Dick McAuliffe

This article was written by John Cizik.

Richard John McAuliffe was born in Hartford, Connecticut on November 29, 1939. He grew up in the tiny town of Unionville, a burg "not exactly a breeding spot for major league athletes," according to Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, another Connecticut native. "Chickens are more along its line... Unionville has about nine months of winter," Murray recalled. "And summer is apt to be three months of thunder showers." McAuliffe played baseball at Farmington High School under legendary coach Leo Pinsky, whose teams won 411 games and three State Championships. "He was an excellent baseball coach," McAuliffe recalls. "A very tough individual. When you didn't show up for practice, when you didn't run hard, when you didn't hustle, he'd take you right out of the ballgame and sit you right down. I thought those were good rules he had, and I think that gave me a lot of desire and hustle." At 5'10" and 140 pounds, Dick was also the fullback on Farmington's football team, and a star basketball player.

Dick caught the attention of Red Sox scout Joe Dugan during a tryout camp at Bristol's Muzzy Field during his junior year in high school. McAuliffe was 16 years old. Dugan told him to come back around the next year when he turned 17. Unfortunately, the McAuliffe family was a victim of the 1955 flood that damaged many houses in Collinsville and the Farmington River valley, and Dick spent the year helping restore housing instead of returning to Farmington High. He did finish school a year later, leading the Indians baseball team to the state tournament at Muzzy Field as a pitcher and third baseman. "I was pitching a game in the State Championships... I always had a good arm in high school," Dick says. "My first eleven pitches I threw were all balls. And we had two guys on and a 3-0 count on the next hitter, so Leo Pinsky took me out. [H]e put me at third base... and I made a couple of good plays... and got a couple of hits. Detroit Tigers scout Lew Cassell was in the stands during that tournament and McAuliffe recalls their conversation after that game. "You're not a pitcher, by the way, are you?" Dick remembers Cassell asking. "I think he already knew that, but he was pulling my leg. Then he gave me an application to fill out... and about two weeks later he was in the area, and he called my parents on a Sunday afternoon and he asked if I wanted to sign professionally...and I said 'yes, I do.' " McAuliffe signed shortly after the class of 1957 graduated, guaranteeing a $500 bonus and an opportunity to play professional ball immediately.

The June 22, 1957 New York Times reported the signing of the "infielder-outfielder from Hartford, Conn." He would report to the Class D NY-Penn League Erie (PA) Sailors, one of nine Detroit farm teams in 1957. "I flew from Bradley Field in Hartford to Erie," McAuliffe remembers. "I go to the ballpark... and the team had just left to go on the road to Jamestown, which was a couple hour bus ride, but they would return that evening." The cab driver took him downtown to the general manager's office. The G.M. told Dick to go across the street and check into the team hotel, and come back for dinner. "I had my only suit and tie on, thinking he's going to take me out to a fancy restaurant," Dick says. "I get there, and he takes me to the corner drugstore and buys me a 69-cent macaroni and cheese dinner! And then we drive over to Jamestown... we watched the ballgame and the first thing that came to my mind after I watched... was yes, I can handle this." The 18-year-old played 60 games, mostly at shortstop, had 175 AB, 36 hits, 9 doubles, 16 RBI, and a .206 batting average. "Don't they throw curves in Unionville, sonny?" He was asked. Charles Kress was the Erie manager, and the team led the league in attendance with a total of 54,923. The Sailors won the Eastern League championship, beating the Batavia Indians three games to one.

"My first year in pro ball, the velocity that the pitchers threw compared to high school was a lot more," lefty McAuliffe remembers. "I was hitting everything to left field. I wasn't getting around on pitches." Tigers hitting instructor Wayne Blackburn had a fix. "They were flooding me to the left side, and it was difficult, there weren't any holes out there to get hits," Dick says. "So [Wayne] got me to open up, get my hip out of the way, and pretty much develop the stance that I had, and I was pretty successful with it. I stayed with it that whole spring training and after six or seven weeks of spring training I got familiar with it, and I was hitting the ball to right field, left field, and up the middle... by the time I left spring training I was very comfortable with it." Many compared the new McAuliffe "foot in the bucket" stance to that of Mel Ott, the former New York Giants star. Bill James, who ranked McAuliffe 22nd all-time among second baseman in his Historical Baseball Abstract, described it this way:

"[H]e tucked his right wrist under his chin and held his bat over his head, so it looked as if he were dodging the sword of Damocles in mid-descent. He pointed his left knee at the catcher and his right knee at the pitcher and spread the two as far apart as humanly possible, his right foot balanced on the toes, so that to have lowered his heel two inches would have pulled his knee inward by a foot. He whipped the bat in a sort of violent pinwheel which produced line drives, strikeouts, and fly balls, few ground balls, and not a lot of pop outs." 

It was back to Class D and the Valdosta franchise in the Georgia-Florida League in 1958. The 5'11" shortstop made the All-Star team, hitting .286 with 17 doubles, 5 triples, 8 home runs, and 62 RBI. "I just started progressing," Dick says. "Started hitting for average, hitting with power. Making less mental mistakes and physical mistakes." His fielding left much to be desired, as he tallied 45 errors in 93 games. Valdosta, under manager Stubby Overmire, won the league title over Albany in the playoffs. McAuliffe wasn't around for the postseason, however, having been sent to the Class A Augusta Tigers in the South Atlantic League for the end of the 1958 season. The 19-year-old played 41 games with Augusta, hitting .241 with no home runs and 13 RBI. The Tigers finished the season in first place, but lost in the first round of the Sally League playoffs to the eventual champion Macon Dodgers.

1959 began for McAuliffe with the Durham Bulls of the Class B Carolina League. He was again an All-Star shortstop, despite 35 errors in 94 games at Durham. (The All-Star second baseman and league MVP from the pennant-winning Raleigh Capitals was Carl Yastrzemski -- who would become McAuliffe's teammate 15 years later.) Dick hit .267 for the Bulls, driving in 43 runs on 84 hits, 20 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 home runs. He finished up the '59 season back in the Sally League with the Class A Knoxville Smokies, managed by former Red Sox great Johnny Pesky. "I liked Johnny, his brand of baseball," Dick says. "He was a tough man to play for. You know, a real red-ass." He played only 11 games for Pesky that year, getting four hits in 26 at-bats for a .154 average.

Back to Knoxville in 1960, this time under manager Frank Skaff. Dick was again an All-Star, backing up starter Chico Ruiz. McAuliffe's 109 runs scored led the league. He batted .301, hit 27 doubles, a career-best 21 triples, 7 homers, and drove in 54 runs. It was a season that earned him a promotion to the big club at the end of the year. On September 15, 1960, the Tigers purchased the contract of the 20-year-old shortstop from the Smokies.

The 1960 Detroit Tigers were on their way to a 71-83 record, good for a sixth-place finish in the American League, 26 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees. Rocky Colavito slugged 35 HRs for Detroit. Al Kaline was fourth in the league in stolen bases with 19. Jim Bunning led the league in strikeouts with 201 and had a 2.79 ERA. Frank Lary topped the junior circuit in complete games with 15. McAuliffe remembers his first major league appearance:

"[It] was in Detroit, in a game that I pinch-hit for the pitcher, and we were way behind. [The pitcher] walked me on four straight pitches, and there was one out at the time, and we were behind by a lot of runs, and [had] no chance of winning the ballgame. So I get on first base, and there's one out, and all I want to do is don't make any mistakes out on the base paths. So Coot Veal got up, and hits a real soft line drive to shortstop, and I don't know what made me do it -- I guess the excitement that I was in the big leagues and all the people there and everything combined -- and I just broke for second base... and I got doubled off first base. So it wasn't a very good impression." 

His first official at-bat also came against the Indians. "Jim Perry was pitching for Cleveland, in Cleveland, and the first three times up I got a single, a triple, and a single," McAuliffe remembers. "And then [Dick Stigman] came in, and [he] was just throwing balloons up there, and he threw one down the middle of the plate and I popped it up. And that was my first big-league out." (McAuliffe would even the score with Stigman in 1961, hitting his first major league home run off the Indian hurler on June 23rd at Cleveland Stadium.) McAuliffe's defense was still a work in progress in 1960 -- in seven games at shortstop, Dick committed five errors.

At the end of the season, manager Joe Gordon wanted his young shortstop to come to California. "[He] wanted to take me to Sacramento, where he lived," says McAuliffe. "He wanted to tutor me while I was out there, and he would get me a job at one of the big factories... they have great baseball, semi-pro baseball out there. He wanted me to hook up with one of the teams and play, get in shape... while I was out there. And at the end of the season they fired Joe Gordon, so I never did get to go." Bob Scheffing would be brought in for the 1961 season. "The best manager I played for was... Joe Gordon." Dick recalls. "He was tough, he was fair. He treated the player... like a man."

McAuliffe stared 1961 in the rarefied air of Colorado, playing for manager Charlie Metro and the Triple-A Denver Bears. After 64 games with Denver, the 22-year-old shortstop was hitting .353, with 95 hits, 14 doubles, 14 triples, 5 home runs, and 31 RBIs. He made 24 errors, but his hitting earned him a call to the Motor City. Joining the team for a game against the Washington Senators on June 22, 1961, shortstop Dick McAuliffe was a Tiger to stay. In July, there was some concern that President Kennedy would expand the military draft -- leaving the 21-year-old McAuliffe vulnerable. Fortunately, it didn't come to pass. (He finished a six-month stint in the Air Force prior to spring training in 1962.) The 1961 Tigers had an excellent campaign, posting a 101-61 record. Norm Cash led the league in hitting, and Al Kaline led in doubles. Frank Lary's 22 complete games topped the A.L. as he went 23-9 for the year. But this was 1961, and the New York Yankees were a dominant 109-53. McAuliffe played 55 games at short and 22 at third in '61, spelling regulars Chico Fernandez and Steve Boros.

Dick added a wife and second base to his repertoire in 1962. He married JoAnne Lee Cromack on March 3. Dick played 71 games at second, 49 at third, and 16 at short. He committed 30 errors, but more than made up for them with his bat -- hitting 20 doubles, 12 home runs, 63 RBI, and compiling a .263 average hitting predominantly sixth and seventh in the order. He had his first career four-hit game against the Red Sox at Tiger Stadium on May 11th. His first child, Mary Elizabeth, was born in the off-season.

The Tigers regular shortstop in the early 1960's was journeyman Chico Fernandez, a native of Havana, Cuba. They had no other shortstops in their system capable of replacing him. With his average hovering at .143 in early May of 1963, it was time for the Tigers to make a change. Fernandez was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for Lou Johnson (who would never play for Detroit) and cash. McAuliffe took over as the regular shortstop, starting 133 games there and committing 22 errors. The '63 Tigers finished sixth in the American League, 25 ½ games behind the Yankees.

1964 was a breakout season for McAuliffe. He played in 162 games, all of them at shortstop. His career-high 32 errors were tied for third most in baseball. But his offensive output - for a 1960's shortstop -- was remarkable. The 25-year-old led the Tigers and set a team record for shortstops with 24 home runs. His 77 walks were good for ninth in the American League. He drove in 66 runs batting mostly in the bottom third of the order. The '64 Tigers had a decent season, finishing 85-77, good for fourth in the A.L., 14 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees.

In 1965, Dick became an All-Star. Voted the American League starter at short, he led off the bottom of the first against N.L. starter Juan Marichal at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis. He popped out to shortstop Maury Wills in foul territory. Jim Maloney came in for the Nationals in the fourth, and McAuliffe singled and later scored on a Rocky Colavito hit. Cincinnati Red Jim Maloney was still in the game in the fifth, and Dick faced him again. "He threw me a high fastball, and in fact it was a funny thing, because Bill Freehan, our catcher was out in the bullpen," McAuliffe remembered. "And Bill was talking to one of the catchers in the N.L., and he was saying, "How the hell does a guy like McAuliffe hit with that type of stance?' And no sooner was it out of his mouth than I hit the ball over his head... [a]nd Freehan just turned to him and said, 'Just like that!'" The National League went on to win the game 6-5. "I played in three All-Star games," says Dick. "And... we lost by one run each and every time. The theory of the A.L. was the starters who were voted in to start the game were probably the best players of that given year. The NL, the same thing, except that the A.L. would always play everybody that's on the squad. The NL always played their starters, and maybe substituted a couple of guys, but they were always out to really win the ballgame, more so than the A.L."

McAuliffe's numbers fell off a bit in '65, due in part to a broken hand that limited him to 113 games. Still, he hit .260, slugged 15 home runs, and drove in 54. He began a transition into the leadoff spot that year, batting first in 48 games. "I was the type of guy who had a pretty good eye at the plate and got a fair amount of walks," McAuliffe says of his leadoff hitting. "My on-base percentage was always good, so therefore if I'm on base quite often it gives a chance for the number two, three and four hitters to drive me in." He hit quite a few leadoff home runs in his time as well. "I think it's great for a ball club," Dick says. "Because if you have the power to hit the ball out of the ballpark before the other team comes up... that's a plus. Not that I'd do it that often... but it is a big plus and it gives an incentive to the rest of the [team,] especially the starting pitcher that day... it gives him a little incentive that before he goes to the mound he's going to be ahead one to nothing at least." Nineteen times in his career Dick gave his pitcher a leadoff home run.

Dick and JoAnne's second child, John Michael, was born in February, 1966. That season, illness and injury again affected Dick. He was limited to 124 games, but made only 17 errors at short. He spent some time at third base, and was again voted the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. He went hitless, and struck out against Juan Marichal. His season was outstanding, as he connected for 23 home runs, drove in 56, and brought his average up to a career-best .274.

By 1966, it was clear to the Tigers that second baseman Jerry Lumpe was near the end of the line. The starter at the keystone since 1964, the Missouri native's batting average had declined every year since 1963, and his career-high in home runs (10) had come in 1962. To solve the problem, for the 1967 season Detroit moved their All-Star shortstop to second, and installed defensive whiz Ray Oyler at short. "The Tigers had no illusions about Oyler's lack of ability with the bat," says Brad Smith in his article "A History of Detroit Tigers Shortstops". "[T]hanks to McAuliffe's injuries, he had batted 400 times over the course of the 1965-66 seasons, hitting .178."

1967's All-Star starters were chosen by the players, and Rod Carew was tapped to start at second. Dick came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh. He flied to right in the eighth, again in the 11thand once again in the 14th inning -- his final career All-Star at-bat. And yes, the A.L. lost by one run, 2-1 on a Tony Perez home run in the top of the 14th.

Dick had another fine offensive year in 1967, hitting in the top third of the order. Twenty-three home runs, a career-high 105 walks, and 65 RBI helped the Tigers to a 91-71 record and an epic battle down to the final out of the season with the "Impossible Dream" Boston Red Sox. In fact, it was McAuliffe's 4-6-3 double play grounder in Detroit, against the California Angels in the season's finale, that kicked off a pennant celebration in Boston. It was only the second GIDP for McAuliffe that season, both in the last five games. He would set a major league record the next season when he didn't ground into a double play all season. "I wasn't quick... I wasn't fast," Dick told interviewer Peter Zanardi in the early 1990's. "I could get down to first base, being left-handed and had a quick start at home plate. But one thing that helped me... was leading off so many times with nobody on base."

The 1968 Detroit Tigers ran away with the American League, finishing 103-59, 12 games ahead of runner-up Cleveland. "[We were] absolutely phenomenal for that particular year," McAuliffe remembers. "I mean, when you think a guy like Denny McLain won 31 ballgames... but it was more than that. We averaged five plus runs for Denny throughout that year. Mickey Lolich was a great pitcher for our team, won [17] ballgames, but the key factor I think is that everybody contributed at the right time. I'd have to say that 1968 was the highlight of my life."

Al Kaline was in the outfield, "The best right fielder you'd ever want to see," Dick says. "Never [made] a mistake in the outfield, never drop a ball, always throw to the right base. Quick release, not only a strong arm, but very accurate." Norm Cash was "the comic of our ball club," says McAuliffe, and "Stormin' Norman" slugged 25 home runs. Big Willie Horton led the team with 36, and outfielder Jim Northrup drove in 90 runs. Bill Freehan was "a good catcher, excellent with knowing how to pitch teams," recalls McAuliffe. "[A] good, solid man behind the plate. Knew how to call a ballgame, knew the pitchers that he had [.]"

When asked about manager Mayo Smith, Dick says "I don't call him a great manager, but... I think the biggest plus that he asserted to the club was that... he would have everybody moving on the bases. No matter who was on base. If a guy was on first and second and the count was 3-1 or 3-2, you'd be running. We were so successful with it that it was unbelievable. We'd stay out of double plays, we'd put the bat on the ball, we got base hits, and it really created a spark."

Some sparks flew at Tiger Stadium with the Chicago White Sox in town on the night of August 22, 1968. "[Al Lopez] was managing the White Sox," McAuliffe remembers. "And they were not that far out of the race at the time. I was sort of the spark plug of the Tigers... scoring a lot of runs and playing good defense." Mickey Lolich was on the mound for Motown, Tommy John started for the Sox. McAuliffe played second, and led off the bottom of the first with a single. He scored on a Willie Horton single. "So [they must have] felt, if they were minus me, maybe John could hit me in the kneecap and I'd be out for two or three weeks, and they could catch up," Dick speculated.

The Tigers still led 1-0 when McAuliffe came up with one out in the bottom of the third. He remembers what happened next this way:

"[T]he first pitch at me was right at my head, and I mean right at my head. The catcher never laid any leather on it, and it hit the backstop. And I didn't think too much of it... Tommy John has got some of the best control you'll ever see, and he's a lowball, sinker-slider type of pitcher with great control [and] not a great deal of velocity, but he was throwing the ball hard at me that day. So he threw... the next pitch, he spun me down, threw it behind me. And I turned around to the umpire, Al Salerno, and I said, "Boy, if that thing hit me it would really put me away.' Al didn't say anything... and I've got a glare in my eye then but I didn't say anything. The count worked to 3-2, so I dug in, and there's no way that John is going to throw at me again. The next pitch... it hit the backstop again. And now I'm mad. But not mad enough to go out and charge him. So I take about two steps, and I'm glaring out at the mound at him... and he starts popping off at me [saying] 'What the hell are you looking at you... ' or something like that. And all I saw were stars after that, and I just rushed out at him, and both benches emptied." 

John remembers the incident differently. "I was 10-5 with a 1.98 ERA and pitching against the Tigers in August. A 3-2 pitch slipped out of my hand and sailed over Dick McAuliffe's head. I didn't throw at him, but McAuliffe was yelling at me as he went to first, and he charged the mound. McAuliffe drove his knee into my left shoulder and separated it." John was out for the year; McAuliffe was suspended for five games and fined $250 by league president Joe Cronin. "John hit us four times in Chicago in June," said manager Smith. "They hit eight of our guys in the series there and we didn't hit any of theirs." Tigers G.M. Jim Campbell said "Cronin used bad judgment."

There was only one HBP in that entire four game series and it was when the Tigers Pat Dobson hit Pete Ward. The John game was the last game of the series. So, it was not 8-0, but actually 0-1! John did hit four Tigers in a game on 6/15, though he pitched against them again on June 30 and pitched a five-hit shutout with no HBPs.

McAuliffe had another sterling season in 1968. Most significantly, he reduced his error total from 28 in 1967 to nine in 1968. (He was shocked that he didn't win the Gold Glove that year -- Bobby Knoop, who made 15 errors, did. McAuliffe hit 24 doubles, 10 triples, and 16 home runs, drove in 56 runs, and hit .249. His 95 runs scored led the American League. Dick would play in his first World Series, against the St. Louis Cardinals. His offensive stats weren't impressive, but he didn't commit an error in the seven-game Tigers Series win. And he added a home run in a losing effort in Game Three against the Cards' Ray Washburn. "It was a high fastball." Dick remembers.

A knee injury and subsequent surgery derailed the 1969 season, limiting the 29-year-old McAuliffe to 74 games. He still managed 11 homers and 33 RBI. He matched 1968's error total with nine. He would play four more years with Detroit, never reaching the heights of the 1960's. By 1973, he was a platoon player, sharing time at second with Cuban journeyman Tony Taylor. On July 15, 1973, the Tigers hosted Nolan Ryan and the California Angels. "Ryan was tough," McAuliffe says. "You couldn't dig in against him back then as you could [later in his career.] That [day] was the best stuff I've seen from a pitcher in my whole career." So good that Ryan fanned Dick three times in three at-bats. Not that the rest of the Tigers fared better -- Ryan threw his second no-hitter of the season that day.

Dick made one more postseason appearance, back at short for four games and second for one in the 1972 ALCS. He hit only .200 for the series, but hit a big home run off Catfish Hunter in Detroit's Game Four win. The A's would go on to win the series in Game Five.

Dick had a decent season for the Tigers in 1973, playing in 106 games, hitting .274, and hitting 18 homers. But at age 34, he knew the end was near. "I wanted to move back East, I told them I wasn't coming back," McAuliffe says. "I wasn't pressuring [the Tigers] into trading me to Boston, but I knew my career was near the end, and I wanted to maybe make a connection and get into business of some sort, and Detroit obliged me."

On October 23, 1973, the Red Sox announced that they had acquired the veteran infielder for young outfielder Ben Oglivie. According to an article about Oglivie in the Dec. 13, 1975 Sporting News, Oglivie was the "only body Boston was willing to give up to get [McAuliffe.]" Manager Darrell Johnson expected Dick to challenge Doug Griffin for the second base job at best, and at worst, back up Rico Petrocelli at third. McAuliffe would wear number 3 for Boston, a number worn by another Connecticut-born player -- Moosup's Walt Dropo -- from 1949-1952. Dick was excited about playing at Fenway. "[It's] a great stadium to play in because the fans are close to you. Just has that aroma in the air." As for the Boston fans, "[they] are very, very critical, very tough," McAuliffe said. "But they know the game. They really do."

Things didn't work out exactly as manager Johnson had planned. McAuliffe played a utility role in 1974, playing 53 games at second, 40 at third, three at short, and three as the Bosox designated hitter. He batted only 272 times, and hit .210 with 5 home runs. It was clear that at age 34, the end had come. Dick retired at the end of the season, and accepted the Red Sox offer to manage in their minor league system.

Muzzy Field in Bristol, Connecticut was a 20-minute commute from McAuliffe's home in Simsbury, and home to the Double-A Eastern League Bristol Red Sox. In 1975, Dick would manage the B-Sox. Bristol went 81-57 on the year, behind young hitting star Butch Hobson. They swept the Reading Phillies 3-0 to capture the Eastern League championship. McAuliffe wasn't around to taste the champagne, however.

In August, Red Sox third baseman Rico Petrocelli was suffering from headaches, inner ear trouble, and vertigo, possibly the result of a 1974 beaning. The 32-year-old Petrocelli left the Sox in Chicago on August 17th, at the time hitting .254, with four home runs and 44 RBI. Some wondered if his career, much less the 1975 season, were over. "I just don't see certain pitches well at all," Petrocelli told The Sporting News. Rico was placed on the disabled list, Bob Heise was installed as the regular third baseman, and Dick McAuliffe was pulled from his managerial job in Bristol. "I'm in good shape," McAuliffe told Peter Gammons of The Sporting News. "I'm seven pounds lighter than I was. I've been throwing in batting practice every day so my arm's strong, my legs are in good condition, and I've been hitting off and on."

When Petrocelli went down, the Sox inquired about the readiness of Butch Hobson. "Butch had a pretty good bat for me all year long," McAuliffe said. "But in the field he'd make an awful lot of mistakes. Especially throwing mistakes. And I didn't think he was ready right then. [A]nd they asked, 'would you be interested in coming up?'" There were about six weeks left in the season, and the Sox had a big lead in the A.L. East. "I really didn't think about it, and I said, 'Well, yeah, I would be.' Six weeks or so, you know, it's not long." But the veteran hadn't been completely honest with the parent club or the press. "[T]he only bad thing about it was I wasn't in shape," Dick said some 15 years later. "I hadn't picked up a bat all year. I threw batting practice - that was the only thing that was in shape was my arm."

McAuliffe played in seven games, all at third base, making his first appearance as a defensive replacement on August 23. He batted 15 times, with only two singles. His batting average was .133. His career ended on a sour note on September 1. The Red Sox were hosting the rival Yankees, and the 36-year-old McAuliffe started the game at third, batting eighth. With one out in the second, Yankee DH Walt Williams hit a pop-up between third and home. McAuliffe dropped the ball for an error. With one run in, Bomber shortstop Fred Stanley tapped a ball to third, and McAuliffe's throw pulled fist baseman Carl Yastrzemski off the bag. It was scored a single, and another run came in. Dick drove in his only run of the season in the contest, but the Sox lost the game 4-2, and Dick McAuliffe's major league career was over. "I never, ever remember being booed in the big leagues," Dick remembers. "But that one game everything stood out, and the fans in Boston were tough. And I really felt bad after that and that was the only time after making an error that I felt really bad about losing a ballgame. And I said, 'Well, I guess I am over the hill.'" The Red Sox obviously agreed -- McAuliffe was left off the postseason roster. In the classic 1975 World Series, Rico Petrocelli was back at third base.

The Sox wanted McAuliffe to manage in their system in 1976, but Dick had had enough. "You know, the salary wasn't very... big," McAuliffe says. "I enjoyed doing what I did, but it was tough being on the road once again after 20 years of playing [baseball.] Leaving your family... and I said that's enough." Would he have changed anything in his career? "I think the only mistake I made was I should have stayed back in Detroit, where I felt more comfortable, and finished up there," Dick said. [T]hey would have given me a job in the minor leagues either as a hitting instructor -- or in the big leagues -- or managing in the minor leagues, which would have been fine. And gave me a decent salary."

McAuliffe went into the private sector, running a couple of baseball schools and teaching kids how to play the game. "If you've got the desire, you don't need to have superstar skills," Dick told author Chris Stern in 1979. Shortly after retiring, he bought a business that repaired and installed coin-operated washers and driers. "I did quite well with it," Said McAuliffe. "I was in the laundry business over 10 years... and then got tired of doing it." He sold the business after 10 years, and is now semi-retired, playing golf, appearing occasionally at minor league games, and at autograph tables at county fairs and card shows.

"The game was very important to me," McAuliffe says. "I took it to heart. I played as hard as I could. I always thought I gave 100 percent, and was proud of the feats I'd done. I thought overall... I should have done better. That's just my personal feeling. I think I've been successful."


A version of this biography was originally published in '75: The Red Sox Team That Saved Baseball, edited by Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, and published by Rounder Books in 2005.


Dick declined to be interviewed for this project, and this biography would have been far less illuminating without the wonderful interview Connecticut sports journalist Peter Zanardi did with Mr. McAuliffe in the early 90's. Thanks to the SABR oral history committee for making it available. Thanks also to fellow SABR members David Paulson, Ed Washuta, David Vincent, and Bill Dunstone.


Newspapers & Magazines

Chass, Murray, "Yanks Use Munson at 3d and Win," New York Times, Sep. 2, 1975 p.39

Doyle, Al, "Tommy John: The Game I'll Never Forget," Baseball Digest, May 2004

Gammons, Peter, "McAuliffe Back as Bosox Lose Rico," The Sporting News, Sep. 6, 1975.

Green, Jerry, "Time Hasn't Taken Fight out of Tigers Franchise," Detroit News, Aug. 20, 2001.

Hawkins, Jim, "Tigers Tabbing Oglivie as a Regular," The Sporting News, Dec. 13, 1975, p.50.

"Majors Fear Loss of Players From a Possible Military Draft," New York Times, Jul 23, 1961, p.S2

Murray, Jim. "Sticks to Riches," Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1965 p.B1

O'Gara, Roger, "Eastern's Openers Hit Fouls in Bad Weather," The Sporting News, 1975

"Ryan Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter of Year," New York Times, Jul. 16, 1973, p.37

Spoelstra, Watson, "Kaline Marks 27th Birthday," The Sporting News, Jan. 3, 1962.

"Tigers Buy McAuliffe," New York Times, Sept. 16, 1960, p.C2

"Tigers Sign Two Schoolboys," New York Times, Jun. 22, 1957

Zanardi, Peter, "An Interview With Dick McAuliffe," Oldtyme Baseball News, Volume 5, Issue 2, 1993 


Detroit Tigers 1969 Press Guide

Detroit Tigers 1972 Yearbook

James, Bill, The New Bill James Historical Abstract, Free Press, 2001, p.497-8

Johnson, Lloyd and Wolff, Miles, Eds. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd ed., Baseball America, 1997

SABR Home Run Encyclopedia, McConnell, Bob and Vincent, David, eds. McMillan, 1996

Stern, Chris, Where Have They Gone? , Tempo Books, 1979, p.118

Web Pages

Smith, Brad, "A History of Detroit Tigers Shortstops,", January 27, 1999.


Zanardi, Peter, Oral History Interview with Dick McAuliffe (cassette tape), 1990 or 1991

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