1984 World Series Re-Imagined: Game 6
What if Leon Durham hadn’t booted that ball? What if Lee Smith hadn’t let Steve Garvey take him deep? What if the Chicago Cubs had actually won the 1984 National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres? We’re re-imagining the 1984 World Series through the use of the APBA Pro Baseball Game, with the Cubs facing the American League champion Detroit Tigers.
Dan Petry out-dueled Scott Sanderson in leading the Tigers to a 3-1 win in Game Five, bringing the series back to Tiger Stadium with the home team one win away from its first World Series title in 16 years. But the Cubs felt good about their chances of forcing a seventh game, with Cy Young winner-to-be Rick Sutcliffe on the mound with his 19-1 record since coming to Chicago. The story after the jump.
MVP GIBSON LEADS TIGERS TO TITLETOWN, 5-3
DETROIT (October 16, 1984) – Kirk Gibson capped a series MVP performance with a two-run, sixth-inning home run and propelled the Detroit Tigers to a 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night, giving Detroit the World Series in six games and its first title since 1968.
Gibson, who hit .409 and slugged 1.000 in the six games, fouled off five pitches before lining a 3-2 Rick Sutcliffe offering into the seats in right for his third home run of the series and a 4-3 lead. Sutcliffe had been 19-1 in the regular and postseason since coming to the Cubs. He struck out seven but gave up home runs to Gibson, Chet Lemon and Lance Parrish in the biggest game of the year and left after six innings.
Leon Durham’s three-run home run in the first inning gave Chicago a 3-0 lead, and that appeared to be all Sutcliffe would need on this night. The big righthander retired 13 of the first 14 Tigers he faced, with only a walk to Dave Bergman in the third spoiling the run. But Rupert Jones singled to center with one out in the fifth, and Lemon followed two batters later with a line drive home run into the seats in left to make it 3-2.
The Cubs threatened to extend their lead in the top of the sixth, but the inning ended on a play that will live in Cub infamy: After Richie Hebner struck out to lead off the inning, Ron Cey hit a bloop double over Bergman’s head at first. Tiger starter Milt Wilcox then struck out Keith Moreland, bringing Jody Davis to the plate with two out. Davis stroked a single to deep center that Lemon appeared to misplay. Third base coach Don Zimmer surprisingly sent the slow-footed Cey home, but Lemon recovered the ball and fired to the plate where Lance Parrish tagged Cey to end the inning and keep the score 3-2.
Gibson’s home run, with Alan Trammell aboard, gave the Tigers the lead for good. Parrish, mired in a 2-for-20 slump through the first five games, followed with a home run to dead center field for the final margin. Ace reliever Willie Hernandez took over for starter Milt Wilcox with a runner on first and the tying run at the plate in the ninth, but escaped the jam by getting Ryne Sandberg to pop out and Gary Matthews to ground out to end the game and the Cubs’ Cinderella season.
Gibson went 9-for-22 (.409) with 8 RBI and 22 total bases in the six games, earning unanimous MVP honors. Sandberg, the likely National League MVP, had a pedestrian series, hitting just .240 (6-for-25) with one home run and three RBIs. The Cubs left 45 men on base in the six games. Click here for the composite statistics.
Game-winning RBI: Gibson (3). E – None. DP – None. 2B – Dernier, Cey. HR – Durham (2), Lemon (2), Gibson (3), Parrish (1). SB – Matthews.
Umpires: HP – Mike Reilly, 1B – Doug Harvey, 2B – Larry Barnett, 3B – Bruce Froemming, LF – Rich Garcia, RF – Paul Runge.
Final notes: I was a Cubs fan from 1982-2008 (been in recovery four years now) and them losing the 1984 NLCS was one of the big disappointments of my first 20 years of life. This replay of what might have been was fun, and, I have to admit, ended just about exactly as it should have, if you believe in “Cubbie Occurrences,” as Lou Piniella did. Of course Don Zimmer would have sent Ron Cey and of course he would have been out at the plate. Of course Sutcliffe wouldn’t have come through in the game they had to have after winning nearly every game. Of course Kirk Gibson would hit the series-clinching home run. Such is the magic of APBA. Hope you enjoyed it.