It’s been a long summer for Detroit Tigers baseball fans. Victories have been few and far between for a team that’s taken only a few baby steps on the road back to a winning record.
That certainly wasn’t the case 50 years ago. The 1968 Tigers won the World Series, roaring back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
A year after Detroit reeled from a riot, the Tigers gave the city something to cheer about the entire summer of 1968. They won the American League pennant by 12 games over the second-place Baltimore Orioles.
One of the big stars of the 1968 Tigers was pitcher Mickey Lolich.
He was 17-9 in the regular season with 197 strikeouts, and he was the winning pitcher in three of the Tigers’ four World Series victories, throwing three complete games.
He beat the supposedly unbeatable Bob Gibson in Game 7, and he hit a home run in Game 2. It turned out to be Lolich’s only home run in a 16-year major league career.
His heroic efforts on the mound and at bat earned him the Most Valuable Player award for the World Series.
Lolich pitched for the Tigers from 1963-1975, for the New York Mets in 1976, and San Diego Padres in 1978 and 1979 before retiring from baseball.
Now age 77, he’s joined forces with award-winning Detroit journalist Tom Gage to write a 256-page book about the 1968 Tigers season.
It’s called Joy in Tigertown: A Determined Team, A Resilient City, and Our Magical Run to the 1968 World Series. Published in June, the book includes a forward written by former Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Lolich and Gage are coming to Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield to talk about baseball and their book.
In partnership with the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation, they’ll appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the synagogue’s fourth annual Spectacular Speaker Series.
Synagogue member Frank Reinstein, who is friends with Gage, arranged the appearance, which will include guest moderator Alan “Big Al” Muskovitz.
“Mickey wasn’t interested in writing a book about the 1968 season, but his grandkids convinced him to do it,” Reinstein said. “He told Tom the book had to be positive. He didn’t want anything negative in it.
“Now that the book is out, I told Tom that he and Mickey should come to B’nai Moshe because there are a lot of Jewish baseball fans and there was an opening in our speaker series.”
Yes, there are a lot of Jewish baseball fans, but Reinstein and B’nai Moshe Executive Director Steven Fine emphasized that the speaker series is open to everyone in the community, Jews and non-Jews.
The cost to attend the talk by Lolich and Gage is $5. Autographed copies of the book will be sold for $25. Lolich will sign memorabilia for a nominal additional charge.
“You don’t have to buy the book to attend,” Reinstein said.
Attendees can pay their $5 at the door, but registering in advance is preferred.
“You’ll get in more quickly,” Fine said.
Call the synagogue office at (248) 788-0600 to register. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.
The appearance by Lolich and Gage is the second sports-related program in B’nai Moshe’s wide-ranging speaker series. Sports talk radio personality Jeff Riger from 97.1 The Ticket spoke earlier.
The last speaker was Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, who now is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
“We had about 135 people for Barbara McQuade’s talk in June,” Fine said. “I expect we’ll have more to see Mickey Lolich and Tom Gage.”
Arthur Horowitz, publisher and executive editor of Jewish News, was a speaker for the series as well.
B’nai Moshe is at 6800 Drake Road.
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