I will never forget the 1987 Detroit Tigers season. It started out as one of the worst and ended as one of the best.
The Tigers started out 11-19 and seemed destined for mediocrity. Below is a WDIV broadcast from April of that year. You’ll notice the cynicism in the voice of the newscaster who explains how few runs the Tigers have scored recently. The clip ends with an on-field interview with manager Sparky Anderson who is beaming with optimism. He makes, what seemed at the time, outlandish predictions about the ’87 squad. He even says that it is the best group of players he’s had since being in Detroit.
Now, we all know that Sparky made plenty of predictions that never came true. But this one is almost eerily accurate. The 1987 Tigers would finish the season with the Major League’s best record at 98-64. The season ended with one of the most amazing pennant races of all time.
The Tigers were 3.5 games out of first place with one week left, and clawed back to beat the pesky Toronto Blue Jays by two games. The two teams played each other seven times in the final two weeks and every game was decided by one run. Anyone who witnessed it will tell you it was the most exciting baseball this city has ever known.
Was Sparky just blowing smoke with his April prediction or did he really see something in the Tigers that no one else did? I think you’ll agree after watching this clip that Sparky really believed what he was saying.