Tigers in '67: a season put on hold

Posted: Jul 21 2017 03:47PM EDT

Updated: Jul 22 2017 10:43PM EDT

In the all chaos in Detroit, the Tigers were in the middle of a pennant race. They would end up second in the American League and miss the World Series - but two Tigers made their presence known in the riots.

On July 23, Tigers great Willie Horton said the team was told to go home. From old Tigers Stadium, the smoke was visible and Horton said he knew he had to act.

"At the game they told us we had to go home for our security purposes. You see all the black smoke. They said there was a riot burning on 12th. 12th?! I went into the clubhouse and the only thing on my mind was putting my clothes in my duffel bag and next thing I know I was out there in the middle of the riot on 12th and Clairmount trying to talk to the people to bring peace," he said.

He was still wearing his uniform.

The team had just finished a doubleheader against the Yankees and Horton said he needed to go help. He wasn't alone.

"One of my team mates, Mickey Lolich - he was in the reserve - he was down there a couple of days later. Because we went to Baltimore and he had to stay here because he was in the reserves," 

Lolich was supposed to pitch a few days later but he had a duty to serve his country and the city.  While the team traveled to Baltimore and then Chicago, Lolich stayed in Detroit.

Here's what he told our reporter about the need to stay in Detroit. WATCH it in the video above.

"Well, I got the word Tuesday about noon. I had my suitcase on the bus, I was ready to leave for Baltimore, and they informed me they were looking for Wayne Redman. In return called out at the base and they said yes I was supposed to report. So, I took my suitcase off the bus, I waved to Mayo and started heading out the parking lot and he said who's going to pitch in Chicago? I said I don't know you'll have find somebody else - I won't be around for a while,"

He said that he hoped the team would do well without him but said that he needed the team as much as they needed him.

"I sort of feel lost not being with them right now. I spent some time in the service during summer camp and I've been spending more time in a green uniform than I have a white one lately."

In the end, Lolich missed 15 games in the '67 season.

Lolich and Horton's contributions to help the city and stabilize tensions are not forgotten by the city or Tigers fans.

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