With the 110 some-odd World Series under our belts, it’s interesting to note the dearth of managers and abundance of players from The Great Lake State who have participated in the Fall Classic. (Birth city is in parentheses.) Among skippers, only three are Michigan natives, a figure that pales in comparison to those from other large northern states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A discussion of possible reasons is reserved for another day.
The managers are: Joe Altobelli (Detroit) – Succeeded Hall-of-Famer Earl Weaver and led ’83 Orioles to the Birds’ most recent World Series Championship; Clint Hurdle (Big Rapids) — Current Pirates’ skipper piloted ’07 Rockies and got swept by Red Sox; and Terry Collins (Midland) – Led this year’s Mets team to the “big dance.” Played at Eastern Michigan for legendary coach Ron Oestrike 1968-71. Drafted by Pirates but never cracked The Show. Managed in Bucs’ minor league system and coached under Jim Leyland in Pittsburgh 1992-93 Wears number 10 in honor of Leyland, whom he considers a mentor.
The list of players is long and impressive.
Paul Assenmacher (Detroit) – Relief pitcher for Indians in ’95 and ’97.
Steve Avery (Trenton) – Starting pitcher for the Braves in ’91, ’92, ’95 and ’96; won Game 4 of the ’95 Series to help Braves to their first (and only, to date) world championship in Atlanta.
Bob Buhl (Saginaw) – Helped Milwaukee Braves to NL pennants in ’57 and ’58, and pitched in ’57 Series.
Jim Burton (Royal Oak) – University of Michigan standout was losing pitcher in Game 7 of ’75 Series.
Bernie Carbo (Detroit) – His pinch-hit 3-run homer in Game 6 of ’75 Series paved way for Carlton Fisk’s game-winning shot to force Game 7. Also played for Reds in ’70 and ’72 Series.
Eddie Cicotte (Detroit) – Pitcher who helped White Sox defeat Giants in ’17 Series and was implicated in Black Sox Scandal two years later.
Todd Cruz (Detroit) – Strong defensive third baseman was a starter on Orioles’ ’83 championship team. His father was a groundskeeper at Tiger Stadium.
Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler (Harrisville) – Hall of Fame outfielder who helped Pirates to World Series championship in ’25, vs. Walter Johnson-led Washington Senators. Also played on Cubs’ NL pennant winners in ’29 and ’32.
Bill Freehan (Detroit) – Backstop was integral part of ’68 World Series Champion Tigers.
Charlie Gehringer (Fowlerville) – Hall of Fame second baseman who help Tigers capture ’34 pennant and ’35 World Series championship.
Kirk Gibson (Pontiac) – Hit key home runs to power Tigers to ’84 championship, and his walk-off blast off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 for ’88 Dodgers powered Blue Crew to its most recent Fall Classic triumph.
Pat Hentgen (Fraser) – Right-handed starter helped Blue Jays capture ’93 championship and won the Cy Young Award in ’96.
Art Houtteman (Detroit) – Ex-Tigers righthander pitched for Indians in ’54 Fall Classic.
Steve Howe (Pontiac) – Right-handed reliever pitched for Dodgers in ’81 Series.
Derek Lowe (Dearborn) – Right-handed starter helped Red Sox win ’04 Series, the franchise’s first title in 86 years.
Mike Marshall (Adrian) – Dodgers reliever and Michigan State grad anchored bullpen on ’74 NL Champion squad. Also won Cy Young Award that year and pitched in MLB record 106 games.
John McHale (Detroit) – First baseman appeared in ’45 Series for Tigers. Went on to become GM of the Tigers, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and Expos. His son, John McHale Jr., is former Tigers club president and current MLB executive.
Rick Miller (Grand Rapids) – Saw limited action for Boston in the ’75 World Series vs. Sparky’s Big Red Machine.
Hal Newhouser (Detroit) – Hall of Fame southpaw went 2-1 in ’45 Series for victorious Tigers. As a member of the Indians’ staff, he faced two batters in the ’54 Series vs. Giants.
Jim Northrup (Breckenridge) – Tigers outfielder hit HRs in ’68 Series and hit a two-run triple in Game 7 to propel Detroit to victory.
Frank “Stubby” Overmire (Moline) – Went 0-1 for the Tigers in ’45 Series and stayed with Detroit through ’49 before finishing his career with the Browns and Yankees. Was a Tigers pitching coach in the 1960s.
Tom Paciorek (Detroit) – Saw limited action in ’74 Series with Dodgers. Brother of ex-big leaguers Jim Paciorek and John Paciorek.
Billy Pierce (Detroit) – Southpaw who began career with ’45 Tigers saw action for ’59 White Sox and ’62 Giants, losers to the Dodgers and Yankees, respectively.
Dick Pole (Trout Creek) – Bosox reliever gave up a run in ’75 Series without retiring a Reds hitter.
Phil “The Vulture” Regan (Otsego) – Relief pitcher began his career with Tigers in ’60 and appeared in ’66 Classic with Dodgers team which got swept by Orioles. Managed Orioles in ’95.
Merv Rettenmund (Flint) – Reserve outfielder and pinch hitter appeared with Orioles in Series 1969-71, hitting home runs in ’69 and ’70. Also appeared with Reds in ’75 Classic.
Ed Reulbach (Detroit) – Right-handed pitcher appeared for Cubs in Series of ’06-’08 and ’10, helping to best his hometown team in ’07 and ’08.
Chris Sabo (Detroit) – University of Michigan standout helped Reds achieve upset sweep of A’s in ’90 Classic by hitting .563.
Scott Sanderson (Dearborn) – Former Expo and Cub pitched 1.2 innings for Oakland in ’90 Series. Finished his career with Yankees, Angels, Giants and White Sox.
Pat Sheridan (Ann Arbor) – Featured speaker at Society’s 2010 Annual Gathering appeared in ’85 Series with Royals and ’89 Classic with Giants. Also played for Tigers in ’87 ALCS.
Ted Simmons (Highland Park) – All-Star backstop appeared with Milwaukee, managed by ex-Tiger Harvey Kuenn in ’82 Series after being traded from victorious Cardinals a couple years earlier.
John Smoltz (Detroit) – Hall-of-Fame right-hander appeared in 5 World Series for the Braves, most famously matching ex-Tiger Jack Morris pitch-for-pitch in Game 7 of the ’91 Classic before Atlanta’s bullpen yielded the game’s lone run to the Twins. Morris pitched all 10 innings to pick up the win.
Mickey Stanley (Grand Rapids) – Appeared in all seven games for the Tigers in the ’68 Series. Although he hit only .214, his stellar play at shortstop allowed manager Mayo Smith’s famous gamble pay off. By benching the weak-hitting Ray Oyler in favor of Stanley, the Tigers were able to put clutch-hitting Jim Northrup in center field.
Wayne “Twig” Terwilliger (Clare) – First base coach for ’87 Twins which defeated Tigers in ALCS, and for ’91 World Series Champions.
Tom Tresh (Detroit) – Infielder appeared in three consecutive Classics (’62-’64) with Yankees. Finished career with Tigers in ’69.
John VanderWal (Grand Rapids) – Appeared in the ’98 Classic for the Padres team which got swept by the Yankees.
Jason Varitek (Rochester) – Was integral part of Bosox winners in ’04 and ’07.
Bill Virdon (Hazel Park) – Appeared for the winning Pirates in all seven games of the ’60 Classic.
Bob Welch (Detroit) – Eastern Michigan right-hander saw action with Dodgers in ’78 and ’81 Series and with A’s in ’88 and ’90 Classics. His 27 wins in ’90 are the most by any pitchers since Denny McLain’s 31 in ’68.
Rick Wise (Jackson) – Right-handed starter notched a win for Boston in the ’75 Classic.
Curt Young (Saginaw) – Central Michigan standout appeared in ’88 and ’90 World Series with A’s.
Interestingly, the ’75 Red Sox had a plethora of Michiganians on the roster: outfielder-pinch hitter Carbo, outfielder Miller, and pitchers Burton, Pole and Wise.
Michiganders who have appeared in the Fall Classic for the Tigers are Freehan, Gehringer, Gibson, McHale, Newhouser, Northrup and Stanley.
Dave Rozema (Grand Rapids), the featured speaker at the Society’s Annual Gathering in 2011, was on the ’84 Tigers’ postseason roster but did not pitch against the Royals in the ALCS, nor against the Padres in the World Series.
As for the most compelling Michigan-born World Series performer, the honor goes to Rozema’s brother-in-law, Gibson, whose two home runs in Game 5 of the ’84 Classic put the Tigers’ victory over San Diego on ice, and whose walk-off shot against Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the ’88 Series – his only at-bat in that Fall Classic due to injury – set the tone for the Dodgers’ upset of the A’s in five games.
By: Todd Miller