Over the course of a person’s lifetime, there are major moments one can remember every vivid detail of no matter how long ago it was. A wedding, birthday party, family event, or even sports. For me, October 14th, 2006 seems like it happened yesterday. Even though it was seven years ago to the day.
2006 was a great year. After watching the Tigers struggle mightily and be the doormat of the AL Central for the first few years as a fan, 2006 was something new for me as a 15-year-old kid coming into my first year of high school. For the first time in over a decade the Tigers were relevant and were headed for the playoffs for the first time since 1987.
I can remember everything I did on October 14th, 2006. That was the year my Dad’s health problems first started to arise which ended up being the beginning of his long decline until he lost his life last year.
Being only 15-years-old and not old enough to be by myself while my Dad was in the hospital, I was staying at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for the time being. Throughout the first round of the playoffs I’d keep my Dad informed on the Tigers playing the role of spoilers and beating the “mighty” Yankees who were suppose to dispose of the Tigers rather easily in the ALDS.
After the Tigers had made it past the Yankees, I knew they had a real shot at making it to the World Series.
Against Oakland in the ALCS games one, two, and three were great but nothing could ever compare to game four.
I woke up nervous, anxious, knowing what was on the line that day. The Tigers not only had a chance to go to the World Series, they had a chance to sweep the A’s right out of town in impressive and dominating fashion.
About the time noon came around I ended up having to go to another one of my relatives house’s to spend the night. After a trip to White Castle for lunch and a few hours watching concert DVD’s of Carlos Santana and Aerosmith with my Uncle Chuck it was game time.
Throughout the game there was a lot of talk about the 1984 Tigers since it was on October 14th, 1984 the Tigers won their last World Series. So it was in weird coincidence that the Tigers had a chance to go to the World Series on the anniversary of their last World Championship.
Here was the starting lineup for the Tigers
- Curtis Granderson
- Craig Monroe
- Placido Polanco
- Magglio Ordonez
- Carlos Guillen
- Ivan Rodiguez
- Alexis Gomez
- Brandon Inge
- Ramon Santiago
The young flamethrower with the great slider, Jeremy Bonderman, would also be on the mound for the Tigers.
Bonderman came out of the gate throwing gas. Hitting anywhere from 96-98 MPH consistently on the radar gun. He also began the game by deposing of A’s catcher Jason Kendall on a nasty slider. But the A’s would put up two runs on the young hurler early.
Dan Haren stifled the Tigers bats early. In fact, the Tigers had only two hits going into the fifth inning while the A’s had tagged Bonderman up for three runs and had the look like they were without a doubt not going quietly in this series.
That all changed however in the fifth for the Tigers.
Brandon Inge lead of the inning with a single but advanced to second on a throwing error by Eric Chavez. Santiago then got Inge over to third to set up the top of the lineup where Granderson doubled to drive in Inge getting Detroit on the board who now trailed the A’s 3-1. Monroe followed Granderson’s double with a two-bagger of his own and cut the score to 3-2 before Polanco ended the inning by hitting into a double play.
In the 6th inning Ordonez hit a home run that not too many people remember him hitting when he deposited the ball into the left field pavilion to tie the game at three.
And that is where the game would stay until the 9th inning.
Bonderman ended up going 6 2/3 innings while only giving up three earned runs and six hits which wasn’t bad at all. After that the bullpen pitched a scoreless final 2 2/3 innings to keep the Tigers in it giving them a chance to win the game in the 9th.
For the A’s Huston Street came out for the 9th inning already pitching 1 1/3 innings and retiring the Tigers rather easily. Not to mention Street was just a season removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Award while adding an impressive sophomore campaign.
To lead off the inning, Marcus Thames pinch-hit for Santiago and Tigers fans knew what that meant, it was either going to be a pinch-hit home run or he was going to strike out. Well as it turned out it was neither one of those as Street retired Thames on a fly-out to center field. One down in the ninth. Granderson came up to face Street, and like Thames, he had no luck as he would eventually line out. Two down. It was looking like it might be another snappy inning for Street.
Craig Monroe though had other ideas.
Having been pretty clutch all of 2006 (14 of his 28 home runs had been hit in the 7th inning or later and hit .271 from the 7th inning) Monroe singled to put the winning run on the bases. Polanco then came up with his third hit of the game to put the winning run in scoring position. It was all up to Ordonez to drive Monroe in and send the Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years.
First though, Ordonez had a very good season in 2006. He put up a .298/.350/.477 slash while hitting 24 home runs and driving in 104 RBIs. Ordonez had been put down a bit throughout the second half of 2006 as his power had seemed to disappear while hitting 16 home runs in the first half but only eight in the second. This also reflected in his second half slugging percentage at .438 down from .511.
But none of that mattered. Ordonez had a chance to etch himself as an immortal figure in Tigers history if he could be the one got the Tigers to the World Series.
The first pitch was a ball inside. 1-0 as Street took a breathe and set back up peering in at Kendall waiting to see what he was going to call. Kendall called for another fastball inside, trying to get Ordonez to pop out and save the A’s season.
That turned out to be a mistake… a grave mistake for the A’s.
Street went into his windup as Dan Dickerson called,” Here’s the 1-0, swing and a fly ball, left field, and deep! IT’S WAY BACK! THE TIGERS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES! THREE-RUN WALK-OFF HOME RUN!”
My reaction was no different. I was sitting in my uncle’s little TV room with my cousin and my little brother. As soon as Ordonez hit it, my brother and I ran rampantly around this tiny room in circles not knowing what to do with the overflowing emotions of happiness
For the first time in my lifetime the Tigers were going to the World Series which was hard to believe since it was just a few years before that Detroit had lost 119 games.
Everyone knows though how the season ultimately ended for the Tigers. Inge striking out to clinch the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals which was a terrible cap on such a memorable season. But the Tigers had done things they hadn’t done in decades and little did we know the great things to come for the Tigers in the future.
What were you doing on October 14th, 2006?