The Trade, 25 Years Later

Want to feel old? Try this on for size:

It was a quarter-century ago — March 24, 1984 — that the Tigers acquired relief pitcher Willie Hernandez and first baseman Dave Bergman from the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher John Wockenfuss and outfielder Glenn Wilson.

And the insanity that was the Summer of ’84 began.

In case you’ve forgotten, Hernandez won the American League MVP and Cy Young awards after saving 32 games with an 1.92 ERA and 140.1 innings in 80 pitching appearances.

Good times.

Talking with Johnny Grubb – Part I

GrubbSteaks.jpgYesterday was Johnny Grubb‘s 60th birthday. Yes, 60th. I recently had the pleasure of talking with him while doing research for SABR’s book on the 1984 Tigers. (I’ve written the biographies of both Grubb and outfielder Rusty Kuntz.) We spoke about his entire career and focused a lot, of course, on the ’84 team.

In honor of Johnny Grubb’s birthday, here’s the first of two installments of the discussion. Beginning with the trade that brought him to the Tigers from the Rangers for reliever Dave Tobik.


Mike McClary: What was your mindset coming to Detroit in 1983?

Johnny Grubb: Well, [Rangers manager] Doug Rader called me in his office in spring training when I was with Texas and he told me that they had made a trade.

He used to call me Grubsteaks. He said, ‘Grubsteaks, you’re going to like where you’re going.’ I said, ‘where’s that?’ And he said, ‘Detroit.’

And, of course, if you get traded, that would be a good team to go to because we knew they were strong and getting better each year and right on the verge of being a real, real good ball club. So I was happy to go there.

MMc: Did you know anything about the team in terms of who your new teammates were going to be or Sparky’s reputation?

JG: I knew Sparky’s reputation as a manager from playing against him in the National League. And then, of course, they did have a boy on the team, Mike Ivie, that goes back to when I played minor league ball. He was a teammate of mine, and he was a player with Detroit then. So I was going into a ball club there that at least I knew one guy real well.

Continue reading “Talking with Johnny Grubb – Part I”

The 1984 Hernandez/Bergman Trade Revisited

WillieHernandez.jpgIn case you’d forgotten, it was 24 years ago this week that the Tigers swung a deal with the Phillies that changed the 1984 season for the Tigers dramatically — and instantly.

On March 27, 1984, the Tigers acquired lefty reliever Willie Hernandez and first baseman Dave Bergman from Philadelphia in exchange for OF Glenn Wilson (my favorite Tiger back then) and all-purpose guy John Wockenfuss.

With World Series expectations higher than perhaps ever in Tigers history and the team searching, as it was in 1984, for bullpen reinforcements, let’s look back on a trade for the ages.

Continue reading “The 1984 Hernandez/Bergman Trade Revisited”