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1976 Detroit Tigers season

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Title: 1976 Detroit Tigers season  
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Subject: Major League Baseball on ABC, 1977 Detroit Tigers season, 1975 Detroit Tigers season, List of Detroit Tigers seasons, Detroit Tigers
Collection: 1976 Major League Baseball Season, Detroit Tigers Seasons
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

1976 Detroit Tigers season

1976 Detroit Tigers
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) John Fetzer
Manager(s) Ralph Houk
Local television WWJ-TV
(Al Kaline)
Local radio WJR
(Ernie Harwell, Paul Carey)
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The 1976 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. The team finished in fifth place in the American League East with a record of 74-87, 24 games behind the New York Yankees. They were outscored by their opponents 709 to 609. The Tigers drew 1,467,020 fans to Tiger Stadium in 1976, ranking 4th of the 14 teams in the American League.


  • Offseason 1
  • Regular season 2
    • Season chronology 2.1
    • Season standings 2.2
    • Notable transactions 2.3
    • Roster 2.4
  • Player stats 3
    • Batting 3.1
      • Starters by position 3.1.1
      • Other batters 3.1.2
    • Pitching 3.2
      • Starting pitchers 3.2.1
      • Other pitchers 3.2.2
      • Relief pitchers 3.2.3
  • Awards and honors 4
    • League top ten finishers 4.1
    • Players ranking among top 100 all time at position 4.2
  • Farm system 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Regular season

1976 was the year of "The Bird" in Detroit, as rookie pitcher Mark Fidrych drew sell-out crowds to Tiger Stadium. Fidrych led the major leagues with a 2.34 ERA, won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and finished with a 19-9 record.

Aurelio Rodríguez also became the first American League third baseman other than Brooks Robinson to win the Gold Glove Award at third base since 1959.

Season chronology

  • April 20: Milt May‚ acquired by the Tigers in December‚ broke his ankle crashing into the wall behind home plate while chasing a foul ball. He did not play for the remainder of the season.
  • April 20: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych appeared in his first major league game.[5]
  • May 15: Mark Fidrych won his first major league start. Fidrych pitched a complete game, allowing only two hits in a 2-1 victory over the Indians. Fidrych took a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a single to Buddy Bell in the seventh. Aside from his fine pitching, Fidrych drew attention for talking to the ball during the game‚ and patting down the mound each inning. Tom Veryzer had the game-winning RBI for Detroit with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
  • May 25: Mark Fidrych pitched well in his second start, holding the Red Sox to six hits and two runs, but the Tigers were shut out, 2-0, by Luis Tiant.
  • May 28: After hitting safely in 30 straight games since April 17, Ron LeFlore went hitless in a 9-5 loss to the Yankees. LeFlore's hitting streak tied the third longest in team history.
  • May 31: Manager Ralph Houk let rookie Mark Fidrych go 11 innings for a complete game, 5-4 win over the Brewers. Fidrych gave up a run in the top of the 11th inning, but the Tigers rallied in the bottom of the 11th on singles by Chuck Scrivener, Jerry Manuel, and Tom Veryzer. Ron LeFlore had two triples in the game.
  • June 1: John Hiller won both games of a double header against the Brewers. The Tigers came from behind to win 8-7 and 7-5.
  • June 5: Mark Fidrych pitched his second straight 11-inning complete game, beating Bert Blyleven and the Texas Rangers, 3-2. Ben Oglivie scored the winning run in the top of the 11th, and The Bird pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 11th against the heart of the Rangers lineup (Mike Hargrove, Toby Harrah, and Jeff Burroughs).
  • June 8: The Tigers traded Joe Coleman to the Chicago Cubs for cash and a player to be named later. On the same day, the Tigers had the second pick in the baseball draft, selecting pitcher Pat Underwood.
  • June 11: "Bird"-mania began to take hold in Detroit. A crowd of 36,377 showed up in Detroit for a Friday night game, as Mark Fidrych faced Nolan Ryan. Fidrych gave up only one earned run, and the Tigers came out on top, 4-3. The Tigers won on a walk-off single by Alex Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Ron LeFlore scoring the winning run.
  • June 15: The Tigers lost to the Amos Otis drove in five runs.
  • June 16: The Tigers drew 21,659 on a Wednesday night to watch Mark Fidrych win his fifth game. Fidrych held the Royals to five hits and two earned runs. The Tigers trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Tigers rallied for two runs off singles by Dan Meyer and Alex Johnson, and a walk by Aurelio Rodríguez. Mickey Stanley ended it with a walk-off single to right field, driving in Johnson.
  • June 20: The Tigers beat the Twins, 7-3, in Minneapolis, as Mark Fidrych extended his record to 6-1. Jason Thompson hit a three-run home run in the 3rd inning for the Tigers.
  • June 24: Mark Fidrych drew 26,293 fans to Fenway Park for a Thursday night game, as the Tigers won, 6-3. Jason Thompson homered and Fidrych pitched another complete game.
  • June 28: Mark Fidrych was in the spotlight, as the Tigers faced the Yankees on Monday Night Baseball. In front of a crowd of 47,855 at Tiger Stadium and a national television audience, "The Bird" talked to the ball and groomed the mound, as the Tigers won, 5-1 in a game that lasted only 1 hour and 51 minutes.
  • July 3: As the country prepared to celebrate the Bicentennial, Mark Fidrych shut out the Orioles 4-0 in front of a sell out crowd of 51,032 at Tiger Stadium. Fidrych gave up only four hits and extended his record to 9-1.
  • July 9: Pitching in front of another sell-out crowd (51,041) at Tiger Stadium, Mark Fidrych held the Royals to one run in nine innings, but Dennis Leonard shut out the Tigers. The final score was Royals - 1; Tigers - 0.
  • July 13: Mark Fidrych gave up two runs and was tagged as the losing pitcher in the 1976 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The National League All-Stars defeated the American League, 7-1.
  • July 16: Mark Fidrych won his 10th game, a 1-0 victory over the A's. Another big crowd (45,905) showed up to watch "The Bird" do his thing on the mound at Tiger Stadium.
  • July 20: A crowd of over 30,000 shows up on a Tuesday night in Minneapolis to watch "The Bird." Fidrych pitched another complete game and got his 11th win, 8-3. Rusty Staub and Ron LeFlore homered for the Tigers.
  • July 24: "The Bird" drew another big crowd to Tiger Stadium (37,405), but lasted only 4.1 innings. John Hiller got the win in relief, as Ben Oglivie hit a home run in the eighth inning to give the Tigers a 5-4 win over the Indians.
  • July 29: Mark Fidrych took a loss despite pitching a six-hit complete game and not allowing an earned run. The Orioles shut out the Tigers, 1-0, as Lee May scored an unearned run in the fourth inning on an error by Detroit second baseman Pedro García. Rusty Staub tripled in the bottom of the fourth, but did not score as Willie Horton and Alex Johnson followed with ground balls to third base.
  • August 7: "The Bird" got his 12th win against the Indians, a complete game six-hitter, by a score of 6-1. Ben Oglivie went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Dan Meyer and Ron LeFlore scored two runs each.
  • August 11: The Tigers beat the Rangers, 4-3, as Mark Fidrych notched his 13th win over Gaylord Perry. The Tigers drew 36,523 for a Wednesday game in Detroit. Rusty Staub and Willie Horton both hit home runs for Detroit.
  • August 17: Despite a losing record, the Tigers drew a season-high 51,822 fans on a Tuesday night, as Bird-mania reached a frenzy. The game featured Mark Fidrych against Frank Tanana. Fidrych did not disappoint the fans, as the Tigers won 3-2. Fidrych went to 14-4.
  • August 18: Nolan Ryan struck out 17 Tigers batters. The Angels won, 5-4, in 11 innings.
  • August 25: The Tigers beat the White Sox, 3-1, in front of 40,000 fans on a Wednesday night in Detroit. Rookie Mark Fidrych held the White Sox to five hits in a game that lasted only one hour and 48 minutes.
  • August 31: Nolan Ryan struck out Ron LeFlore for the 2000th strikeout of his career.[6]
  • September 3: The Tigers lost to the Brewers, 11-2, as Mark Fidrych had the worst outing of his young career, and Mike Hegan hit for the cycle for Milwaukee. Fidrych gave up nine runs (seven earned) in 3.2 innings.
  • September 12: The Tigers beat Dock Ellis, 3-0, in front of 52,707 fans at Yankee Stadium. Mark Fidrych pitched a complete game shutout for his 16th win.
  • September 18: Mark Fidrych and the Tigers beat the Indians, 4-0. Willie Horton had a double, a home run, and two RBIs, and Fidrych held the Indians to five hits for his 18th win. The Bird continued his pattern of fast-paced games, as the game lasted only 1 hour and 48 minutes.
  • September 22: Without The Bird pitching, the Tigers did not draw well. On this date, a season-low 3,616 fans showed up at Tiger Stadium to watch the Indians shut out the Tigers, 3-0.
  • September 24: Tigers starter Dave Roberts shut out the AL East champion Yankees, 3-0. Roberts held the Yankees to five hits, as John Wockenfuss had a triple and Rusty Staub hit a home run.
  • October 1: John Hiller got a rare start for the Tigers and pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout over the Brewers at County Stadium. * October 2: In his last start of the 1976 season, Fidrych got his 19th win, beating the Brewers, 4-1. Fidrych held the Brewers to five hits in a game that lasted 1 hour and 46 minutes.
  • October 3: The Tigers finished the season on a four-game winning streak, beating the Brewers, 5-2. The game was Hank Aaron's last major league game. Aaron hit an RBI-single to shortstop off Dave Roberts in his last at bat in the bottom of the sixth inning.
  • November 5: The Cy Young Award is announced, with Jim Palmer taking the award over Mark Fidrych.
  • December 4: The AL Gold Glove Award at third base was awarded to Aurelio Rodríguez. Rodríguez was the first AL third baseman other than Brooks Robinson to win the award since 1959.

Season standings

AL East W L GB Pct.
New York Yankees 97 62 -- .610
Baltimore Orioles 88 74 10.5 .543
Boston Red Sox 83 79 15.5 .512
Cleveland Indians 81 78 16 .509
Detroit Tigers 74 87 24 .509
Milwaukee Brewers 66 95 32 .410

Notable transactions


Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
C Freehan, BillBill Freehan 71 237 64 .270 5 27
1B Thompson, JasonJason Thompson 123 412 90 .218 17 54
2B García, PedroPedro García 77 227 45 .198 3 20
3B Rodríguez, AurelioAurelio Rodríguez 128 480 67 .240 8 50
SS Veryzer, TomTom Veryzer 97 354 83 .234 1 25
LF Johnson, AlexAlex Johnson 125 429 115 .268 6 45
CF LeFlore, RonRon LeFlore 135 544 172 .316 4 39
RF Staub, RustyRusty Staub 161 589 176 .299 15 96
DH Horton, WillieWillie Horton 114 401 105 .262 14 56

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Oglivie, BenBen Oglivie 115 305 87 .285 15 47
Meyer, DanDan Meyer 105 294 74 .252 2 16
Scrivener, ChuckChuck Scrivener 80 222 49 .221 2 16
Stanley, MickeyMickey Stanley 84 214 55 .257 4 29
Kimm, BruceBruce Kimm 63 152 40 .263 1 6
Wockenfuss, JohnJohn Wockenfuss 60 144 32 .222 3 10
Sutherland, GaryGary Sutherland 42 117 24 .205 0 6
Wagner, MarkMark Wagner 39 115 30 .261 0 12
Mankowski, PhilPhil Mankowski 24 85 23 .271 1 4
Lane, MarvinMarvin Lane 18 48 9 .188 0 5
Manuel, JerryJerry Manuel 54 43 6 .140 0 2
May, MiltMilt May 6 25 7 .280 0 1


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Player G IP W L ERA SO
Roberts, DaveDave Roberts 36 252 16 17 4.00 79
Ruhle, VernVern Ruhle 32 199.2 9 12 3.92 88
Fidrych, MarkMark Fidrych 31 250.1 19 9 2.34 97
Bare, RayRay Bare 30 134 7 8 4.63 59
Coleman, JoeJoe Coleman 12 66.2 2 5 4.86 38
McCormack, FrankFrank McCormack 9 32.2 0 5 5.79 14
Glynn, EdEd Glynn 5 23.2 1 3 6.08 17

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Player G IP W L ERA SO
Crawford, JimJim Crawford 32 109.3 1 8 4.53 68
Lemanczyk, DaveDave Lemanczyk 20 81.1 4 6 5.09 51

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts
Player G W L SV ERA SO
Hiller, JohnJohn Hiller 56 12 8 13 2.38 117
Grilli, SteveSteve Grilli 36 3 1 3 4.64 36
Laxton, BillBill Laxton 26 0 5 2 4.09 74

Awards and honors

  • Mark Fidrych, AL Rookie of the Year Award
  • Mark Fidrych, Finished 2nd in AL Cy Young Award voting
  • Mark Fidrych, Finished 11th in AL MVP Award voting

League top ten finishers

Mark Fidrych

  • MLB leader in ERA (2.34)
  • MLB leader in Adjusted ERA+ (158)
  • AL leader in complete games (24)
  • #3 in AL in walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) (1.079)
  • #4 in AL in wins (19)
  • #4 in AL in win percentage (.679)
  • #5 in AL in bases on balls per 9 inning pitched (1.91)
  • #5 in AL in shutouts (4)

John Hiller

  • #4 in AL in games finished (46)

Ron LeFlore

  • AL leader in errors by an outfielder (11)
  • #2 in AL in stolen bases (58)
  • #3 in MLB in times caught stealing (20)
  • #4 in AL in singles (137)
  • #5 in AL in batting average (.316)
  • #5 in AL in runs scored (93)
  • #6 in AL in strikeouts (111)

Dave Roberts

  • #2 in MLB in losses (17)
  • #2 in MLB in earned runs allowed (112)
  • #5 in AL in shutouts (4)
  • #9 in AL in complete games (18)

Aurelio Rodríguez

  • AL leader in fielding percentage by a third baseman (.978)
  • #3 in AL in times grounded into double plays (19)

Rusty Staub

  • AL leader in games played (161)
  • AL leader in times grounded into double plays (23)
  • #2 in AL in times on base (266)
  • #2 in AL in sacrifice flies (11)
  • #3 in AL in plate appearances (690)
  • #4 in AL in on-base percentage (.386)
  • #4 in AL in bases on balls (83)
  • #4 in AL in runs created (99)
  • #5 in AL in RBIs (96)
  • #5 in AL in intentional walks (11)
  • #7 in AL in times hit by pitch (7)
  • #7 in AL in hits (7)
  • #8 in AL in OPS (.818)
  • #10 in AL in total bases (255)

Players ranking among top 100 all time at position

The following members of the 1977 Detroit Tigers were ranked among the Top 100 of all time at their position by The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001:

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Evansville Triplets American Association Fred Hatfield
AA Montgomery Rebels Southern League Les Moss
A Lakeland Tigers Florida State League Jim Leyland
Rookie Bristol Tigers Appalachian League Joe Lewis

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Montgomery, Lakeland


  1. ^ Gene Michael page at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Jim Crawford page at Baseball Reference
  3. ^ Rusty Staub page at Baseball Reference
  4. ^ Tom Walker page at Baseball Reference
  5. ^ Mark Fidrych page at Baseball Reference
  6. ^ The Nolan Ryan Express | The Strikeout King |
  7. ^ Joe Coleman page at Baseball Reference
  8. ^ Jack Morris page on Baseball Reference


  • Johnson, Lloyd; Wolff, Miles, eds. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (2nd ed.). Durham, N.C.: Baseball America.  
  • 1976 Detroit Tigers Regular Season Statistics
  • 1976 Detroit Tigers Game by Game at

External links

  • 1976 Charlton's Baseball Chronology
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