third in their history. The Tigers came back from a 3–1 deficit to win three in a row, largely on the arm of MVP Mickey Lolich, who won three complete games in a single World Series, a feat that has not been duplicated since, as of 2008. In his third appearance in the Series, Lolich had to pitch after only two days' rest in the deciding Game 7, because regular-season 31-game winner Denny McLain was moved up to game 6 - also on two days rest. In Game 5, the Tigers' hopes for the title would have been very much in jeopardy had Bill Freehan not tagged out Lou Brock in a home plate collision when Brock mistakenly elected not to slide and went in standing up.

The narrow win for the Tigers was due, in small part, to a bold gamble by Manager Mayo Smith. The Tigers rotated four good hitting outfielders during the season (Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Al Kaline, and Jim Northrup); in an effort to get all four into the lineup in the World Series, Smith moved center fielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop (replacing Ray Oyler, who batted .135 during the season) even though he had never played there in his minor or major league career. The gamble paid off as Al Kaline batted .379 with eleven hits including two home runs and eight RBIs, Jim Northrup knocked in eight runs to go along with his two home runs, and Willie Horton hit .304 with a home run and six runs scored while Stanley made only two insignificant errors.

The 1968 season was tagged "The Year of the Pitcher", and the Series featured dominant performances from Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, MVP of the 1964 World Series and 1967 World Series. Gibson came into the Series with a stunning regular-season Earned Run Average of just 1.12, and he would pitch complete games in Games 1, 4, and 7. He was the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4. In Game 1, he threw a shutout, striking out seventeen batters, besting Sandy Koufax's 1963 record by two, and which still stands as the World Series record as of 2008. In Game 4, a solo home run by Jim Northrup was the only offense the Tigers were able to muster, as Gibson struck out ten batters. In Game 7, Gibson was defeated by series MVP Mickey Lolich, allowing three runs on four straight hits in the decisive seventh inning, although the key play was a triple that was seemingly misplayed by Flood in center field which could have been the third out with no runs scoring.

The Series saw the Cardinals lose a Game 7 for the first time in their history. The Tigers were the third team to come back from a three games to one deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series, the first two being the 1925 Pirates and the 1958 Yankees. Later, the 1979 Pirates, and 1985 Royals would accomplish this feat.

The two teams met again in the 2006 World Series. The Cardinals once again raced to a three games to one lead, but didn't relinquish it as they captured the championship in five games. That would give the Cardinals the "rubber match" of their other two encounters in 1934 and 1968.

This was the last World Series to be played before the introduction of divisional play in Major League Baseball, and subsequent expansion of the postseason to include the League Championship Series. In his book about the history of the World Series, historian Lee Allen made the point that it was the last "pure" World Series, in the sense that divisional play would raise the possibility that the team with the best record from one or both leagues might not get into the Series, which has proven to be an accurate prediction (both teams in 2006, for example).

Contents

Summary

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

Game Date Score Location Time Attendance
1 October 2 Detroit Tigers – 0, St. Louis Cardinals – 4 Busch Stadium (II) 2:29 54,692[1]
2 October 3 Detroit Tigers – 8, St. Louis Cardinals – 1 Busch Stadium (II) 2:41 54,692[2] 
3 October 5 St. Louis Cardinals – 7, Detroit Tigers – 3 Tiger Stadium 3:17 53,634[3] 
4 October 6 St. Louis Cardinals – 10, Detroit Tigers – 1 Tiger Stadium 2:34 53,634[4] 
5 October 7 St. Louis Cardinals – 3, Detroit Tigers – 5 Tiger Stadium 2:43 53,634[5] 
6 October 9 Detroit Tigers – 13, St. Louis Cardinals – 1 Busch Stadium (II) 2:26 54,692[6] 
7 October 10 Detroit Tigers – 4, St. Louis Cardinals – 1 Busch Stadium (II) 2:07 54,692[7]

Matchups

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Game 1

Wednesday, October 2, 1968 at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 3
St. Louis 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 X 4 6 0

WP: Bob Gibson (1–0)  LP: Denny McLain (0–1)  
HRs:  STL – Lou Brock (1)

No adjective could describe Bob Gibson's performance in Game 1. This menacing right-handed pitcher shut out the Tigers on just five hits, and he struck out the World Series-record seventeen Detroit Tigers' batters.

The Cardinals broke through with three in the fourth off the Tigers's pitcher Denny McLain. After McLain walked the batters Roger Maris and Tim McCarver, the Cardinals' third baseman, Mike Shannon, singled in Maris, and Shannon went to second base when the Tigers' center fielder Jim Northrup misplayed the ball. McCarver pulled in at third. The Cardinals' second baseman, Julian Javier, followed this by singling in both of the baserunners to make the score 3–0. The Cardinals' outfielder Lou Brock added a solo home run in the seventh inning to complete the scoring.

Game 2

Thursday, October 3, 1968 at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 1 1 0 0 3 1 0 2 8 13 1
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 1

WP: Mickey Lolich (1–0)  LP: Nelson Briles (0–1)  
HRs:  DET – Willie Horton (1), Mickey Lolich (1), Norm Cash (1)

The Tigers' starting pitcher Mickey Lolich wasn't as dominating as Bob Gibson had been in Game 1, since he struck out "only" nine batters, but the result was the same, the the Tigers winning and evening-up the Series.

The Tigers' outfielder Willie Horton knocked a home run in the second inning, and Lolich also helped his own cause with a solo homer in the third inning off the Cardinals' pitcher, Nelson Briles. This was the only home run that Lolich hit during his entire professional career. The Tigers broke the game open in the sixth inning when their outfielder Norm Cash led off with another solo homer, and their second baseman, Dick McAuliffe, knocked a two-run single.

The Cardinals' first baseman, Orlando Cepeda, gave the Cardinals some runs with an RBI single in the sixth, but that was all they scored. Jim Northrup allowed in his fellow outfielder Al Kaline to score by hitting into a double play in the seventh inning, and the Tigers scored their final two runs with bases loaded walks to Don Wert and Lolich.

Game 3

Saturday, October 5, 1968 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 4 0 3 0 0 7 13 0
Detroit 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 4 0

WP: Ray Washburn (1–0)  LP: Earl Wilson (0–1)  SV: Joe Hoerner (1)  
HRs:  STL – Tim McCarver (1), Orlando Cepeda (1)  DET – Al Kaline (1), Dick McAuliffe (1)

Al Kaline started the scoring with a two-run homer in the third inning, but the Cardinals came back in the fifth inning on an RBI double by their center fielder, Curt Flood, and on a three-run homer by their catcher, Tim McCarver, off pitcher Pat Dobson. The Tigers cut this deficit to just one run with a solo home run by Dick McAuliffe. However, Orlando Cepeda next put the game out of reach in the seventh inning by smacking a three-run home run.

Game 4

Sunday, October 6, 1968 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 2 0 2 2 0 0 0 4 0 10 13 0
Detroit 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 4

WP: Bob Gibson (2–0)  LP: Denny McLain (0–2)  
HRs:  STL – Lou Brock (2), Bob Gibson (1)  DET – Jim Northrup (1)

Denny McLain, a 31-game winning pitcher during the regular season, did not prove too much in this World Series, as this one-sided pitching match-up with Bob Gibson showed. Lou Brock led the game off with a home run, and Mike Shannon also added an RBI single in the first inning. Two more Cardinals' runs were knocked in during third inning on Tim McCarver's RBI triple and Mike Shannon's RBI double. A heavy rainfall in Detroit caused a one-hour and 15-minute rain delay. After play was resumed, Bob Gibson helped his own cause and added to the damage by hitting a home run off McLain in the fourth inning. Next, Lou Brock knocked a triple and the scored on a ground-out by Roger Maris.

The Cardinals' final runs came in the eighth inning when Gibson walked with the bases loaded, forcing in one run, and then Lous Brock drove in three more runs with a double. Brock missed hitting for the cycle in this game just by not hitting a single. The Tigers' only run came in the fourth innin when Jim Northrup hit a home run off Gibson.

Other than this, Bob Gibson was a nearly perfect pitcher, as he pitched his second complete game in this World Series, and also struck out ten batters. The Cards now had a nearly-commanding three-games-to-one lead in this Series.

Game 5

Monday, October 7, 1968 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 0
Detroit 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 0 X 5 9 1

WP: Mickey Lolich (2–0)  LP: Joe Hoerner (0–1)  
HRs:  STL – Orlando Cepeda (2)

With the World Series on the line, the Tigers used their winner of Game 2, Mickey Lolich, as their starting pitcher. Lolich's first inning in this game was not too promising, since he allowed an RBI single by Curt Flood, and also a two-run home run to Orlando Cepeda. However, Lolich soon settled down, and he struck out eight Cardinals' batters, and allowed no more runs by the Cardinals.

The Tigers' first baseman, Norm Cash, began their winning comeback with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, and this was followed by Jim Northrup's RBI single. During the fifth inning, the Cardinals had a chance to go up by two runs after Lou Brock hit a double, after one batter was out. The Cardinals' second baseman, Julian Javier, followed this with a base hit to left left. Outfielder Willie Horton fielded the ball off the ground and then fired the ball towards home plate. Rather surprisingly, instead of sliding in towards home plate, Brock tried to bowl over the Tigers' catcher, Bill Freehan. However, Freehan caught and held onto the ball, and Brock was called "out". This was the last time that the Cardinals threatened to score.

The Cardinals' starting pitcher, Nelson Briles, was taken out of the game in the seventh inning with one runner on base, and replaced by a relief pitcher, Joe Hoerner. The Tigers next executed their game-winning rally off Hoerner's pitches, with Al Kaline knocking in two runs with a single, and finally Norm Cash knocked in their last run with a single.

Jose Feliciano's unconventional pre-game singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" aroused considerable controversy, with the Tigers and NBC-TV both receiving thousands of angry letters and telephone calls about Feliciano's perfomance.

Game 6

Wednesday, October 9, 1968 at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 2 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 13 12 1
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 9 1

WP: Denny McLain (1–2)  LP: Ray Washburn (1–1)  
HRs:  DET – Jim Northrup (2), Al Kaline (2)

Needing two wins in the Cardinals' own stadium to win the World Series, the Tigers' manager, Mayo Smith, chose Denny McLain again as his starting pitcher, even though he had not been very successful in his two prior World Series starts. The choice of McLain paid off, with McLain pitching a complete game in a 13–1 rout of the Cardinals by the Tigers.

The rout began innocently enough in the second inning on RBI hits by the Tigers' Willie Horton and Bill Freehan. However, during the third inning the floodgates opened up for the Tigers as they scored again and again off three Cardinal pitchers. The Tigers batted around with a record of ten runs in one inning of a World Series gamne. In this one Jim Northrup hit a grand slam home run and both Al Kaline and Norm Cash hit run-producing singles, including a two-run single for Kaline. Willy Horton hit another RBI single in this outburst of runs. Kaline added a solo home run in the fifth inning as his only World Series home run, ever.

Game 7

Thursday, October 10, 1968 at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 4 8 1
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 0

WP: Mickey Lolich (3–0)  LP: Bob Gibson (2–1)  
HRs:  STL – Mike Shannon (1)

In a fitting end to this Series, the two teams' hottest pitchers, Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson squared off in what was almost a classic duel, but was broken on a hit over the head of Curt Flood.

Lolich and Gibson matched zeros for six innings, but, in the top of the seventh, Gibson surrendered two-out hits to Norm Cash and Willie Horton. Jim Northrup then lifted a deep fly to center; Curt Flood, who won numerous gold gloves in his career, misjudged it and briefly started in on the ball before turning around to go back. The ball one-hopped the warning track, two runs had scored and Northrup had a triple, and Lolich had all the runs he needed. Flood has been criticized by some that, had his first step been back instead of in, he would have caught the ball. Jim Northrup himself, however, said the hit was 40 feet over Flood's head. TV footage backs-up Northrup's claim: Flood was playing shallow, and even had he started back, it is questionable whether he would have caught the ball. Bill Freehan then doubled in Northrup, and in the top of the ninth, Don Wert would add an RBI single.

The Cardinals would get a run in the ninth on a Mike Shannon homer, but that was all as Lolich would pitch his third complete game. Gibson struck out eight in the losing cause, giving him a World Series record of 35 strikeouts by one pitcher in a Series.

Series quotes

Gibson has tied the record of Sandy Koufax, fifteen strikeouts in a single World Series game. Trying for number sixteen right now against Cash to break the record. He takes his set position, he delivers, here's the pitch...Swing and a miss, he did it!
Ernie Harwell, calling Bob Gibson's record-setting sixteenth strikeout in Game 1 on NBC Radio.
Just think, he's accounted for sixteen of the putouts all by himself...He got him! Struck him out! Look at the scene on the field, McCarver the first one! Now these infielders all over him! A new World Series record of seventeen strikeouts in one game!
Harry Caray, calling Gibson's seventeenth Game 1 strikeout on NBC television.
Javier. Curveball, hit hard, out into left field. It's in there for a base hit, Horton may have a shot at Brock. Here comes the throw, Don Wert lets it go...and he runs over Freehan, and they got him!
Pee Wee Reese, calling the play at home plate in the fifth inning of Game 5 on NBC Radio.
Its a happy bunch of Tigers!
Curt Gowdy, describing the scene after the final out in Game 7 on NBC television.

Composite box

1968 World Series (4–3): Detroit Tigers (A.L.) over St. Louis Cardinals (N.L.)

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 3 13 3 2 3 7 0 3 34 56 11
St. Louis Cardinals 5 0 2 5 4 1 4 4 2 27 61 2
Total attendance: 379,670   Average attendance: 54,239
Winning player’s share: $10,937   Losing player’s share: $7,079[8]

Notes

References

  • Cantor, George. (1997). The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-878-33928-0.
  • Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. (1990). The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins. ISBN 0-312-03960-3.
  • Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2176. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-025-79010-2.
  • Forman, Sean L.. "1968 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1968_WS.shtml. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 

External links

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