The country was in a time of change and turmoil, yet it was also the happy days of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Leave It To Beaver.” The show “Happy Days” had not aired yet, but this was the era that it was about. This dichotomy existed between rural and suburban America to its large urban areas. The Vietnam War was raging on. Hippies said to make love, peace, and not war. Riots and civil demonstrations took place in major cities for five straight years spanning the entire country in New York – 1964, Los Angeles – 1965, Chicago – 1966, Detroit – 1967, and Newark in 1968 – marked the end of major civil unrest for the time period. Detroit had seen one of the bloodiest riots of all and was a city in dire need of something positive to cheer for. St. Louis was the defending World Series champion, having come back to the ‘show’ to defend their title following a grueling 4 – 3 series against the Boston Red Sox the year before. They had 11 previous World Series appearances before ’68.
Both teams already had a rich World Series history and powerful line-ups for this series. Many odds-makers favored St. Louis as the defending world champion.
St. Louis came into the series with soon to be Hall of Fame and other memorable names such as Tim McCarver, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Nelson Briles, Orlando Cepeda, Roger Maris, Ted Simmons, Ron Davis, Phil Gagliano and Bobby Tolan.
The Cardinals’ Gibson ended the season with a startling 1.12 ERA, with 268 strike-outs. The Cards’ Lou Brock, a constant threat and annoyance to pitchers, was on his way to hold a then all time base-stealing record in 1974 with 118.
The Tigers’ controversial and since maligned Denny McLain topped all pitchers with 31 wins to only 6 losses that year.
Detroit was rebuilding as a city and the Tigers, having been to the show seven previous times including a losing appearance in 1934, to the Cardinals, were similarly coming together as a team. Detroit came in with similar future Hall of Famers and memorables such as Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Bill Freehan, Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Gates Brown, Jim Northrup, Dick McAuliffe, and Don Wert.
They also had one of the most memorable pitching staffs that included McLain, Pat Dobson, Daryl Patterson, Joe Sparma and with two of the best hitting pitchers in history (all pitchers had to hit then – unless substituted for a pinch hitter and would have to come out of the game, as the DH was not yet in place) in Mickey Lolich – the switch hitting lefty, and Earl Wilson, one of the best fielding pitchers of all time. They also had the best relief closer of the time in John Hiller.
This writer’s father obtained first-base side, near front row, box-seat tickets for one of the most memorable World Series’ ever, after long waits in lines for the opening games, connections for the final, and a top dollar for all. In later years as a teen and adult, I waited in lines in various cities, often overnight, bartered and more for tickets. The 1968 series topped many, bested only by the 1971 All-Star game – the last that father and I saw together before his death – where Reggie Jackson hit the monstrous and still memorable homer for the American League. As an eye-witness, the trajectory of Jackson’s ball was still climbing when it hit lights that over-hang high above old Tiger Stadium. This was also before players used steroids.
Tigers Center-Fielder Jim Northrup blasted a two-run triple, and Lolich pitched a complete nine innings on two days rest in game seven to take the title from the Cardinals in 1968.
Both the Tigers and Cardinals went to their respective league championships this, and last year. The 2013 Tigers came up one game short. Ironically, the AL team that faced the Cardials in the series in 1967 – the Red Sox, took this year’s sixth ALCS game from Detroit to advance to the 2013 series.
Now and in recent years, season ticket holders usually have the first opportunities to purchase series and championship tickets in most sports. The Internet is an option, but only reputable sources such as the respective teams, league sources, or known and reputable sites such as ticket liquidators, Stub Hub, or other known sources should be used.