To honor the greatest sporting event on the planet, the Fall Classic, we continue our “Looking Back” series, celebrating the San Diego Padres’ 1984 National League pennant-winning season. We open the second part of this series by reviewing the opening salvo of the ’84 Series between the Friars and the dominant American League champions, the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers were led by the likes of Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell, Sweet Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, and Jack Morris. All of them had superb seasons, but none nearly as good as AL Cy Young winner and league MVP, Willie Hernandez, who had 32 saves. The Tigers in 1984, became only the third team in big league history, to lead their division wire-to-wire, winning a franchise-record 104 games that season. Their skipper, Sparky Anderson, headed up the “Big Red Machine” in the 1970s with the Cincinnati Reds. With All-Stars such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, Anderson won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976, before leaving Cincy for Detroit in 1979.
The Padres, led by manager Dick Williams, were heavy underdogs going into the series. Their team leaders in home runs, Graig Nettles and Kevin McReynolds, each only had 20 long balls. McReynolds wouldn’t be available for the Fall Classic, having broken a wrist during the LCS, and being ruled out for the remainder of the season. It would be up to Nettles, LCS MVP Steve Garvey, and NL batting champion Tony Gwynn to carry the offensive load for the Friars. The Padres had come back from a two-games-to-none deficit against the Chicago Cubs, to win their series 3-2 and advance to the championship round.
Game One started off as expected for the Tigers. Against Padres’ starter Mark Thurmond, All-Star second baseman Lou Whitaker doubled off the center field wall, and was brought home by double-play partner and shortstop, Alan Trammell, as the Motor City Bengals took the early 1-0 lead. Unlike the NLCS however, the Padres came roaring back against 19-game winner Jack Morris. In the bottom of the first, Garvey hit a two-out single, followed by a Nettles single. Catcher Terry Kennedy then drove both men home with a two-run double, giving the Friars a 2-1 lead at the end of the first frame.
The score remained the same until the Tigers’ top half of the 5th inning. Kirk Gibson drew a one-out walk, and was then picked off trying to steal second base. It looked like the inning and the momentum were both dead for the Tigers. Not to let the inning die, 33-home run man Lance Parrish ripped a two-out double, and Larry Hearndon followed that up with a long home run, putting the Tigers back up 3-2. The Padres couldn’t answer in their half of the 5th.
Reliable Andy Hawkins relieved Thurmond, whose final line wasn’t all that impressive: 5 innings, 3 earned runs, 7 hits allowed, 2 strikeouts and the big home run allowed. Hawkins while allowing scattered hits, kept the damage to a minimum, having worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relieve. Unfortunately, the Padres bats were non-existent, and Black Jack Morris was more than they could handle. The Friars managed just three more hits–two of which went for extra bases on a Kennedy and Kurt Bevaqua set of doubles, but were unable to push across the tying runs in either instance.
Morris retired the Padres 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the 9th for a complete game victory in Game One. Morris’ final line: 9 innings, the victory, 9 Ks, 2 earned runs on 8 hits. The Tigers were up in the series 1 game to none, and in the process, stole home field advantage away from the Padres. Mark Thurmond did little to give the Padres confidence that they could slow down the Tigers bats, but Andy Hawkins did a remarkable job keeping his team in it. The loss of McReynolds is obvious, as Garvey, Nettles, Gwynn and Kennedy can only do so much.
We will continue our review of the 1984 World Series between the Padres and Tigers tomorrow, as our “Looking Back” series celebrates the 30th anniversary of the San Diego Padres’ first National League pennant. Thanks for following along!