Detroit Tigers fans, of which I am one, are mourning the loss of 1968 World Series hero/outfielder Jim Northrup, who died Wednesday at the age of 71, following a long battle with arthritis and Alzheimer's.The man called "The Gray Fox" by his teammates was a mainstay for the 1968 Tigers, hitting 21 HRs and driving in 90 runs; his play forced manager Mayo Smith to make a radical lineup change. Smith moved Northrup to CF, keeping veteran Al Kaline in the lineup and placin CF Mickey Stanley at SS (where he had never played in the majors) in place of light-hitting Ray Oyler.
The result was a spectacular Word Series for Northrup, slamming two home runs, including a Game 6 grand slam (one of FOUR on the 1968 season, including slams in back-to-back at-bats). But it was his seventh-inning drive in Game 7, which sailed over the head of All-Star CF Curt Flood, resulting in a two-run triple, that produced the World Series winning runs - called the biggest hit in Tiger history.
He was a Michigan native (Breckenridge) who went to a small Michigan college (Alma) and playd for the home state team. He was elected to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and remained dear to the heart of EVERY genuine Tiger fan.
He was a childhood hero and part of the greatest sports team I EVER saw. Rest in peace, Foxy.