Manager Bucky Harris began his fourth season as Tigers manager with a brand new first baseman, and a healthy Charlie Gehringer. Billy Rogell would be starting his third year as the Tigers SS after coming to Detroit from the Boston Red Sox. Harris had some fragile steadiness on the mound in Earl Whitehill, Vic Sorrell and an emerging Tommy Bridges.
But Harris didn't know that there would be lots more changes on tap for his team.
The new first baseman was slick fielding Harry Davis, who had supplanted the struggling Dale Alexander. Davis was a lefty swinger and he seized the starting 1B job. In fact, Davis was so good that in June, the Tigers ended up trading Alexander, along with outfielder Roy Johnson, to the Red Sox for aging outfielder Earl Webb, who was 35 years old and near the end of his career. It was a curious trade, and made even worse when Alexander caught fire and solved the Bosox' woes at first base.
Meanwhile, the Tigers pitched better, played better, and Gehringer did indeed stay healthy all year, though he fell just shy of the .300 mark, batting at a .298 clip. It all added up to a good start and at the close of May, the Bengals were 24-16 and in second place, nipping at the heels of the mighty Yankees.
Tommy Bridges, Earl Whitehill and Vic Sorrell weren't the best trio of pitchers in the league, but they were formidable enough to give the Tigers a chance to win on most days. Bridges again led the team in Ks with 108, and he twirled four shutouts, also the team lead.
Come the July 4th holiday, traditionally a barometer of who might win the pennant, the Tigers were hanging in there, 41-29 and still in second place, though the margin had grown to 7.5 games between them and the Yankees.
But losing out to the Yankees was certainly nothing to be ashamed of; the Bronx Bombers were simply too good for the Tigers to catch. Indeed, by the end of the season, the Yankees won the AL pennant by 13 games over the second place Philadelphia A's, the New Yorkers going 107-47.
The Tigers finished 76-75 with three rainouts. They faded, but they at least ended their streak of four straight losing seasons.
Maybe the Tigers were finally turning the corner.By GregEno
More From Around the Web
On March 11, 1988, longtime manager Gene Mauch takes a leave ...
On March 11, 1981, the Veterans Committee elects slugger Joh ...
On March 11, 1974, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders the Atlant ...
- Billy Rogell, Bucky Harris, Charlie Gehringer, Dale Alexander, Earl Webb, Earl Whitehill, Harry Davis, Roy Johnson, Tommy Bridges, Vic Sorrell