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)

JasonThompson.jpg
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.

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Today’s Tiger: Richie Hebner

Richie Hebner

  • Born: Nov. 26, 1947 in Boston
  • Acquired: Traded by the Mets to the Tigers for Phil Mankowski and Jerry Morales on Oct. 31, 1979.
  • Seasons in Detroit: Parts of three seasons (1980-82)
  • Uniform Number: 2
  • Stats: .267 avg., 25 HR, 128 RBI, .769 OPS

Richie Hebner didn’t swing at the baseball as much as he chopped at it. That hacker’s cut was, the Tigers thought, an ideal fit for Tiger Stadium’s right field porch. It also served him well in the offseason when he dug graves in the Boston area.

According to the Associated Press story on the trade that brought Hebner to Detroit in October 1979, the Detroit acquired him for his punch:

“We’re really pleased to get somebody like Richie,” a Tigers spokesman said. “He’ll give us some power hitting we need.”

Power? Richie Hebner?

He came from the Mets where in 1979, his only season in New York, he hit just 10 homers. Keep in mind, no matter what Hebner did offensively in 1980, he’d be an upgrade over the featherweight hitting of Aurelio Rodriguez who hit only five homers in ’79. But by June of the 1980 season, Hebner was playing mostly at first base, replacing a true power hitter, Jason Thompson who was inexplicably traded to the Angels in May.

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Martinez Official, But More to Come … Right?

Martinez.jpgDespite what some national guys are saying about the Victor Martinez signing, I think it’s outstanding.

Is it Jayson Werth or Adam Dunn? No. But signing Martinez to hit behind — or maybe in front of — Miguel Cabrera makes the Tigers’ lineup more formidable — especially when Martinez is in the lineup in place of Alex Avila.

As Jayson Stark writes this morning, the prevailing wisdom is that Dave Dombrowski isn’t done.

So even after making four significant signings, the Tigers clearly aren’t done.

They’re not finished with their bullpen. And they’re still prowling for a big right-handed, corner-outfield bat. They could be players for Jayson Werth. They could bring back Magglio Ordonez. They could have a surprise in store. But they have the dollars to make almost anything possible.

But is that it? It’s certainly impressive the amount of business the Tigers have accomplished. Yet even with all the activity the Tigers have had this month, I still think it will make the Winter Meetings next month even more intriguing — and worth watching.

There has to be a trade of some sort in the offing, right? If they miss out on Werth, do they make a deal for a slugger? Do they go after Hanley Ramirez and shift Jhonny Peralta to second? Purely speculation, of course, but I just can’t see the Tigers going to the Winter Meetings and not be open for some degree of business.

What do you think?

Here’s the Boston Globe’s story on Martinez’s conference call today announcing the deal.

In unrelated news, Happy 63rd Birthday to one of my favorite all-time Tigers, Richie Hebner. Today’s also the birthday of Mike Moore, brilliant with the A’s, dreadful for the Tigers from 1993-95. He’s 51.

Have a great weekend.

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.

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Happy Birthday, Jerry Morales

JerryMoralesHappy 61st to Julio Ruben (Torres) Morales, the light-hitting, basket-catch-making rightfielder of the 1979 Tigers.

Wearing number 27, he hit a wispy .211 in his only season in Detroit with 14 home runs and 23 doubles — just one fewer than Magglio Ordonez hit last year.

He wasn’t a total loss for the Tigers though. He came to Detroit along with Aurelio Lopez and was traded (with Phil Mankowski) to the Mets for one my all-time favorites, Richie Hebner.

Most of his success came with the Cubs. In seven seasons he batted .275 with 59 homers … for some really bad teams.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Julio!

The Curious Case of June 2, 1980: Tigers and Mariners Play to a Tie

OldTimeWriterXSmall.jpgIn case you were wondering, here’s how the Tigers have fared against the Mariners since Seattle joined the American League in 1977:

  • All-Time Record: 185-152-1
  • All-Time at Home: 104-64-1
  • All-Time at Comerica Park: 22-18
  • All-Time at Seattle: 81-88

Wait a second. The Tigers and Mariners played to a tie? In the 20th century?

This little item sent me scrambling to my favorite site, Baseball-Reference.com, for the details. Here’s what I found:

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Happy Birthday, John Pacella

Pacella_JohnI’ll admit that while I remember John Pacella‘s cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1986 (11 innings pitched), I didn’t know much about him. But today I learned a lot about him, including:

  1. Today is Pacella’s 52nd birthday.
  2. The Brooklyn-born right-hander made his major-league debut on this date in 1977 — his 21st birthday — for his hometown Mets against the Phillies at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

Pacella entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, relieving Rick Baldwin, and got the first hitter, Greg Luzinski, to line out to center. Next, Richie Hebner popped out to third. Garry Maddox doubled to right before Bob Boone popped out to Mets catcher John Stearns.

In his two innings of work, Pacella allowed a pair each of hits, walks and unearned runs. The loss went to Mets starter Craig Swan who allowed five walks in one inning of work.

All told, he pitched just four innings in 1977, didn’t pitch for the Mets in ’78, but returned in ’79 for 16 innings. In 1980, Pacella appeared in 32 games, 15 of them starts, and earned a 3-4 record.

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