As feared, the labor strife that canceled the final two months of the 1994 regular season and the entire post-season bled into spring training of 1995.

It got so bad that owners considered using replacement players, a la the NFL in 1987. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson very publicly declared that he would not manage replacement players. Although that never came to pass, Sparky's stance caused friction between the manager and owner Mike Ilitch.

The strike was eventually settled, but the regular season didn't begin until April 26 for the Tigers.

The 1995 season would prove to be the last for two longtime Tigers: Lou Whitaker and Kirk Gibson. Whitaker announced early in the season that 1995 would be his last year, ending a Tigers career that began in 1977. Gibson, 38, retired on August 13, not wanting to continue as the Tigers season was going south after the All-Star Break.

Pitching, by far, was the Tigers' bugaboo in 1995. The team posted an unsightly 5.49 ERA as no less than 11 pitchers took turns in the rotation, and the Tigers used 22 pitchers total for the year.

Yet the Tigers were above .500 as late as July 9, despite their ineffective pitching. But it caught up to them, and out of the All-Star break the Tigers went into a 5-22 funk, prompting Gibson to retire.

The Tigers finished the shortened season 60-84 and in fourth place. Cecil Fielder led the team with 31 homers. Whitaker, in the last year of his superb career, played in  just 84 games, batting .293 with 14 HR.

Mike Moore, who never panned out after signing as a free agent prior to the 1993 season, really bottomed out in 1995 (5-15, 7.53 ERA).

It was also the swan song of legendary manager Anderson, who retired having won 2,194 games, three World Series, five pennants, and having the distinction of being the first manager to win World Series in both leagues.

By GregEno

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