Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 22, 2012

World Series? Jump on the bandwagon

By Garret Leiva

---- — I should not write this column. It's like breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder or uttering "Macbeth" in a theater.

The Detroit Tigers are in the World Series — there I said it. Thankfully there are no superstitions or curses in baseball; just ask any Chicago Cubs fan.

Holy Willie Hernandez! They're playing major league baseball in Michigan — and it's October.

Detroit swept the pretentious New York Yankees in playoff baseball en route to the 2012 World Series. In the 2006 World Series, the Tigers stumbled against the St. Louis Cardinals. They'll either have a shot to clip those Cardinal wings or slay the San Francisco Giants in a best-of-seven matchup.

Yep, I'm back on the Tigers' bandwagon faster than a Justin Verlander pitch. This just might be the year we retire 1984.

Against my better baseball judgment, I dug up the past. I found it in a childhood memento box full of action figures and Matchbox cars: a 1984 World Series program.

I was 14 years old again, staring at the glossy faces of Lance Parrish, Dan Petry, Milt Wilcox, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Larry Herndon, Lou Whitaker and Aurelio Lopez. Tom Brookens, first base coach for the 2012 Detroit Tigers, didn't have gray hair or grand kids back then.

I forgot how a "Magnum P.I." mustache — much like an athletic cup — was required playing equipment.

As I turned the program's pages, Ernie Harwell's voice drifted out of my grandpa's tool shed. When you turned on the shed's light switch on certain summer days a little radio on the same circuit would pop to life with the Voice of the Tigers. Ernie fell silent in 2010; grandpa died in February.

Will the 2012 Tigers take a page out of the 1984 World Series program? I found some words hauntingly familiar.

An article touting the 1984 team's runaway season noted that "Despite the economic upswing of the nation over the last couple years, Detroit has still been mired in unemployment problems which have plagued the entire area for the last several years." Talk about Michigan's past repeating itself.

Speaking of history, I also came across ads in the '84 program for TWA airline tickets, Polaroid camera film, and the "RevolutionAries" Dodge K-car.

The mementos box also yielded a Detroit News newspaper dated Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1984. The front page photo features 2-year-old Kevin Du Mouchelle, large as life, sitting on his father's shoulders at Tiger Stadium. Behind them looms a scoreboard lit with the words "Detroit Tigers: 1984 World Champs."

Kevin Du Mouchelle would be 30 years old now. He was too young to have his hopes dashed in 1987 but he took it on the chin in 2006. Perhaps he, and all Old English D-town fans, can look to the faded newsprint and believe like a child up past their bedtime.

I might be whistling "Macbeth" here, but the Tigers are playing baseball — in October.