Today’s Tiger: Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson

  • Born: July 6, 1954 in Hollywood, Calif.
  • Bats: Left Throws: Left
  • Height: 6′ 4″ Weight: 200 lb.
  • Acquired: Drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 1975 amateur draft.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 5 (1976-80)
  • Uniform Number: 30
  • Stats: .256 avg., 98 HR, 354 RBI, .779 OPS
  • Awards: Three-time All Star (1977, ’78 and ’82)

On May 27, 1980, Tigers GM Jim Campbell traded my favorite player, first baseman Jason Thompson, to the California Angels for outfielder Al Cowens.

The Hollywood native joined the Tigers full time in 1976 and played 123 games that year, hitting .218, with 17 home runs and 54 RBI. Two of the homers cleared the rightfield roof at Tiger Stadium. It was in 1977, though, that he made his mark: .270, 31 homers and 105 RBI — and earned an All Star Game selection.

Continue reading Today’s Tiger: Jason Thompson

Tigers Today: July 14, 2010

BallGrassXSmall.jpgTigers’ Record:

48-38, 2nd place; 1/2-game behind White Sox

Today’s Game

All-Star Break

Yesterday’s Results

National League 3 – American League 1

Continue reading Tigers Today: July 14, 2010

Fungo Flashback: May 27, 1980: The Day the Tigers Traded Jason Thompson

Thirty years ago today the Tigers traded my favorite player, Jason Thompson, to the Angels for Al Cowens. Here’s a piece I wrote two years ago about the deal. Get a load of my thoughts on Miguel Cabrera who had recently been moved to first base. Another gleaming example of why I’m not fit to be a GM.

JasonThompson.jpgTwenty-eight years ago today, Tigers GM Jim Campbell broke my heart.

On May 27, 1980, he traded my favorite Tigers player, first baseman Jason Thompson, to the California Angels for outfielder Al Cowens. (For more on Cowens, check out this post from the archives.)

The Hollywood native joined the Tigers full time in 1976 and played 123 games that year, hitting .218, with 17 home runs and 54 RBI. Two of the homers cleared the rightfield roof at Tiger Stadium. It was in 1977, though, that he made his mark: .270, 31 homers and 105 RBI — and earned an All Star Game selection.

Continue reading Fungo Flashback: May 27, 1980: The Day the Tigers Traded Jason Thompson

Tigers Today: May 18, 2010


Tigers’ Record: 22-16, 2nd place; 2 GB Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. White Sox | 1:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 & 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Rick Porcello (3-3, 6.08 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (2-2, 4.75 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Rain Out

Tigers History Lesson

On this Date in Tigers History

  • 1912 — The Tigers use a team of replacement players against the Philadelphia A’s. With 19 players on strike in protest of the recent suspension of Ty Cobb, manager Hughie Jennings recruits college players and a number of local semipro players to avoid a forfeit and fine. Detroit loses to the Athletics, 24-2, as pitcher Al Travers gives up all 24 runs on 26 hits.
  • 1946 — The Tigers acquired third baseman George Kell from the Philadelphia Athletics for outfielder Barney McCosky.
  • 1982Larry Herndon hits three home runs in an 11-9 win over the A’s, and in the process becomes the 14th player in major-league history to hit homers in four-consecutive plate appearances. On May 16, he homered in his final at bat to give the Tigers a 7-6 victory over the Twins.

October Surprise Part 9: Comeback Complete

This is the final installment in our series that looked back on the Tigers’ and Blue Jays’ epic fight for the 1987 American League East title.

American League East Standings: October 4, 1987

Team Record Pct. GB
Detroit 97-64 .619 –
Toronto 96-65 .596 1

BallBatGrass.jpgIn the first six games one thing was constant: the team that scored first would go on to lose. The Blue Jays, with the season in the balance, would take their chances and welcome an early lead off Tigers starter Frank Tanana.

Instead, the Tigers struck first. Larry Herndon led off the Detroit third inning with a home run off Blue Jays starter Jimmy Key. A strong wind gust nudged the ball over Bell’s outstretched glove and into the lower deck in left. The Tigers led 1-0 on Herndon’s first homer since Aug. 18.

“Luckily, I just got enough,” Herndon said to Tommy George of the Free Press. “I saw Bell go back and it looked like he had a chance to catch it. I looked at Bell all the way. And then when I heard and saw the crowd reaction behind the fence, I knew it was out.”

Continue reading October Surprise Part 9: Comeback Complete

October Surprise Part 3: Game 2 Skips Away

As the Tigers and Twins square off for the biggest series of the year with the division title hanging in the balance, we continue our look back on the last great race in Tigers history: 1987 and the seven games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Today: Game 2.

Part 1October Surprise: Tigers and Jays Battle for ’87 Division Title
Part 2Showdown in Toronto, Game 1

American League East Standings

September 25, 1987

Team Record Pct. GB
Toronto 94-59 .614 –
Detroit 92-60 .605 1.5

Tigers left hander Frank Tanana had been in one divisional race in his 14-year career: in 1979 when he helped the California Angels win their first American League West title. In 1987, Tanana approached the twilight of his career but Toronto starter Jimmy Key’s best days were just dawning. Key had won 14 games in each of his first two years as a starter and in 1987 he would finish second in A.L. Cy Young voting, posting a 17-8 record and 2.76 ERA.

For the second straight night, the Tigers produced a two-run lead. In the Tigers’ second, Chet Lemon doubled and Darrell Evans singled him home. Later, in the sixth, Kirk Gibson bunted for a base hit and took second on Key’s wild throw to first. Larry Herndon followed with a single to left scoring Gibson and giving Tanana a two-run cushion.

Tanana pitched one of his best games of the season throwing seven scoreless innings, yielding just five hits and a walk. Key was equally masterful in his 8.1 innings pitched. He scattered nine hits, allowing only one earned run and walking a single hitter. Going into the ninth inning the Tigers maintained a 2-0 lead.

Continue reading October Surprise Part 3: Game 2 Skips Away

October Surprise Part 2: Showdown in Toronto

This is Part 2 in our series on the Tigers and Blue Jays’ pennant fight in 1987. Part 1 appeared yesterday.

American League East Standings

September 24, 1987

Team Record Pct. GB
Toronto 93 – 59 .612 –
Detroit 92-59 .609 .5

At the outset of the first series the Tigers sat only a half-game out of first place. The game-one pitching match up featured two of baseball’s best in the 1980s: the Tigers’ Jack Morris and Jays lefty Mike Flanagan.

ViewFromOutfieldXSmall.jpgIt didn’t take long for the complexion of the game, the series and perhaps the season to change dramatically. In the top of the third, with Bill Madlock on first, Kirk Gibson hit a routine double-play ball to second baseman Nelson Liriano. Liriano pivoted and threw to shortstop Tony Fernandez for the force at second; Madlock’s slide toppled Fernandez who fell to the artificial surface, breaking his elbow. (Shortly after Fernandez left the game the Blue Jays announced that he would need surgery and would be out for the remainder of the season.) Gibson reached first on the fielder’s choice.

After a Trammell fly out, Larry Herndon singled, moving Gibson to second. The next hitter, centerfielder Chet Lemon, drove in Gibson and advanced Herndon to third. A Flanagan wild pitch scored Herndon and gave Morris a 2-0 lead.

Continue reading October Surprise Part 2: Showdown in Toronto

The Monday Report

We waited and waited and waited for news about the Tigers’ shortstop. And after all that waiting, all we get is who the shortstop won’t be next year? Oy vey. Take heart. There’s more to talk about this week:

Dan Schatzeder
Schatzeder, who turns 54 today, pitched for the Tigers in 1980 and '81.
  • On this date in 1961, the Tigers made the only Dec. 1-trade in their history by trading righthanders Bob Bruce and Manny Montejo to the Houston Colt .45s for righty “Toothpick” Sam Jones. ( claims that on Dec. 1, 1955, the Tigers brought back pitcher Virgil Trucks in a trade with the White Sox for third baseman Bubba Phillips. But the Tigers media guide has the trade taking place on Nov. 30. A tie goes to the team media guide.) Something else you likely didn’t know: This was the only trade between the Tigers and the Colt .45s. Now, the Tigers and the Astros, that’s another tale altogether.
  • With the Baseball Winter Meetings just around the bend, Tigers fans can expect (hope?) for some trade or free-agent activity to come out of Las Vegas. In a recent Daily Fungo Pulse Check, 80 readers responded to the question: If the Tigers could address only ONE position this offseason, which would you choose? Here’s the final tally:
    • Premier closer: 44% (35 votes)
    • Starting shortstop: 39% (31)
    • Starting catcher: 18% (14)

    We certainly haven’t heard much about the closer options — at least compared to what we’ve heard about shortstops — and nothing at all, really, about catchers. Should be a fun month. (Be sure to weigh in on our latest poll, shown in the sidebar –>.)

  • I’d finally given up any hope of Jack Morris being voted into the Hall of Fame and then this appears.

Finally, Happy 54th Birthday to Dan Schatzeder, Jim Campbell‘s long-coveted southpaw starter. Traded from Montreal for Ron LeFlore, Schatzeder spent two unremarkable seasons in Detroit: 17-21 and a 5.04 ERA. On Dec. 9, 1981, he was traded with Mike Chris to the Giants for Larry Herndon. Now that’s a better trade.

On This Date In…

1926Ty Cobb resigned as Tigers manager after leading the team to a 79-75 record and a sixth-place finish. And how’s this for odd? Umpire and former Tigers infielder George Moriarty replaced Cobb. Moriarty is the first man to hold baseball’s four principal jobs: player, umpire, scout and manager. Cobb signed with the Philadelphia Athletics and will bat .357 during the 1927 season.

And in 1953, Larry Darnell Herndon was born in Sunflower, Miss.

Herndon, who came to Detroit in a 1982 trade with the Giants, had a role in two clinching games for the Tigers. Most remember him catching the final out of the World Series in 1984. Three years later, his solo homer was enough for the Tigers to defeat the Blue Jays on the final day of the season and will the American League East title.

He was a member of the 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie Team along with Jason Thompson, Mark Fidrych, Chet Lemon, Garry Templeton and Willie Randolph.

Happy 55th, Hondo.

Talking with Johnny Grubb, Part II

JohnnyGrubb2.jpgThis is the second and final installment of my conversation with former Tigers outfielder and pinch-hitter extraordinaire, Johnny Grubb. You can find the first installment here.

Mike McClary: Heading into the 1984 season, was it a long off-season? It would seem like you would be chomping at the bit to get back on the field shortly after a little break. Was everyone coming into spring training raring to go?

Johnny Grubb: Yeah, I think so. I remember us getting Dave Bergman and Willie [Hernandez]. So they came over, and they fit right in with the team, too. I mean, we just had a good group of guys that got along, and Dave Bergman is a heck of a guy and so was Willie. So it worked out great.

MMc: Let’s talk about the ’84 season in general. Obviously, you got off to a great start, 9-0, and in the middle of that, Jack Morris throws a no-hitter. As you were getting older and becoming the seasoned veteran, were you really just enjoying about every moment of that season?

JG: Oh, gosh, yeah. It was fun to watch those guys play and every once in a while to jump in and do something myself. But it was a lot of fun watching Gibby and Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker and Darrell [Evans] — and Lance did a great job. And Howard Johnson had the great season for us. I thought he did a great job. And Larry Herndon and all those guys really did well in the pitching.

So really what I remember most about it is that I never really felt like we were out of any ballgame. Any lead a team could get, we felt like we could have a big inning and jump right back in the game. And we had real good pitching, so if we had the lead, we had Willie and [Aurelio] Lopez coming in to shut the door on them. The pitchers did their job, and the hitters did their job. And we just felt like we could win any game.

That 35-5 start really helped a lot, too. But I think that pretty much was an indicator of how strong we were because that’s pretty phenomenal when you think about a 35-5 start in the major leagues. That’s pretty good.

Continue reading Talking with Johnny Grubb, Part II