Thursday, October 19, 2006

When The Tigers Socked It To 'Em

It was one of those rare moments in life when, as it was happening, I was thinking to myself - "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life!" And I have.

It was Wednesday October 9, 1968. That afternoon the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals were squaring off in game 6 of the World Series. St. Louis held a 3 to 2 edge in the best of 7 series. I was attending classes as a 9th grader at Forsythe Junior High, and it was torture having to be in school instead of watching or listening to the game. Luckily my last class of the day was gym and the coaches had a radio in their office tuned to the game. Before we headed out to the athletic field they told us that the Tigers held a 2-0 lead after 2 innings.

When we went outside, standing next to the locker room door were a couple of our buddies holding a transistor radio listening to the game. Coach asked them what class they were supposed to be in, and they said that they had study hall that hour. Since our coach was just as interested in the game as we were, he let them "skip" study hall so that they could continue to listen to the game ... and provide us with updates.

Toward the end of class we were told that Detroit had scored 2 more runs to take a 4-0 lead. Then as we took a final lap around the football field and were walking across the tennis courts toward the building, it happened. Our pals with the transistor radio started jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs.

"WHAT HAPPENED???!!!," we called out. "NORTHRUP HIT A GRAND SLAM!!!!!!! THE TIGERS ARE UP 8 TO NOTHING!!!!!!!" Pandemonium.

Can you picture thirty 14 year old boys racing toward the school, whooping and hollering and jumping for joy? That was us! But that was just the beginning of the celebration. Once we got in the locker room, the noise was deafening. Everybody yelling, clapping, pounding on the lockers. "SOCK IT TO 'EM TIGERS!!!" Jim Northrup's timing couldn't have been better. It's a moment I've played over and over in my mind all of these years, and undoubtedly my favorite memory of my 13 years as an Ann Arbor public school student. And now with the Tigers and Cardinals set to battle once more in the fall classic, it's all coming back again.

Oh, and the coach that let those guys skip class so they could listen to the game? It was Andy Anderson.


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