Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Long It's Been: The Detroit Tigers Won the World Series

The World Series begins tonight, in San Francisco. The Giants host the Detroit Tigers.  First pitch scheduled for 5:07 PM Pacific Time -- 8:07 Eastern Time, on the Rupert Murdoch network.

Phillip Phillips will sing the National Anthem -- because it's Fox, and because he won American Idol one of these years.

The Anthem singers for Game 2 -- and, if it gets that far, Games 6 and 7 -- have not yet been revealed by the Giants  The Tigers, however, while not yet having revealed the Game 4 singer, are bringing out 2 big guns: For Game 3, gospel legend Marvin Winans; for Game 5, someone else familiar with gospel, Detroit's own Aretha Franklin. (Could Game 4 be reserved for Jose Feliciano again?)

I can't yet find any reference to who will throw out the ceremonial first balls. For the Giants, I suspect there will be at least one of these: Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda. For the Tigers, it would make sense to have Al Kaline, Kirk Gibson, maybe a double act of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.

Two years ago, when the Giants won the World Series for the first time since 1954 (and they were still in New York at the time), I began my "How Long It's Been" feature.

The Tigers haven't won the World Series since October 14, 1984, when Gibson's 2 homers won Game 5, 8-4, and the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres at Tiger Stadium. Trammell and Whitaker, slugging catcher Lance Parrish, pitching ace Jack Morris, and reliever Willie Hernandez -- who was awarded that season's American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards -- were on the team.

That's 28 years and 10 days.  How long has that been?


Major League Baseball had 26 teams. The Colorado Rockies, Florida/Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays had yet to debut. The idea that the Montreal Expos would move was not even being considered. But the Minnesota Twins, in spite of having the relatively new Metrodome, were already listening to entreaties from Tampa Bay, whose dome hadn't even begun construction. The Seattle Mariners were also listening.

Baseball had domed stadiums, but no retractable roofs. Wrigley Field in Chicago did not yet have lights. There were lots of black and Hispanic players in the major leagues, but as yet hardly anyone from the Eastern Hemisphere. There was Interleague play, but we called it "spring training" and "the World Series."

Steve Goodman, a big Cubs fan the songwriter who wrote "The City of New Orleans," was invited to sing the National Anthem at one of the Cubs' National League Championship Series games. But he died of leukemia a few days before it could happen, and the Cubs blew a 2-games-to-0 lead as the Padres won 3 straight in San Diego. Goodman had battled the illness for years, and had written a black-comedy song called "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request," which included this stanza:

I've got season tickets to watch the Angels play now
and that's just what I'm gonna do.
But you, the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs
so it's me that feels sorry for you!

The Cubs do still play at Wrigley, frequently under lights, although they still play far more home day games than any other team. Surprisingly, there are only 6 stadiums in use by MLB teams in 1984 that are (barring a disaster) still going to be used in 2013: Wrigley, Fenway Park in Boston, Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium in Kansas City, the Oakland Coliseum, and the two Los Angeles-area stadiums, Dodger Stadium and Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium of Anaheim).

The defining players of my childhood were either retired, or winding it down. Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench retired the previous year. Pete Rose probably should have, but he wanted that hit record. Reggie Jackson and Tom Seaver had something left. Mike Schmidt had 1 more MVP season in him. Nolan Ryan had another 2 no-hitters and 1,000 or so strikeouts in him. He, George Brett, Carlton Fisk and Robin Yount kept going until 1993.

Derek Jeter was living in Michigan, the Tigers' home State, in Kalamazoo, but he was only 9 years old. Alex Rodriguez was 8, David Ortiz was 7, Jimmy Rollins was 5, Albert Pujols was 4, David Wright was about to turn 2, current Tiger stars Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera were a year and a half, and current Tiger star Max Scherzer was a few weeks old. Current Giants stars Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weren't born yet. Nor were Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout or Bryce Harper.

The Tigers had dethroned the Baltimore Orioles as defending World Champions. The titleholders in the other sports were the Los Angeles Raiders of the NFL, the Boston Celtics of the NBA, the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, and Larry Holmes was the Heavyweight Champion of the World. That was the 1st title for Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and company, while the Raiders haven't won one since.

The Champions of both England's Football League and the European Cup was Liverpool Football Club, while the FA Cup was won by "the other Liverpool team," Everton, over Watford, a team from Hertfordshire in the London suburbs, best known for being owned by Elton John.

Current Tigers manager Jim Leyland was Tony La Russa's 3rd base coach with the Chicago White Sox. Current Giants manager Bruce Bochy was in that World Series, Terry Kennedy's backup as the Padres' catcher. Terry Collins of the Mets was managing in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system. Tom Coughlin of the Giants was the Philadelphia Eagles' receivers coach. Mike D'Antoni of the Knicks was playing in the Italian basketball league. John Tortorella of the Rangers was playing for the minor-league Virginia Lancers. Joe Girardi of the Yankees was playing at Northwestern University. Rex Ryan of the Jets and Avery Johnson were both playing their sports in college in Oklahoma, at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Cameron University, respectively. Jack Capuano of the Islanders was playing at the University of Maine. And Peter DeBoer of the Devils was in high school in Ontario.

The Olympics had just been held in Los Angeles, and have since been held in the U.S. twice more, Canada twice, Korea, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, Australia, Greece, Italy, China and Britain. The World Cup has since been held in the U.S., Mexico, Italy, France, Japan, Korea, Germany and South Africa.

The President of the United States was Ronald Reagan, and he would defeat Jimmy Carter's Vice President, Walter Mondale, with 58 percent of the vote and 525 Electoral Votes -- nearly winning Mondale's home State of Minnesota, and winning all the others. This in spite of unemployment being 7.5 percent, higher than the 7.1 percent he inherited. George Bush was his Vice President -- we generally didn't add the "H.W." initials until his son, George W., became President. George W. was drinking like a fish and running an energy company into the ground.

Bill Clinton was about to be elected to a 3rd term as Governor of Arkansas. Barack Obama was at Harvard Law School. Mitt Romney had just begun work at a new company called Bain Capital. Former Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and their wives, and the widows of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, were still alive. None of the Justices then on the Supreme Court are still on it. There were then 26 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

The Mayor of Detroit was Coleman Young, the city's 1st black Mayor. The Governor of Michigan was Jim Blanchard. The Mayor of, uh, the City of, uh, New York was, uh, Ed Koch. The Governor of the State of New York was Mario Cuomo. The Govuhnuh of New Juhsey was Tom Kean. Strange that, of those three -- the proper patrician Kean, the nebbishy-looking Jewish intellectual Koch, and the Italian street kid Cuomo --  Cuomo was the one who had the best diction.

His son Andrew, the current Governor, was an Assistant District Attorney. Bill de Blasio was working for the City's Department of Juvenile Justice. Chris Christie was at Seton Hall University School of Law.

There were still survivors of the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Potemkin Mutiny and the Scottsboro Boys. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu was about to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Pope was John Paul II. The current Pope, Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Prime Minister of Canada, having newly turned out the Liberal Party of Pierre Trudeau and John Turner, was the Progressive Conservative Party Leader, Brian Mulroney. The monarch of Britain was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed -- and the Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher. There have since been 5 Presidents of the United States, 5 Prime Ministers of Britain and 2 Popes.

Major novels of 1984 -- all becoming movies of note -- were Gore Vidal's Lincoln, John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick, Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

David Mamet premiered his play Glengarry Glen Ross, which also became a good movie. Dr. Seuss produced his last great children's book, The Butter Battle Book, about 2 cultures that go to war because of which side on which their bread should be buttered. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted as a comic book. Ted Hughes, who had been married to Sylvia Plath, was named Poet Laureate of Britain. George R.R. Martin published The Armageddon Rag, which, he thought, "essentially destroyed my career as a novelist at that time." J.K. Rowling was at the University of Exeter.

No one had yet heard of Forrest Gump, John McClane, Alex Cross, Bridget Jones, Robert Langdon, Bella Swan, Lisbeth Salander or Katniss Everdeen.

Films released in the fall of 1984 included Amadeus (in reality, Antonio Salieri had nothing to do with the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and their rivalry was a cordial one), Joe Morton as the title character in The Brother from Another Planet, and All of Me, a comedy where Steve Martin's body is possessed by a dead woman played by Lily Tomlin. A few months after releasing The Man With Two Brains -- my mother said it made up for all the movies where he had none -- he was now a body with 2 minds.

And, naturally, there was a film version of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It starred John Hurt -- who, 22 years later, would play a "Big Brother"-like fascist dictator of Britain in V for Vendetta.

The 1st Terminator film was also released. As you know, Bob, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who has been back. What you may not know is that writer-director James Cameron originally wanted a real athlete, turned actor, to play the role: O.J. Simpson. So why didn't O.J. get the role? Because focus groups, told about the idea, couldn't believe O.J. as a killer. And yet, for all the trouble he's caused for himself and others, Arnold still wouldn't swap lives with O.J. today.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had been released the preceding June. The Star Wars saga seemed to have been ended with the release the year before of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Roger Moore was filming his last James Bond movie, A View to a Kill. Christopher Reeve was still Superman, but Batman was still in the long interregnum between Adam West and Michael Keaton. The Doctor was played by Colin Baker.

Christian Bale was 10 years old, Tobey Maguire was 9, Brandon Routh was 5, Chris Evans was 3, Hayley Atwell was 2, Chris Hemsworth was 1. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart hadn't been born yet. Nor had Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

The game show Jeopardy! had just returned to television after a few years off the air, with a new host, Alex Trebek. Montana became the last State with a PBS station. Farrah Fawcett starred in the TV-movie The Burning Bed on NBC, about a battered wife's revenge. It was the 1st time a movie ever beat ABC's Monday Night Football in the ratings.

Shows that had just debuted included The Cosby Show, Who's the Boss?, Punky Brewster, Charles in Charge, Highway to Heaven, Miami Vice, Hunter, Murder She Wrote, Transformers, Tales From the Darkside, and E/R -- a half-hour comedy on CBS, starring Elliot Gould. Aside from being set in a hospital in Chicago, that show had no connection to the later NBC drama ER.

Actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot and killed himself on the set of his new spy drama, Cover-Up. He was replaced by Antony Hamilton, but the show was canceled after one season. Hamilton, too, would die young, from AIDS.

Robert Kardashian Sr. and Kris Jenner were still married. Khloe had been born earlier in the year, Kim was about to turn 4, Kourtney was 5, and Kanye West was 6.

Mark Harmon was part of the ensemble cast of St. Elsewhere, David McCallum was on the London stage, Lauren Holly had just gotten her 1st TV role in Hill Street Blues, Rocky Carroll was at Webster University, Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette were in high school, Sasha Alexander was 11, Brian Dietzen and Sean Murray were about to turn 7, and Cote de Pablo was about to turn 5.

Susan Sullivan was part of the ensemble cast of Falcon Crest, Jon Huertas was in high school, Nathan Fillion was 13, Tamala Jones was about to turn 10, Seamus Dever was 8, Stana Katic was 6, and Molly Quinn wasn't born yet.

Ty Burrell was 17, Julie Bowen was 14, Eric Stonestreet was 13, Sofia Vergara was 12, Jesse Tyler Ferguson was about to turn 9, and none of the Modern Family kids had yet been born. Aside from Matthew Morrison (nearly 6) and Cory Monteith (2), no castmember of Glee had yet been born. Aside from Natalie Dormer, none of the younger members of the cast of Game of Thrones had yet been born.

Freddie Prinze Jr., Fred Savage and Benedict Cumberbatch were 8, Kerry Washington and Sarah Michelle Gellar were 7, Katie Holmes was 5, Ben Savage was 4. Hayden Christiensen, Jessica Alba and Natalie Portman were 3. Sienna Miller was 2, Matt Smith almost was. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Jennifer Lawrence, weren't born yet.

The Number 1 song in America in October 1984 was "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder. U2 released The Unforgettable Fire, Chaka Khan I Feel for You, Talking Heads Stop Making Sense, Paul McCartney the soundtrack to Give My Regards to Broad Street, and Julian Lennon his debut album Valotte. Also released were Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and The Age of Consent by Bronski Beat -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

Michael Jackson and his brothers were doing their Victory Tour. Bruce Springsteen was basking in the glory of Born in the U.S.A., Prince in that of Purple Rain, and Madonna in that of Like a Virgin. Bob Dylan was touring to support Infidels.

Kurt Cobain was in high school. Alanis Morissette was 10 years old, Shakira Mebarak was 7, Alecia Moore (Pink) was 5, Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child was 4. Kelly Rowland and Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys were 3, Britney Spears nearly so. Lady Gaga, Drake, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber weren't born yet. Nor was any member of the Jonas Brothers or One Direction.

Inflation has been such that what $1.00 would buy then, $2.20 would buy now. A U.S. postage stamp was 20 cents, and a subway ride in New York was 90 cents. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.20, a cup of coffee $1.18, a McDonald's meal (Big Mac, fries, shake) $2.85, a movie ticket $3.46, a new car $6,294, and a new house $97,800. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the preceding Friday at 1,190.70.

The tallest building in the world was the Sears Tower in Chicago. Desktop computers were all the rage in 1984, although the Internet as we have come to know it was still a few years away. It was the 1st year that portable phones began to sell well, although they were still big enough to be called "bricks." The Atari 5200 and ColecoVision were battling it out to be the leading home video game system.

In the fall of 1984, the Space Shuttle Discovery made its 1st voyage into space. The shuttle Challenger was launched, making Marc Garneau the 1rst Canadian in space and Kathryn Sullivan the 1st American woman to make a spacewalk. Dr. Judith Resnik was also on this mission; she would also be aboard Challenger's last mission. Joe Kittinger became the 1st person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon.

Poland's Communist secret police kidnapped and assassinated Father Jerzy Popieluszko, for his advocacy of the labor union Solidarity. The Ethiopian famine was revealed to the world. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India was assassinated by 2 of her security guards, Sikhs, angry at her actions against Sikh separatists earlier in the year.

Janet Gaynor, and Richard Basehart, and Francois Truffaut died. Katy Perry, and Lindsey Vonn, and current Giants pitcher Matt Cain were born.

October 14, 1984: The Detroit Tigers won their 4th World Series. Now, they are in position to win their 5th. Can they do it? Or will San Francisco prove a Giant, insurmountable roadblock? Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Clay Eals said...

Great to see your blog post that invokes Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request." Goodman often doesn't get his due. You might be interested in my 800-page biography, "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." The book delves deeply into the genesis, context and effects of "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and its semi-sequel, "Go, Cubs, Go."

You can find out more at my Internet site (below). The book's first and second printing sold out, and a third printing was published last summer. It won a 2008 IPPY (Independent Publishers Association) silver medal for biography.

If you're not already familiar with the book, I hope you find it of interest. 'Nuff said.

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

(206) 935-7515 home
(206) 484-8008 cell