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RIP, Jim Northrup

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Smasher_Sloan, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    One of the heroes of the Tigers' 1968 WS team:


  2. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    Another part of my childhood gone...

    I was too young to remember the '68 series, but I do remember the '72 AL East title team that lost to Oakland in the playoffs. The '68 over-the-hill gang was the core of that team, with a few exceptions. Man, I looked up to those guys, including Northrup.

    Yeah, I know he was 71 (a year younger than my dad), but those guys just don't seem old enough to be dying. Damn...
  3. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    Northrup was an outstanding color guy on TV, too much for his own good. He pointed out flaws in both game and hustle, which the Tigers brass didn't always like. But he was always fun to listen to.
  4. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    he was a very solid player. rip to yet another name from my childhood who is now gone.... :'(
  5. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    One of the most underrated stories of that '68 WS team was Mayo Smith moving Mickey Stanley from CF to SS in order to get Horton, Northrup and Kaline in the starting OF lineup. Stanley replaced the light-hitting Ray Oyler.
    Would anyone in this day and age make such a drastic lineup move? Gutsy. Even if it did wind up costing by beloved Cardinals back-to-back titles (damn it Brock, why didn't you slide on that play at the plate?)
  6. maumann

    maumann Member

    With respects to SockPuppet, Oct. 10, 1968 is the seminal moment of my childhood.

    There are those rare moments in life when the heavens align and you experience pure emotional bliss. The instant when I realized Curt Flood was not going to catch up to Jim Northrup's line drive was the first, and perhaps, greatest of those experiences for me.

    The 1968 World Series really gets short shrift in the history books, sandwiched between the Impossible Dream Red Sox of '67 and the Miracle Mets of '69. But it's been 43 years now and I can remember things as if they happened yesterday.

    The Cardinals were overwhelming the Tigers in every aspect of the game. Bob Gibson made them look foolish in Game 1, and Lou Brock and Curt Flood were stealing bases like crazy. Denny McLain looked nothing like the pitcher who had won 31 games and the Tigers were on the verge of being swept at home.

    But in Game 5, Brock didn't slide, Horton made an incredible throw, Freehan blocked the plate and somehow Detroit managed to win twice to even the series heading into Game 7 -- against THE best pitcher on the planet ... with his 1.12 ERA ... in his home ballpark.

    Mickey Lolich had pitched his guts out twice to keep the Tigers in the Series, but even as a 10-year-old, I knew their chances were miniscule. The Tigers couldn't solve Gibson and it would only be a matter of time before St. Louis scored. I resigned myself to that when I left for school that morning. So did my mom, who cautioned me not to be too disappointed if the expected happened.

    I'm a third-generation Detroiter but left at the age of 2, so my infatuation with the Tigers has always been from afar. I was taken to Tiger Stadium for the first time while visiting the grandparents in 1965, a game in which the Tigers won and hooked me for life.

    But the 1967 riots changed everything.

    We went back to Detroit in the summer of 1968, but instead of outings to Boblo Island, Belle Isle, the Detroit Zoo and the Stroh's brewery, we went to see what was gone.

    We drove down Grand River past the burned-out buildings where the riots had taken place the year before (and no more than a block from the house that my grandfather built and in which my mother had lived until 1957). It remains the only time I've seen my mother cry.

    The entire week reeked of an uneasiness, a dangerous fearfulness, even noticeable for a kid who didn't really understand what was happening. My grandparents realized they no longer felt safe in the city they had lived for more than 50 years.

    So for me, and perhaps echoed more strongly by the people in southeastern Michigan, a World Series victory might bring a little normalcy to a place where nothing would be normal again.

    We had just relocated from California to Boca Raton, Fla., three weeks before and wound up in a rental house filled with moving boxes. I was the new kid in Mrs. Hugle's fifth-grade class at Addison Mizner Elementary and apparently the only Tiger fan in the school. Mrs. Hugle was a nice teacher, but she had no interest in baseball -- so any radio or TV was out -- leaving me to fidget all day while watching the clock and hoping the game would still be on when I got home.

    The bell rang and I sprinted all the way home, just to turn on the TV and see the last out of the bottom of the sixth in a scoreless game. (I had just missed Brock and Flood being picked off first that inning.) Somehow Mickey Lolich was matching the great Bob Gibson pitch-for-pitch. And there was still hope.

    When Northrup's ball landed on the grass, scoring Norm Cash and Willie Horton, I galloped around the house, screaming and nearly crashed into the sliding glass door in my excitement. When Freehan caught the foul popup to end it, my mother allowed me to call long distance to Detroit and share the moment with my grandfather, who saw Ty Cobb play.

    My grandfather died in April of 1976, a week before the start of the season. Grandma died a year later. And I've grown to realize that ballplayers aren't really heroes. They are men who are really good at playing a kid's game. But it's nice to know where was a time when I thought so.

    Thank you, Jim Northrup. Rest in peace.
  7. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    If I could "like" that post, I would.
  8. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    Second that emotion. Excellent post Maumann. Memories of our childhood - particularly when those memories are of The Great GAme - are sacred.
  9. SpeedTchr

    SpeedTchr Well-Known Member

    Amen to that, maumann. When I liked baseball (as a kid), I loved the Tigers. I started a Mickey Stanley fan club. Pretty odd for a kid living almost 1500 miles from Detroit. I miss those days, and Northrup's passing is just one more signal of time passing ever more quickly.
  10. Watch this at 2:35 in. Maumann (great post), you should enjoy this clip and the other two that are linked to it.

  11. SpeedTchr

    SpeedTchr Well-Known Member

    Great video pull, Corky. Love the Pat Dobson bit where he is choking and holds up a cigarette. Try that today!
  12. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    Awesome post, Maumann. Your mom letting you call your grandpa long distance is just perfect.

    Thanks for sharing.

    RIP, Mr. Northrup (I, too, remember '71, but not '68...I was 4 in '68).
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