June 9, 2011 by staff
Jim Northrup, Jim Northrup was a Michigan native, who grew up to become a hero to millions of fans. Northrup Tigers, who tripled in the winning run in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series, died Wednesday at age 71 years. According to a family spokesman, Northrup died after a seizure after several years of deteriorating health and a recent move to an Alzheimer care center in Grand Blanc.
“The Grey Fox,” said Gates Brown 1968 his teammate today. “It was a good man. I tell you one thing that came to play. It was a low-ball hitter, very good. …
“One thing you can trust, that would put the bat on the ball in some kind of way. And 1968, which was his year. It was hard all year. He let her know he was there.”
Bill Freeh, the receiver of the Tigers 68, issued this statement: “It was a great friend of the family, was my roommate and a great competitor Tigers.”
Said Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline: “We knew it was failing, but still comes as a shock when you lose a good friend and an exceptional player, a big tiger.”
Northrup, who was born in Breckenridge, Michigan, grew up near St. Louis and attended Alma College, was famous in the tradition of the Tigers for his tendency to hit a grand slam. The belt stops on consecutive at-bats, June 24, 1968, against Cleveland Stadium. Five days later, he hit another against the White Sox at Tiger Stadium, becoming the first player to hit three slams in a week.
Northrup four of 21 homers in 1968 were Grand Slam tournaments. He also hit a shot in Game 6 of the World Series, the Tigers rallied from 3-1 in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Northrup’s most famous hit series, however, came in Game 7 against Bob Gibson, who had beaten the Tigers in Games 1 and 4. Gibson and Mickey Lolich were in a scoreless duel through six innings at Busch Stadium. Northrup, who hit a solo homer off Gibson in Game 4, he batted with two on and two outs in the seventh.
Northrup-three container on the head of center fielder Curt Standard Flood scored Cash and Willie Horton. Freeh Northrup doubled, and the Tigers won, 4-1.
Flood, a seven-time Gold Glover, misplayed Northrup hit, but he defended Northrup: “It was a little, but it was still 40 feet above his head … He never got a chance to catch.”
Northrup play all three-outfield positions, including center field in the Series 68. His hot bat prompted manager Mayo Smith to move center fielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop to replace weak hitting Ray Oyler. That allowed Kaline – limited to 102 games with a broken forearm – to play rightfield, Horton played right.
Dick Tracewski, a reserve infielder for 33 years of age in 68 to coach the Tigers after a long time, Northrup said he had “the greatest success ever obtained by the Detroit Tigers. He won the World Series us. ”
“It was big, tall and slim with a beautiful flowing swing, and looked real power,” said Tracewski. “It was a hell of a ballplayer, and it was a hell of a man. I loved Jim Northrup.”
Northrup signed with Detroit in 1960 and played for the Tigers in 1964-74, finishing his career with the Montreal Expos (74) and Baltimore Orioles (’74-75).
Northrup – nicknamed Gray Fox or Fox for his premature gray hair, was never an All-Star, but was dangerous in its heyday.
“I usually do not want to face him with the game on the line,” said Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers in the All-Star Game at Comerica Park in 2005. “It was pretty hard punch. Jim Northrup was a hard hitter.”
It was a run of 0.267 hits with 153 homers and 610 RBIs. He hit a career best .307 in 1973, reached a career-high 25 homers in 69 and had a career-high 90 RBIs in 68 (third in the AL).
“He was a bear of guy, and he was a player better than a lot of people give credit,” Kaline said in an interview in 2009. “In addition to what he could do as a left-handed hitter, had a good arm, and ran well.”
After retiring from baseball, signed with the Caesars Northrup of Detroit, a professional football team and played two seasons. Norm Cash Tigers partner also joined the Caesars, owned by Mike Ilitch, who now owns the Tigers.
Northrup had a successful career as a manufacturer’s representative and as speaker in 1985-1994 during the transmission of the Tigers in the old cable network GO. At times, his teammates were 68 media and teammates Jim Price Freeh and radio legend Ernie Harwell.
Tracewski said teammates had another nickname for Northrup, a trait that served him well in the air.
“We called him” Sweet Lips “because he had an opinion on everything,” said Tracewski. “We had a close-knit baseball team when Jim was there. We got together and went to dinner and go have some ccktails, and he had an opinion, and let you know what you thought about a few things.”
“But I always remember when it came to the baseball team and put on his uniform he was ready to play. I never saw him take a shortcut, not run a ball, not giving 100% at all times.”
Kaline said, “You knew that Jim was in just about any problem that was a good man never knew what was going out of his mouth…”
Bill Wischman, former CEO of PASA, hired Northrup, and became close and hunted, fished and skied together.
“Jim had a great knowledge of the game,” he said. “It was very clever.”
Wischman Northrup had been visiting once a week in Grand Blanc, and he intended to see him today.
“He was in a lot of pain with arthritis,” Wischman said, “but I never heard him whine or complain about it.
“He forgets things, but I’m 74 and I forget things, too. More than anything else was his physical disability.”
In 2000, Northrup was inducted into the Hall of Fame Sports Michigan.
His wife, Patty, their children Kamil, Azaria, Jim, Paige and Kate, and seven grandchildren survive him.
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