1976 Detroit Tigers season

1976 Detroit Tigers
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) John Fetzer
General manager(s) Jim Campbell
Manager(s) Ralph Houk
Local television WWJ-TV
(George Kell, Larry Osterman, Don Kremer, 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.


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 Royals, 21–7. Four Detroit pitchers (Dave Lemanczyk, Bill Laxton, Ray Bare, and Steve Grilli) combined to allow 24 hits and 20 earned runs. George Brett went 4-for-5 and 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 the Frank Tanana and the California Angels. 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 Pct. GB Home Road
New York Yankees 9762 0.610 45–35 52–27
Baltimore Orioles 8874 0.543 10½ 42–39 46–35
Boston Red Sox 8379 0.512 15½ 46–35 37–44
Cleveland Indians 8178 0.509 16 44–35 37–43
Detroit Tigers 7487 0.460 24 36–44 38–43
Milwaukee Brewers 6695 0.410 32 36–45 30–50

Record vs. opponents

1976 American League Records

Baltimore 7–118–48–47–1112–66–611–74–813–54–88–4
Boston 11–77–56–69–914–43–912–67–57–114–83–9
California 4–85–711–77–56–68–104–88–105–76–1212–6
Chicago 4–86–67–113–96–68–107–57–111–118–97–11
Cleveland 11–79–95–79–36–126–611–69–34–124–87–5
Detroit 6–124–146–66–612–64–812–64–89–86–65–7
Kansas City 6–69–310–810–86–68–48–410–87–59–97–11
Milwaukee 7–116–128–45–76–116–124–84–85–135–710–2
Minnesota 8–45–710–811–73–98–48–108–42–1011–711–7
New York 5–1311–77–511–112–48–95–713–510–26–69–3
Oakland 8–48–412–69–88–46–69–97–57–116–67–11
Texas 4–89–36–1211–75–77–511–72–107–113–911–7

Notable transactions


1976 Detroit Tigers
Pitchers Catchers



Designated hitters



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
CBill Freehan7123764.270527
1BJason Thompson12341290.2181754
2BPedro García7722745.198320
3BAurelio Rodríguez12848067.240850
SSTom Veryzer9735483.234125
LFAlex Johnson125429115.268645
CFRon LeFlore135544172.316439
RFRusty Staub161589176.2991596
DHWillie Horton114401105.2621456

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
Ben Oglivie11530587.2851547
Dan Meyer10529474.252216
Chuck Scrivener8022249.221216
Mickey Stanley8421455.257429
Bruce Kimm6315240.26316
John Wockenfuss6014432.222310
Gary Sutherland4211724.20506
Mark Wagner3911530.261012
Phil Mankowski248523.27114
Marvin Lane18489.18805
Jerry Manuel54436.14002
Milt May6257.28001


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
Dave Roberts3625216174.0079
Vern Ruhle32199.29123.9288
Mark Fidrych31250.11992.3497
Ray Bare30134784.6359
Joe Coleman1266.2254.8638
Frank McCormack932.2055.7914
Ed Glynn523.2136.0817

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
Jim Crawford32109.3184.5368
Dave Lemanczyk2081.1465.0951

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
John Hiller56128132.38117
Steve Grilli363134.6436
Bill Laxton260524.0974

Awards and honors

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 at Baseball Reference
  2. Jim Crawford at Baseball Reference
  3. Rusty Staub at Baseball Reference
  4. Tom Walker at Baseball Reference
  5. Mark Fidrych at Baseball Reference
  6. "The Nolan Ryan Express". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2008. Text " The Strikeout King " ignored (help); Text " smackbomb.com/nolanryan " ignored (help)
  7. Joe Coleman at Baseball Reference
  8. Jack Morris page on Baseball Reference


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