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Former Tigers infielder Dick McAuliffe dies at 76

McAuliffe played the infield in Detroit for 13 seasons, including for the 1968 World Series championship team.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Dick McAuliffe, the long time Detroit Tigers' infielder who played 13 of his 15 major league seasons with Detroit, has passed away at the age of 76.  He is best known for his role as the starting second baseman on the World Series Championship team in 1968, but his career spanned a decade and a half, where he displayed a combination of productive offense and steady defense at both second base and shortstop.

McAuliffe joined the Tigers in September 1960 as a utility infielder. He gained a starting role as the team's shortstop from 1963 until 1967, when he was moved to second base. His best season offensively came in 1966, when he posted a batting line of .274/.373/.509 with 23 home runs, 56 RBI, and 83 runs scored.  His career on base percentage was .343 with a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .337. He usually batted near the top of the order, starting 725 games in the lead off spot, and drew walks with great frequency. He holds a career WAR of 35.3

In 1968, McAuliffe batted just .249, but held a .343 on base percentage with 16 home runs, 8 stolen bases, and a WAR of 5.2 for the season.He led the league in runs scored and finished seventh in the American league's MVP voting that season.

McAuliffe ranked fourth among all major league shortstops in WAR during the decade of the 1960's, and he led all shortstops in wOBA while ranking second in home runs during that time. He was selected as an All Star as a shortstop in 1965 and 1966, starting for the American league in 1965.

McAuliffe was involved in a famous brawl in 1968, when Chicago White Sox pitcher, Tommy John threw at him twice, and McAuliffe charged the mound, separating John's shoulder. He was suspended five games, while John was out for the season. As his career began to decline, McAuliffe expressed a desire to finish his career with his boyhood team, the Boston Red Sox, and he was dealt to Boston for Ben Oglivie.

Those who remember him will recall his patented move, going to his right either on second base or behind the bag, spinning in mid air to fire a strike to Norm Cash, standing at first base. Even more unique was his batting stance, described in this article when BYB commenters rated McAuliffe as the 27th greatest Tiger in history.

Dick McAuliffe's Career Statistics

Year PA HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
1960 29 0 1 0 .259 .310 .333 .293 72 -0.1
1961 315 6 33 2 .256 .322 .389 .320 87 0.0
1962 539 12 63 4 .263 .349 .403 .338 103 0.3
1963 644 13 61 11 .262 .334 .384 .323 101 2.6
1964 645 24 66 8 .241 .334 .427 .336 107 4.2
1965 456 15 54 6 .260 .342 .433 .345 119 2.4
1966 506 23 56 5 .274 .373 .509 .386 152 5.6
1967 675 22 65 6 .239 .364 .411 .353 130 4.8
1968 658 16 56 8 .249 .344 .411 .343 127 5.2
1969 321 11 33 2 .262 .369 .458 .374 131 2.9
1970 639 12 50 5 .234 .358 .345 .326 97 2.0
1971 537 18 57 4 .208 .293 .379 .307 89 1.6
1972 470 8 30 0 .240 .339 .353 .318 105 1.3
1973 395 12 47 0 .274 .366 .437 .363 124 2.7
1974* 316 5 24 2 .210 .310 .320 .292 75 0.1
1975* 17 0 1 0 .133 .188 .133 .160 -18 -0.3
Career 7162 197 697 63 .247 .343 .403 .337 111 35.3

*Played for the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1975.