I'm guessing that there will be a fair share of stories in the media about the 1934 World Series and even more about the 1968 World Series. Names you can expect to hear mentioned a lot in the next few days: Dizzy Dean, Joe Medwick, Schoolboy Rowe, Hank Greenberg, Leo Durocher, Mayo Smith, Mickey Stanley, Bob Gibson, Ray Oyler, Curt Flood, Lou Brock, Jose Feliciano, Pepper Martin, Don Wert, and Mickey Lolich. And a cast of many more.
The 2006 World Series is going to be burdened a bit by the history of the 1934 and 1968 World Series, two of the most interesting World Series ever played.
But some assorted facts:
Hall of Famers who played in the 1934 World Series:
For the Cardinals: Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher (inducted as a manager), Frankie Frisch, Jesse Haines, Joe Medwick, Dazzy Vance
For the Tigers: Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin, Hank Greenberg.
Hall of Famers who played in the 1968 World Series:
For the Cardinals: Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, and manager Red Schoendienst.
For the Tigers: Al Kaline, Eddie Mathews
Although 1934 was a much bigger offensive than 1968 (pretty much every year has had more offense than 1968), the 1968 series featured 15 home runs to just 4 in 1934. In 1968 two pitchers hit home runs: Gibson and Lolich. Lolich never hit one during the regular season in his career. The 1934 home runs were a pair from each team: Gehringer and Greenberg for Detroit; Medwick and 22-year old catcher Bill DeLancey.
We will be certain to see newsreel footage of Detroit fans throwing garbage at Medwick toward the end of Game 7, which resulted in Medwick being removed from the game for his own protection in favor of Chick Fullis. The garbage being thrown out at Medwick is almost always described in history books as "overrripe fruit." This leads to the question: did people routinely go to markets and buy fruit that was overripe and then bring it to baseball games on the offchance that they wanted to throw it at somebody? Was none of the fruit ripe? Wouldn't ripe fruit hurt more anyway?
TV viewers can try to guess how often Tim McCarver brings up Bob Gibson on the air. Once every three innings? Once every two innings? Make it a contest.
Scott Spiezio will join father Ed in playing in World Series games against the Tigers. Ed had pinch hit single in the ninth inning of Game 5 in Detroit batting of Dal (0 for 22) Maxvill. They are, I believe from a quick check, the first father-son combination to play in World Series for the Cardinals. Chris Duncan will have a chance to try to better his father Dave's mark in the World Series. Dave Duncan appeared in three games for the 1972 A's during their seven-game win over the Reds.
The Cardinals will be looking for World Series championship #10, which would make them the first National League team to reach double digits. But the Cardinals have lost their last three trips to the World Series (1985, 1987, 2004). The Tigers are looking for title #5 and have not lost in the World Series since 1940. Of course, the Tigers have played in just three World Series since 1940. Of the Tigers four World Series wins, two have come against the Cubs and one against the Padres. The Tigers hold the unique distinction of having a losing record overall against the Cubs in World Series play.
The Tigers were the first American League team to ever win three straight pennants, back from 1907-09, but they lost in the World Series each time, twice to the Cubs and once to the Pirates.
Since the Cardinals were in the World Series just two years ago, they have several players on their roster with previous World Series experience (Looper, Suppan, Weaver, Molina, Eckstein, Pujols, Spiezio, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Taguchi), the Tigers have just two (Kenny Rogers and Ivan Rodriguez).
Elden Auker, who started and lost Game 7 of the 1934 World Series for the Tigers, was the last surviving player from that series. He passed away at age 94 on August 4 at age 95. One of his catchers, Ray Hayworth, died in 2002 at the age of 98. Billy Rogell, the Tigers starting shortstop in 1934, passed away in 2003 at age 99.
Among participants in the 1968 World Series, six Tigers have passed on (Norm Cash, Eddie Mathews, Don McMahon, Ray Oyler, Joe Sparma, and Earl Wilson). Six Cardinals have passed away: Nelson Briles, Ron Davis, Joe Hoerner, Curt Flood, Roger Maris, and Ron Willis.