1984 World Series
The Detroit Tigers were World Series bound right from the start of the regular season, winning thirty-five of their first forty games and finishing with one-hundred four wins (a fifteen game lead ahead of their nearest competition). After sweeping the Kansas City Royals for the American League pennant, the "Beast from the East" set its sights on the crowning achievement that would come at the expense of the National League's San Diego Padres (who were making their World Series debut).
Game 1 set the tone for the contest as Mark Thurmond managed to last five innings with a 2-1 lead, but surrendered a crucial two-out, two-run homer to Larry Herndon in the fifth. Graig Nettles and Terry Kennedy both singled to open the San Diego sixth, but the Tiger's Jack Morris (a nineteen game winner) snuffed out their momentum by striking out the rest of the side. Kurt Bevacqua continued the fleeting comeback with a leadoff double in the seventh, but was thrown out at third while attempting to stretch the bases. Despite the close call, Morris remained focused and sat down the last nine remaining Padre batters for the 3-2 victory.
Game 2 started as the opener had ended with the Tigers line-up driving San Diego starter Ed Whitson from the mound in the first inning with three opening runs. Despite the early deficit, Andy Hawkins and Craig Lefferts came in as relief and managed to save the outing with a little help from Bevacqua who was playing the role of designated hitter. Hawkins entered the contest with two out in the first and tossed 5 1/3 innings of one hit ball and Lefferts finished the job by striking out five Tigers in three scoreless innings. Still trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Bevacqua had stepped up to the plate and nailed a clutch, three run homer off Dan Petry for the lead. The 5-3 advantage remained with the San Diego bullpen completing the job that their rivals had initially started. Their magnificent efforts were quickly forgotten though when they issued eleven walks in the first five innings for an embarrassing 5-3 effort the following day. Padres' starter Tim Lollar gave up four hits (including a two run homer to Marty Castillo), four walks and four runs alone before leaving with two out in the second.
Morris returned for the fourth meeting determined to maintain the control he had shown in the Series opener and recorded his second complete game with a brilliant five hitter that edged the National League champs to the brink of elimination. Alan Trammell supported the 4-2 effort by contributing all of Detroit's runs with two, two-run home runs off of Eric Show in the first and third innings. Game 5 belonged to lumberjack Kirk Gibson who dropped two bombs into the upper-decks in the first and eighth innings. As strong around the bases as he was at the plate, the speedster took the lead in the fifth after stealing home on a shallow fly ball to right field. Lance Parrish also sent one bouncing into the cheap seats and relievers Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez (19-4 record and forty-six saves combined) held the Padres at bay for the 8-4, clinching triumph. Detroit had truly gone the distance (all the way from Opening Day), proving themselves as the best team in baseball.
However, San Diego deserved some of the credit for the Tigers good fortune too. After all, in 10 1/3-innings, the Padres rotation had combined for a humiliating 13.94 ERA. In addition to bringing home Detroit's fourth title, manager Sparky Anderson also became the first skipper to guide two separate franchises to World Series victories after winning with the Cincinnati Reds in both '75 and '76.
The 1984 World Series began on October 9 and ended on October 14, 1984. The American League champion Detroit Tigers played against the National League champion San Diego Padres, with the Tigers winning the series four games to one.
This was the first World Series that Peter Ueberroth presided over as commissioner. Ueberroth began his tenure on October 1, succeeding Bowie Kuhn. Ueberroth had been elected as Kuhn's successor prior to the 1984 season, but did not take over until the postseason as he was serving as the chairman of the 1984 Summer Olympics, which ran from July 28 through August 12. This was the last NBC-broadcast World Series to air before General Electric acquired RCA, NBC's parent company.
The San Diego Padres won the National League West division by twelve games over both the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros, then defeated the Chicago Cubs, three games to two, in the National League Championship Series. The Detroit Tigers won the American League East division by fifteen games over the Toronto Blue Jays, then swept the Kansas City Royals, three games to none, in the American League Championship Series.
The 1984 World Series was a rematch between managers Sparky Anderson (Detroit) and Dick Williams (San Diego). The two had previously faced off in the 1972 World Series, with Anderson managing the Cincinnati Reds and Williams helming the victorious Oakland Athletics. The 1984 Series was Anderson's fifth overall as a manager—in addition to the 1972 Fall Classic, he had also managed the Reds during the 1970 World Series (which they lost to the Baltimore Orioles) and served as skipper during Cincinnati's back-to-back world championships in 1975 and 1976. Anderson's counterpart, Williams, was managing in his fourth World Series; he had headed the Boston Red Sox during the 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, when they won their first pennant in 21 years in a tight race over the Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago White Sox. After his Athletics won the 1972 World Series, Williams again led them to victory in the 1973 Series over the New York Mets.
The 1984 World Series was a battle of sorts between the multi-million dollar American fast food chains. Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan owned the Tigers while McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who died several months before the 1984 World Series, owned the Padres. It would feature the first World Series game at Jack Murphy Stadium (Game 1) and the final World Series game at Tiger Stadium (Game 5).