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Mickey Lolich (sitting) and Tom Gage (standing)

Mickey Lolich was a Major League pitcher for 16 seasons, 13 of them with the Detroit Tigers. He is best known for his performance in the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals when he earned three complete-game victories, including a win over Bob Gibson in the climactic Game 7. Tom Gage worked for The Detroit News for 39 years, including 35 years as the Detroit Tigers beat writer until retiring in 2015. Gage was awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 2015.

At the Senior Men’s club luncheon on October 23rd,  Lolich and Gage discussed their new book:  Joy in Tigertown: A Determined Team, a Resilient City, and our Magical Run to the 1968 World Series. Tom started the discussion by explaining why he got involved with this book and why he feels that Mickey belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he provided supporting statistics. For example, Mickey’s 207 Tigers’ wins were the most since 1925, and his 376 innings pitched in 1971 were the second highest since 1917 and ½ inning behind the first place pitcher who was a knuckle-baller. Between 1965 and 1974, he had 2245 strikeouts, the most in the Majors, he had 172 wins, the most in the American League, and 155 complete games, also the most in the AL. Of the nine pitchers in MLB history that could say that they were in the top 20 in strikeouts, threw more than 190 complete games, more than 40 shutouts, pitched more than 495 games and won more than 215, only Mickey is not in the Hall of Fame. The others did not do it in only 16 seasons, were not World Series MVP, and did not have 3 complete game victories in a World Series.

Mickey then took questions and reminisced about his life and career. He talked about growing up in a Croatian community in Portland, Oregon. He knew nothing about baseball until he was 11, but he learned to throw by throwing figs from his grandfather’s back yard. When asked about his World Series home run, he remembered that given his miniscule batting average, in his first at-bat in game 2, he was going to swing at the first white thing that flew by. The opposing pitcher was so good that he hit Mickey’s bat dead center. Mickey assumed he had flied out until the first base coach told him to keep running when he got to first. It was his only home run in his professional career. Mickey had many more memories to relate, but to get them all you will have to buy the book:

Reported by David Morrow

Come to our next meeting on November 13th and hear Robin Ferriby discuss the “Grand Bargain” and other interesting aspects of his career.

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