Ferkovich: 1935 Tigers: Missing the Babe leads to home-run hire in Cochrane

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at the Detroit Free Press on September 27, 2015:

For the first time in five years, there will be no playoff baseball in Detroit. But this year marks the 80th anniversary of the Tigers’ first championship — of a team that helped raise spirits amid the Great Depression and led off an era in which Detroit became known as the “City of Champions.” It also is the 70th anniversary of the Tigers’ second championship — of a team that set off another celebration after the end of World War II.

Before there was Mike Ilitch, there was Frank Navin, going after the biggest stars. Before there was Mark Fidrych, there was Schoolboy Rowe, captivating the nation with his pitching and personality. Before there was Kirk Gibson, there was Hank Greenberg, smashing an epic home run. Take a look back at two other times when there was October baseball in Detroit ….

In 1933, after the Detroit Tigers’ fifth losing season in six years, owner Frank Navin zeroed in on the man he wanted as his new manager:

The Sultan of Swat himself, Babe Ruth.

It’s the prologue to the tale of an incredible team that brought the Motor City its first World Series championship, 80 years ago.

At age 38, Ruth was past his prime as a player. But he remained the biggest gate attraction in baseball, and the Tigers had drawn only 320,972 fans, the second-lowest total since the building of Navin Field in 1912.

According to authors like Robert Creamer, Charlie Bevis and Leigh Montville, the Bambino had made no bones about his desire to manage the Yankees one day. But owner Jacob Ruppert didn’t think the carousing home run king had the maturity to be a leader of men. In fact, he wanted to dump his aging star.

Read the full article here: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2015/09/27/detroit-tigers-world-series-babe-ruth/72921784/

Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: September 28, 2015.