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DETROIT TIGERS

April 13, 1959
April 13, 1959

Table of Contents
April 13, 1959

Ask Him Anything
Wondrous Wall
Florida Derby
Wonderful World Of Sport
They Call It Baseball
  • HERE, beginning with a few ideas on what one can expect in 1959, Sports Illustrated presents its fifth annual preview of the major league season, with pictures in both color and black and white, scouting reports, schedules, statistics and features

The Umpire
Scouting Reports
  • Even in an inflationary economy there is no safer and better return on your money than the 40¢ profit you get in the fall from the dollar you bet in the spring that the Yankees will win the pennant. New York will win again in 1959

  • The White Sox feel that this is the year the Yankees can be beaten. If such a feat is possible, this is the team that can do it, if only someone would start hitting home runs. The rest of the pennant-winning ingredients are all there

  • Let the small letter i represent the American League. The Yankees, of course, are the dot, so the best the Boston Red Sox can hope for is a place near the top of the stem. Much depends on whether life truly begins at 40 for Ted Williams

  • Colavito, Minoso, Piersall, Power and Martin are about as colorful a crew as you will find in baseball. The team as a whole isn't nearly as good as the perpetual second-place finishers of a few years ago, but it's going to be more fun to watch

  • Every spring the Tigers promise much, but when summer rolls around they deliver little. This year they are keeping quiet, hoping that this team of many stars can finally do what everyone feels it should do—contend for the pennant

  • The Orioles' outstanding pitching and good defense should guarantee a fight for any opponent. Last season they finished sixth, but a good sixth, just three games out of the first division. To finish in fourth place, then, is their goal for 1959

  • The fury of mass trading is just about over, and the Athletics are a lot closer to that glorious day when they will be able to boast 25 major leaguers on the roster. Nevertheless, a .500 season for Kansas City is still a remote possibility

  • The road to the American League cellar is paved with the good intentions of the Washington Senators. Baseball magnates feel it needs a major league club in the national capital, but Cal Griffith provides only the palest imitation of one

  • An original statistical report

  • The Braves are not too blasé to appreciate those fat World Series checks every fall. With a well-rounded band of seasoned players and the richest pitching resources in the league, Milwaukee will not be easily beaten. But it can be

  • The Pirates will be a stimulating team to watch this summer as they throw strong pitching, superior defense, sharp hitting and fast legs onto the field. They'll be nearly everyone's sentimental favorite and might just win it all

  • Talented young players with great arms, blazing speed, sure instincts in the field and powerful bats in their hands are the trademark of the 1959 Giants. Sophisticated San Franciscans are in for excitement if the pitching holds up

  • The great power teams of 1956 and '57 are gone, but so is the bad pitching that wrecked them. Changed also is last year's squad, which was unbalanced in the opposite sense. Now the Reds plan to field a ball club with a smoother blend

  • Bad days have fallen upon the St. Louis Cardinals, and the bright promise of two years ago has been faithless. The effects on the club of uncertain, divided direction and erratic trading policies are now being felt. Busch has a loser here

  • Heavy trading during the past two seasons and a thorough search of the farm system produced last year a hard-hitting lineup that gave the Cubs the best team they've had in a long time. There is, however, still lots of work to be done

  • Walter O'Malley made all the money he expected to last year. Now it's time for the Dodgers to start playing ball. This is too good a team to be fooling around down in the second division. It should be a more pleasant season for Los Angeles

  • The good old days for the Phillies were in 1950, when Manager Eddie Sawyer led the club to its first pennant in 35 years. Those days are gone, and the Phillies are back in eighth place. Once again it's Sawyer's job to take them on and up

Boxing
Horse Racing
Motor Sports
Food
Dogs
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

DETROIT TIGERS

Every spring the Tigers promise much, but when summer rolls around they deliver little. This year they are keeping quiet, hoping that this team of many stars can finally do what everyone feels it should do—contend for the pennant

STRONG POINTS
The pitching is here and so is the hitting, with the defense sound in most spots. Frank Lary, Jim Bunning, Paul Foytack and Billy Hoeft could be a strong starting foursome. Don Mossi and Ray Narleski, the lefty-righty relief stars of Cleveland's pennant drive in 1954, form a powerful bullpen combination. Lary, with the league's best earned run average for right-handers, humiliated the World Champion Yankees a record-breaking seven times last year while losing to them only once. Bunning didn't win 20 as he did two seasons ago but he did throw a no-hitter, and he ranked second in the league in strikeouts. Foytack has averaged 15 wins a year over the last three seasons, and Hoeft, who looked very sharp this spring, furnishes left-handed strength on the staff. Only Al Kaline keeps Al Kaline from living up to all the potential he showed as a 20-year-old batting champ four years ago. A marvelous player who can do just about everything, Kaline should be at his prime. Former All-Star Shortstop Harvey Kuenn moved to center field last season and became an All-Star outfielder. More at ease out there, Kuenn hit .319, six points ahead of Kaline. Left Fielder Charley Maxwell lost some of his effectiveness in 1958 but is still a fairly dangerous hitter. At second, Frank Boiling is an awfully good fielder who makes all the plays and also hits with some power. Gail Harris, who could never make it with the Giants, became the regular first baseman in mid-June and proceeded to lead the team in home runs with 20. Red Wilson is not the best fielding catcher in the league but he did bat .299, and few other catchers can boast of an average that high. The veteran Johnny Groth has always been a fine outfielder, and as a reserve last season hit .281. Big Gus Zernial, who is a detriment with a glove on his hand but a terror with a bat, led all American League pinch hitters with a .395 average.

This is an article from the April 13, 1959 issue Original Layout

WEAK SPOTS
Despite the fine team batting average (.266), there is a woeful lack of power. Tiger batters hit only 109 home runs, which didn't come close to making up for the 133 given up by Tiger pitchers. Of the team's 77 defeats, 45 were by the margin of one or two runs. Plenty of men were getting on base, but the big hit was lacking when it was most needed. Kuenn, Wilson, Boiling and newcomers Bridges and Yost are mainly singles hitters, and last year so were Kaline and Maxwell. The infield reserves are good fielders but poor hitters. And beyond the big six of the pitching staff you find too many names like George Susce, Henry Aguirre and Herman Wehmeier—all of whom show skill but none of whom can be counted on.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Last year the Tigers were short on relief and miserable on the left side of the infield. That should all be changed now that some major league players have been obtained to fill in the gaps. From Cleveland came Ray Narleski and Don Mossi, once the best relief tandem in the world. Both had their fling at starting, but now will be strictly relievers, once again, in Detroit. Eddie Yost, the longtime Washington third baseman, was for years the best lead-off man in the league, unparalleled at drawing walks. A smart baseball man who inspires in a quiet way, he could be the leader the Tigers thought they had last season in Billy Martin. Tobacco-chewing Rocky Bridges became a regular, at long last, in Washington and ended up on the All-Star team. He knows how to play shortstop, and he is as good a hitter as anyone who played short last year for the Tigers. Lou Berberet, with Boston in 1958, could give Wilson a tussle for the first-string job. Southpaw Pete Burnside, who always has a world of stuff in the minors but never seems to be able to show it in the majors, looked impressive this spring, and at 28 may have matured into a dependable starting pitcher. Aging Larry Doby, traded from the Indians, adds a power hitter to the bench who can play in the outfield.

THE BIG IFS
Kaline and Maxwell have to start hitting home runs again, and Gail Harris has to show he is really a good hitter. If Eddie Yost has slowed down too much after all those frustrating years of service for the Senators, and Rocky Bridges doesn't solve the annual shortstop problem, it's back again to such as Coot Veal and Ozzie Virgil. If Lary could beat somebody besides the Yankees for a change and Hoeft could show the form that brought him 20 wins three years ago, the Tigers will be able to match their staff with any other in the league.

THE OUTLOOK
With a minimum of the old hoopla this spring, the Tigers have tried to eliminate glaring inadequacies. There has always been a plenitude of talent on this club, but most of it has been pulling in different directions. It will be up to Manager Bill Norman to blend everyone into a team that thinks more about winning than individual performance. If he succeeds, the Tigers, fifth last year, will finish well up in the first division.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTOIF THE DETROIT TIGERS ARE TO BECOME PENNANT CONTENDERS AT LAST, AL KALINE MUST NOT ONLY LEAD THE TEAM AT BAT, HE MUST LEAD THE TEAMPHOTOKUENNPHOTOBOLLINGPHOTOHARRISPHOTOMAXWELLPHOTOWILSONPHOTOYOSTPHOTOBRIDGESPHOTOBUNNINGPHOTOLARYPHOTOFOYTACKPHOTOHOEFTPHOTONARLESKIILLUSTRATION

BASIC ROSTER

NO.

NAME

POSITION

1958 RECORD

1

EDDIE YOST

3B

.224

2

FRANK BOLLING

2B

.269

3

JOHNNY GROTH

OF

.281

4

CHARLEY MAXWELL

LF

.272

5

GAIL HARRIS

1B

.273

6

AL KALINE

RF

.313

7

HARVEY KUENN

CF

.319

8

ROCKY BRIDGES

SS

.263

9

GUS ZERNIAL

OF

.323

10

RED WILSON

C

.299

11

LOU BERUERET

C

.208

22

OZZIE VIRGIL

3B

.244

23

COOT VEAL

SS

.256

14

JIM BUNNING

P

14-2

15

DON MOSSI

P

7-8

16

RAY NARLESKI

P

13-10

17

FRANK LARY

P

16-15

18

TOM MORGAN

P

2-5

21

PAUL FOYTACK

P

15-13

44

BILLY HOEFT

P

10-9

PAST PERFORMANCE CHART

YEAR

FINISHED

WON

LOST

GAMES BEHIND

1958

5

77

77

15

1957

4

78

76

20

1956

5

82

72

15

1955

5

79

75

17

1954

5

68

86

43

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

BATTING

PITCHING

1958

KUENN

.319

LARY

16-15

1957

KALINE

.295

BUNNING

20-8

1956

KUENN

.332

LARY

21-13

1955

KALINE

.340

HOEFT

16-7

1954

KUENN

.306

GROMEK

18-16

HOME RUNS

RUNS BATTED IN

1958

HARRIS

20

KALINE

85

1957

MAXWELL

24

KALINE

90

1956

MAXWELL

28

KALINE

128

1955

KALINE

27

BOONE

116

1954

BOONE

20

BOONE

85

HOME SCHEDULE

*Night game

APRIL

CHICAGO

10,11,12

CLEVELAND

21*,22,23

BALTIMORE

28*,29

WASHINGTON

30

MAY

WASHINGTON

1,2

NEW YORK

3,3

BOSTON

5*,6,7

KANSAS CITY

8*,9,10

CLEVELAND

31

JUNE

CLEVELAND

1

NEW YORK

2*,3*,4

WASHINGTON

5*,6,7

BOSTON

23*,24,25

BALTIMORE

26*,27,28

KANSAS CITY

29,30*

JULY

KANSAS CITY

1

CHICAGO

2*,3

CLEVELAND

4,4,5

WASHINGTON

21*,22,23

NEW YORK

24*,25,26

BALTIMORE

27,28*,29,30

BOSTON

31*

AUGUST

BOSTON

1,2

CHICAGO

11*,12,13

CLEVELAND

14*,15,16

NEW YORK

18*,19*,20

BOSTON

21*,22

BALTIMORE

23,23

WASHINGTON

25*,26

SEPTEMBER

KANSAS CITY

4,5,6,22,23

CHICAGO

25,26,27