As the St. Louis Cardinals prepare themselves for a return to the NLCS, we thought we we take a look back at a time when they went all the way to the World Series... and lost.
Today marks the 51 year anniversary of the Detroit Tigers 1968 World Series win, which reminds us both that the team has the ability to accomplish tremendous success, and also that the postseason used to be much shorter.
The 1968 World Series really seemed to be going St. Louis’s way. They won the first game, dropped the second to Detroit 8-1, then won the next two at Tiger Stadium (adding insult to injury), giving them a 3-1 series lead, seemingly poised to take it all.
The Tigers won game five at home, the the clubs headed back to St. Louis, where the crushed the Cardinals 13-1 to tie the series. The deciding game seven came on October 10, 1968 in front of 54,692 Cardinals fans.
The starters were Mickey Lolich for the Tigers and Bob Gibson for the Cardinals, and it was a classic ace-off, as both teams went scoreless through six innings. Then in the top of the sixth Gibson allowed two baserunners in Norm Cash and Willie Horton. Jim Northrup hit the ball deep to center, Northrup got a triple and score Cash and Horton, giving the Tigers the first lead of the game. A Bill Freehan double scored Northrup, bringing the score to 3-0.
The Tigers struck again in the ninth with a Don Wert RBI single. While the Cardinals were able to avoid the shutout with a Mike Shannon home run in the bottom of the ninth, they were not able to rally. The Tigers won the game and the series.
Mikey Lolich was named the World Series MVP, and it’s worth noting that he and Gibson both pitched complete games that day. The last time in World Series history two starting pitchers both went the distance.