I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#16 First Baseman Darrell Evans
Darrell Evans is important to the 1980’s Detroit Tigers for a couple of reasons. The front office at the time did not really believe in the free agent market, and the 1980’s teams were a core of guys drafted in the 1970’s and developed by the organization. The only really big free agent acquisition on those teams was Darrell Evans who signed with the team following the 1983 season. His addition along with the Spring Training acquisition of Dave Bergman allowed the team the flexibility to trade 3B Howard Johnson to the New York Mets for Pitcher Walt Terrell following the championship year of 1984. That was a big move to solidify the starting rotation, and the Tigers were fine at the infield corners with Evans, Bergman, and super utility guy Tom Brookens.
Evans best season in Detroit was arguably 1985 where he hit 40 home runs and drove in 94 runs. During the run to the 1987 Divisional title he hit 34 home runs and drove in 99 runs. He was a big bat in the middle of the Detroit order and a mainstay of the 1980’s teams that really should have won at least one more World Series title.
My fondest memory of Evans is him standing on the stairs of the Detroit dugout as Larry Herndon squeezed the final out of the 1984 World Series. Evans was one of the first players out of the dugout to celebrate the Tigers’ championship. More than that he was the big guy, the big left handed bat I trusted as a kid to play adequate defense and get a big hit now and again. He always seemed to be to be the big silent type…of course that was before the days of big time talk radio and the Internet.
Interesting fact Evans was drafted a total of six times in the 1960’s including once by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 1966 Amateur draft. He did not sign, which puts him on a very short list of Tiger draft picks to not sign with the team…another one is Ozzie Smith.
With all of that being said Evans is clearly not one of the Tigers’ 1980s players who have been shunned by the Baseball Hall of Fame. The real problem with this team, in terms of Hall enshrinement is they had a lot of very good pieces. Sure, we can argue they had a few legit superstars…but for the most part those teams were built with pieces like Darrell Evans.
It taught me how sports teams should be built. A lesson further underscored by the 1980’s Detroit Pistons and the 1990’s Detroit Red Wings…those teams seemed more pure than the free agent laden rosters of the Dave Dombroski era…granted we are talking about two completely different era’s of the sport we love but those 1980’s squads were special.