Our motto was never give up
Hot Corner: Former All-Star Don Wert visits Cooperstown
A week after the 86th annual All-Star Game took place in Cincinnati, the National Baseball Hall of Fame hosted an All-Star of its own.
Don Wert – a member of the 1968 American League All-Star team – took a tour of The Hall on Wednesday.
Wert played nine season in the majors, eight of them coming with the Detroit Tigers. One of his most memorable years came in ‘68 when he hit 12 home runs en route to being named an All-Star.
The Midsummer Classic ranks highly among the memories of Wert’s career.
“We played it at the Houston Astrodome, I played the second half of the game and hit a double off Tom Seaver,” Wert said.
The Tigers were a force that year, led by AL Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player Denny McLain. He would finish the season with a league-best and career-high 31 wins and a 1.96 earned-run average.
Detroit finished the season with 103 wins, en route to the AL pennant. This set up the moment they had longed for the year before, as they would go on to win the 1968 World Series.
“We should’ve won in ’67 too,” Wert said.
Tied on the last day of the 1967 season with the Red Sox, the Tigers split their doubleheader with the Angels, while the Red Sox swept the Twins – securing the pennant and completing the Impossible Dream season for Boston.
The Tigers would more than make up for it the following year.
In the 1968 World Series, the Tigers faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals. After falling behind 3-games-to-1, Detroit rallied to win the final three games, defeating the Cardinals in seven games to win the Fall Classic.
Wert drove in the final Detroit run in the Series-clinching victory with a single to center off future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.
“Our motto was never give up,” Wert said.
Tigers’ left-hander Mickey Lolich was named the World Series MVP. He tossed three complete games in his three starts, including the Game 7 victory against Gibson.
Wert would play until 1971. His career highlights include his the ’68 campaign and receiving AL MVP votes for the 1965 season.
During the ’65 season, Wert would start every game at third base for the Tigers and lead the league in fielding percentage.
On the third floor of the Museum, the Werts found a photo of Don from the World Series.
“There’s me 50 years ago,” Wert laughed.
Reminiscing of the past, suddenly Wert was a champion once again.
Ryan Turnquist is the 2015 public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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