Has it really been 28 years since the magical 1984 season? Since the Tigers took charge of first place and never let go, cruising all the way to a World Series title? Sadly, yes it has been that long. Let’s take a look at where the members of that team are today.
Kirk Gibson (RF): Currently the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Gibson was named National League Manager of the Year in 2011 and probably has the highest profile of any former player on the ’84 team.
Lance Parrish (C): After two stints with the Tigers as a coach, from 1999-2001, and 2003-2005, Parrish managed in the minor leagues briefly. He is now retired and living in his native Pennsylvania. His son is a pitcher in the minors with the Texas Rangers.
Lou Whitaker (2B): The star second baseman and leadoff man of the ’84 team is living in North Carolina. He makes appearances at spring training where he is in uniform as a special instructor.
Chet Lemon (CF): The always popular former All-Star lives in Florida where he manages two successful AAU teams for kids ages 14 and up. He managed Eustis High School to the Florida State title in 2003.
Alan Trammell (SS): After a stint as manager of the Tigers from 2003-2005, Trammell spent four years as bench coach under Lou Piniella with the Chicago Cubs. He is now serving in that same role for his friend Gibson in Arizona. Many baseball historians and experts believe he is one of the most deserving players of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Darrell Evans (1B/3B/DH): The oldest player on the ’84 team, Evans is now 65 years old but he’s still working full-time for a gaming company as a consultant to ensure accuracy in their sports-related games in southern Califiornia.
Larry Herndon (LF): The man who caught the final out of the ’84 World Series, Herndon is now a coach with the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers where he coaches the son of ’84 teammate Chet Lemon. He still lives in his native Mississippi.
Dave Bergman (1B): Bergman has made Michigan his home. He runs a successful financial consulting business and also enjoys tutoring young players on hitting.
Howard Johnson (3B): Like many of his ’84 teammates, HoJo stayed in the game as a coach and manager after his playing days were over. He spent several years in the Mets organization, ultimately becoming their hitting coach in 2007, a role he filled until 2010. In 2011, he returned to the field to play two games in the Can-Am League as a teammate with his son, Glen.
Tom Brookens (3B): Brookens is currently the first base coach for the Detroit Tigers, and many feel he may become a big league manager some day. He lives in his native Pennsylvania with his wife and has two grown daughters.
Barbaro Garbey (3B/1B/DH): The former Cuban refugee had an amazing season as a role player for the ’84 team. He is the hitting coach for the Peoria Chiefs, the Class-Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Midwest League.
Johnny Grubb (OF): The man Ernie Harwell dubbed “The Gentleman from Virginia”, Grubb lives in his home state and coaches his high school alma mater’s baseball team in Richmond.
Rusty Kuntz (OF): Rusty has never really left the game of baseball, serving as a coach, minor league instructor, and scout since retiring as a player in 1985. Always optimistic and energetic, Kuntz served as the first base coach of the Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins, and Pittsburgh Pirates, and currently serves in that role for the Kansas City Royals.
Ruppert Jones (OF/DH): Rupe lives in Rancho Bernardo, California, where he works for a company that provides human resources services to government agencies. He coaches a traveling youth baseball team in San Diego with former major league pitcher Dave Stewart.
Marty Castillo (3B/C): As we reported recently, Castillo is currently in a Florida jail awaiting trial on charges that he allegedly assaulted his ex-wife. In 1999 he did time in jail for a similar offense.
Doug Baker (IF): A rookie in ’84, Baker went on to play seven more seasons in the big leagues, though he saw little action. After he retired as a player he scouted for the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, and Florida Marlins. He sold his ’84 World Series ring on eBay in 2010 for more than $12,000. The ring was the original, but Baker had a replacement that was made for him after he lost the original in the 1990s. He lives in San Diego.
Dwight Lowry (C): One of the eight Tigers who played their first big league game in 1984, Lowry served as Parrish’s backup for the first two months of the season before being sent back down to the minors. After his brief playing career, Lowry was hired as a manager in the Tigers’ minor league system, serving at Fayetteville among other stops. The 39-year old was managing Jamestown in the New York/Penn League in 1997 when he suffered a fatal heart attack just hours after his team won a game. The Tigers renamed their Player Development Man of the Year Award in his honor.
Rod Allen (DH): Allen is currently the color commentator for the Detroit Tigers on Fox Sports Detroit. Prior to working for the Tigers, Allen was a broadcaster for several other teams and also a hitting coach in the Florida Marlins organization.
Scott Earl (IF): The rookie appeared in 14 games for the Tigers in September of ’84 and never played major league ball again. He was not on the World Series roster, but he received a championship ring. He played five more years in the minor leagues through 1989. He currently lives in New York where he works in restaurant management.
Nelson Simmons (OF/DH): Simmons hit .433 in 30 at-bats for the Tigers in ’84, appearing in nine games in September. He’s proved the most difficult to locate of all the former Tigers. If anyone knows where he is and what he’s up to, let me now!
Mike Laga (1B): Laga was supposed to be a star – he was big, strong, and could hit a baseball a long way. But it never materialized into a star, though he did become the only man to ever hit a ball completely out of Busch Stadium in 1985 when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. Laga retired and lives in Florence, Massachussetts. In nearby Northampton, the Mike Laga Youth Baseball Association teaches the game to hundreds of kids ages 13-19. Laga serves as honorary chairman.
Jack Morris (SP): The ace of the ’84 staff is now a TV color commentator for the Minnesota Twins. After having his name on the ballot for 13 years, he is gradually gaining support for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dan Petry (SP): One of the most respected and well-liked members of the ’84 team (Larry Herdon calls him one of his best friends), Petry is a sales rep for a packaging company in Michigan. He’s served as a fill-in baseball analyst for Tigers radio, most recently in 2012 when Jim Price was absent due to an illness. Petry’s son is playing hockey in the NHL.
Milt Wilcox (SP): Living in Grand Rapids, Wilcox travels a lot with his black lab “Sparky” competing in dog water jumping competitions. He’s one of the organizers and driving forces behind the canine sport.
Juan Berenguar (SP): The hard-throwing right-hander who Sparky Anderson called “Pancho Villa”, is retired in Minnesota, where he had success pitching for the Twins after leaving the Tigers. He makes occasional appearances at Detroit Tigers fantasy camps.
Aurelio Lopez (RP): The likable “Senor Smoke” returned to his native Mexico after his playing career and served as municipal president (essentially mayor) of Tecamachalco until his death in September of 1992. Lopez was killed when he was thrown from the car he was driving when it overturned. He was only 44 years old.
Willie Hernandez (RP): The American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner in ’84, Hernandez is one of the most popular players from that team. He resides in Puerto Rico where he owns a cattle farm. When he returned to the U.S. to take part in events for the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit, Hernandez said, “I played for three different teams, but I want to be known as a Tiger, and I will always be a Tiger.”
Dave Rozema (P): A medical sales rep in Grand Rapids, Rozema routinely takes part in Detroit Tigers fantasy camps and is involved with the Detroit Tigers Alumni Association. He and Kirk Gibson are brother-in-laws (they married sisters).
Doug Bair (RP): After a 15-year major league career, Bair served as a pitching coach for many teams for about 10 seasons, mostly with affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds. The 63-year old is semi-retired in southern Ohio, where he still works with young players on their throwing mechanics.
Glenn Abbott (SP): The “other” fifth starter for the Tigers in ’84, the veteran made eight starts for Sparky that season, going 3-4. He never pitched in the big leagues again after ’84. He has gone on to a successful career as a pitching coach, serving in that role in the minor leagues for the Oakland A’s, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and most recently the New York Mets. In 2012 he is the pitching coach for the Binghamton Mets.
Randy O’Neal (SP): The rookie right-hander was pressed into starting duty when injuries and a series of doubleheaders in early September savaged the Tiger rotation. He performed very well, allowing no runs in his first two starts before getting shelled in the final game of the season for seven runs by the Yankees. O’Neal wasn’t on the post-season roster. He now lives in Orlando, Florida, where he works as a high school teacher and also coaches the baseball team.
Sid Monge (RP): Acquired in mid-season from the Padres, ’84 was also Monge’s final season in the big leagues. He is currently the pitching coach for Sultanes de Monterrey of the Mexican League in his homeland.
Bill Scherrer (RP): One of the flakiest members of the ’84 team, Scherrer is currently a special assistant to the GM for the Chicago White Sox. He has held various scouting positions in baseball since he retired as a player in 1989.
Roger Mason (P): ’84 was Mason’s first taste of the major leagues, but he went on to pitch eight more seasons as a valuable reliever for six National League teams. He was a pitching coach for the Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League) in 2008, but now lives quietly in his hometown of Bellaire, Michigan.
Carl Willis (RP): Like Mason, Willis was a young pitcher who went on to have a solid career as a reliever after the ’84 season. Willis is currently in his third season as the pitching coach of the Seattle Mariners after having worked in that role for several organizations, including the Cleveland Indians at the major league level from 2003-2009. He has had three of his pitchers win the Cy Young Award: C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez.
Sparky Anderson (MGR): Sparky is the only man associated with the ’84 team to earn election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2000. He is the only manager to own the franchise record for most wins for two teams (Cincinnati and Detroit), and the first manager to win World Series titles in both the AL and NL. He died at the age of 76 in November of 2010.
Roger Craig (Coach): Credited with helping Morris and Petry mature as big league pitchers, Craig was one of baseball’s most respected pitching coaches. He went on to become a manager and led the San Francisco Giants to the playoffs in 1987. He retired from managing in 1992 after posting a 738-737 record in 10 seasons. The 82-year old resides in his home state of North Carolina.
Gates Brown (Coach): The Gator was the hitting coach on the ’84 team but was replaced the next year by Vada Pinson. Brown can be seen every spring at Detroit Tigers fantasy camp in Lakeland.
Dick Tracewski (Coach): The popular Tracewski spent 30 seasons as a player, minor league manager, and major league coach for the Tigers, from 1966-1995. He retired at the same time Sparky did, but still can be seen at Tigers Fantasy Camps and special events on occasions. The 77-year old splits time between Pennsylvania and Florida.
Alex Grammas (Coach): Grammas was sort of Sparky’s Gene Lamont – the two worked together three times with three different organizations. Grammas served under Sparky as a Tigers coach for 12 seasons before retiring from the game in 1991. The 86-year old is living in retirement in Arizona.
Billy Consolo (Coach): Another close friend of Sparky and a baseball lifer, Consolo served 14 years as a Detroit coach. He retired in 1995 and died in 2008 at the age of 73 in Los Angeles.