History of the Tigers #1: 1894-1910

This is the first entry of a new series starting on BSW, where every week we will be looking back at a decade of the Detroit Tigers history. This series will be posted every Friday, so make sure you look for it on the blog or on the BSW facebook page. Also, I will soon be starting a weekly series where you can vote for the topic you want me to write an article about, so make sure you stay tuned for that. Thanks!

When were the Tigers founded?

Most people think that the Tigers were founded in 1901, when they started playing as a major league team in the American League, but they were actually formed as a minor league club in 1894, when they played in the Western League. The Western League was renamed as the American League in 1900, but the Tigers still competed as a minor league club, as did the entire AL. The following year, the Tigers and the rest of the American League decided to compete at the major league level, directly competing with the existing National League (this is why you often hear the National League referred to as the “Senior Circuit”). Beginning in 1901,  the AL and NL fiercely competed for players and fans.

First Major League Game

On April 24, 1901, the Detroit Tigers prepared to play their first major league game in the American League. But the game was postponed, so the fans had to wait another day to see the Tigers play. On April 25, 1901, the Tigers officially made their AL debut. Going into the bottom of the 9th the Tigers were down 13-4. But the Tigers rallied back and they ended up winning with a walk off 2 run double from Frank “Pop” Dillon. The Tigers had a record of 74-61, which now would probably be good enough today to make the playoffs, but the World Series did not commence until 1903, and even then only the top team from each League competed, as the winner of the regular season in each League went directly to the World Series.

Losing then Winning

The Tigers had a very rough 3 years after that having a losing record in all 3 seasons and a combined record of 179-244. Those years must have been tough for Tiger fans, but in 1905 the future of the Tigers changed forever. And it came in the form of a skinny kid from Georgia. His name was Tyrus Raymond Cobb. The Tigers acquired Cobb from Augusta in the Sally League for Eddie Cicotte and $700, plus $50 for immediate delivery. Cobb played his first game with the Tigers on August 30, 1905. The Tigers had their second winning season ever that year, going 79-74. The next year the Tigers had a losing record of 71-78, but in 1907, the Tigers changed their manager from Bill Armour to Hughie Jennings. The Tigers needed a long term manager after they had changed their managing 5 times in their first 6 seasons in the American League. And Hughie Jennings was the man for the job. Known for his “Eh-yah’s” and hollering in the third base coaching box, Jennings led the Tigers to the pennant in his first season as their manager! The Tigers went 92-58 but lost to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

The American League Dynasty

The Tigers were the best team in the American League for 3 straight years, making the World Series in 1907, 08, and 09. The problem is, they lost all 3 times. They were just 4-12-1 in the 3 World Series, and they couldn’t seem to beat the Cubs or Pirates. In the last season of this period of time, the Tigers had another impressive season, with a record of 86-68, but the Philidelphia Athletics went 102-48, and the Tigers finished 3rd in the American League.

I hope you enjoyed the first post in the new History of the Tigers series, and if you do, it would be greatly appreciated if you liked the Facebook post and liked my page so all your friends can see my page. Thank you!


Sources: All post-1900 info is provided by this website. Pre-1900 info is from here.  All records are from here.


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