A couple of weeks ago, I heard radio host Joe "Pags" Pagliarulo talking on WBCK about the 1976 Yankees and how he could still name them all.   I realized that I can do that with the 1968 Detroit Tigers.   It’s amazing how things go into a 7 year old brain and stay there forever.  I can even tell you the uniform number of most of the ’68 Tigers….for instance: #3, left-hand batting second baseman and lead-off hitter Dick McAuliffe.

Photo: Topps Baseball Cards
Photo: Topps Baseball Cards

The long time Tigers’ infielder died Friday in Connecticut at age 76 following a battle with Alzheimer’s.    McAuliffe, a fiery competitor with an unorthodox batting stance joined the Tigers as a 20-year-old in 1960.  He began at shortstop, and shifted to second base and played for the Tigers until 1973.  He played in three straight All-Star Games in the mid 60’s and led the American League with 95 runs scored in the Tigers Championship season of 1968. He didn't ground into a double play all season that year.

Former Tiger Mickey Stanley remembered McAuliffe in a Detroit News Article.

“He was a man’s man, a hustler, a fighter, and he didn’t take any crap from anybody.”

Topps Baseball Cards
Topps Baseball Cards

Tigers’ radio announcer Jim Price played with McAuliffe, and talked about him in a Detroit Free Press Article:  “I remember a time where a pitcher drilled him,” Price said. “Next time we played them, he led off with a drag bunt. Pitcher came over to field it. He knocked the pitcher over.”  Price said McAuliffe wasn’t mean though.  “Just tough,” Price said. “Not mean at all. But you do him wrong from another team, they had to pay the price.”

Of the 33 Tigers who suited up in the historic 1968 World Championship season, 12 have passed away.

  • Dick McAuliffe d2016 aged 76
  • Norm Cash d1986 aged 51
  • Jim Northrup d2011 aged 71
  • Ray Oyler d1981  aged 42
  • Gates Brown d 2013 aged 74
  • Earl Wilson, d2005 aged 70
  • Joe Sparma, d 1986 aged 44
  • Pat Dobson, d 2006 aged 64
  • Don McMahon, d 1987 aged 57
  • Eddie Matthews d 2001 aged 69
  • Bob Christian, d 1974 aged 28
  • John Wyatt, d 1998 aged 62

The good news is that plenty are still with us!

More From WKMI