Dick McAuliffe

Richard John McAuliffe (November 29, 1939 – May 13, 2016) was an American professional baseball shortstop / second baseman, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Detroit Tigers (1960–73) and Boston Red Sox (1974–75).[1] He was a part of the Tigers' 1968 World Series championship, and was known for his unusual batting stance. A left-handed hitter, McAuliffe held his hands very high with an open stance that faced the pitcher. As the pitcher delivered to home plate, he moved his forward (right) foot to a more conventional position before swinging.[2]

Dick McAuliffe
McAuliffe with the Detroit Tigers in 1966
Second baseman / Shortstop
Born: (1939-11-29)November 29, 1939
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Died: May 13, 2016(2016-05-13) (aged 76)
Farmington, Connecticut, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 17, 1960, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 1, 1975, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.247
Home runs197
Runs batted in697
Career highlights and awards

Early years

Born in Hartford, Connecticut,[3] McAuliffe graduated from Farmington High School in Farmington, Connecticut, where he was coached by Leo Pinsky and won the state championship in 1957.[2] McAuliffe signed with the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent out of high school and spent three seasons in the Tigers' farm system.[4] In 1960, he led the Sally League in runs (109), triples (21), and shortstop assists (430) while playing for the Knoxville Smokies.[2] He was called up to the big leagues at the end of the 1960 season and made his major league debut on September 17, 1960.[5]

Detroit Tigers

In the 1961 and 1962 seasons, McAuliffe shifted between shortstop and second base before replacing Chico Fernandez as the Tigers starting shortstop from 19631966. Known for his wide-open batting stance and leg kick, McAuliffe never hit higher than .274 but was a significant contributor to the Tigers' offensive output in the 1960s. In 1964, he hit a career-high 24 home runs, the most by any Tiger that season. In 1965, he was the American League's starting shortstop in the All Star game, and he went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs batted in.[6] In 1966, he finished the season ranked fourth in the league with a .373 on-base percentage and fifth in the league with a .509 slugging percentage.[7]

After making the American League All Star team in 1965 and 1966 at shortstop,[8] McAuliffe agreed to move to second base in 1967 to make room for Ray Oyler to take over at shortstop. Even with the move, McAuliffe was selected for his third consecutive All Star team in 1967.[9] The 1967 season was memorable for the tight four-way pennant race between the Tigers, the Boston Red Sox, the Minnesota Twins, and the Chicago White Sox, with all four teams still in contention entering the final week of the season.[10] The Tigers needed to win the final game of the season against the California Angels, to force a one-game playoff with the Red Sox for the American League championship however, the Tigers lost the game to finish the season one game behind the Red Sox. Along with Al Kaline and Bill Freehan, McAuliffe played an integral role for the Tigers during the 1967 season, finishing among the American League leaders in walks with 105 (3rd), 245 times on base (3rd), 7 triples (3rd), 92 runs (5th), 118 strikeouts (5th), 22 home runs (8th), and a .364 on-base percentage (9th).[11]

In the Tigers' 1968 World Championship season, McAuliffe played a key role.[12] He had a .344 on-base percentage, led the American League with 95 runs scored, and showed power with 50 extra base hits.[3][13] He also tied a major league record by going the entire 1968 season without grounding into a double play and is the only American League player who has done so.[14] McAuliffe also improved defensively in 1968, reducing his error total from 28 in 1967 to nine in 1968 and, finished second among American League second basemen in fielding percentage.[2][15] He finished seventh in the 1968 American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, behind teammates Denny McLain (1st), Bill Freehan (2nd), and Willie Horton (4th).[16]

On August 22, 1968, McAuliffe was involved in a brawl with Chicago White Sox pitcher Tommy John.[2][17] After one pitch barely missed McAuliffe's head, and another was thrown behind him, McAuliffe charged the mound, drove his knee into John's shoulder and separated it.[2] John was out for the season, and McAuliffe was suspended for five games.[2] Interviewed 30 years later, McAuliffe was still convinced John was throwing at his head: "The first pitch at me was right at my head, and I mean right at my head. The catcher never laid any leather on it, and it hit the backstop. The next pitch, he spun me down, threw it behind me."[2] White Sox' general manager Ed Short took a different view, pointing out the pitch before the fight came on a 3-2 count, resulting in a runner reaching base.[18]

In the 1968 World Series, McAuliffe played all seven games at second base, and had 5 runs scored, and 6 hits, 4 walks, 3 runs batted in, and one home run.[19] His steadying influence in the middle infield helped make it possible for manager Mayo Smith to take the radical step of playing center fielder Mickey Stanley at shortstop in the World Series in order to get a better bat in the lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals, led by Bob Gibson.[20][21]

Boston Red Sox

McAuliffe in 1974

McAuliffe continued as the Tigers' starting second baseman through the 1973 season. He was traded from the Tigers to the Boston Red Sox for Ben Oglivie on October 23, 1973.[22] McAuliffe hit .210 in 100 games for the Red Sox in 1974.[3] He began 1975 as the manager of Boston's Double-A farm team, the Bristol Red Sox, located in McAuliffe's native state of Connecticut.[23] He guided Bristol into first place in the Eastern League, but was recalled to Boston in August to resume his playing career as a utility infielder. However, McAuliffe was released after playing seven more games. His career ended on September 1, 1975, in a Yankees-Red Sox game. McAuliffe dropped an easy popup for an error.[2] Later in the inning, McAuliffe's throw pulled Carl Yastrzemski off the bag.[2] Though it was scored a single, the Boston fans booed McAuliffe. He was left off Boston's post-season roster, and his major league career was over.[2]

Career statistics

16 1763 7161 6185 888 1530 231 71 197 696 63 882 974 .247 .343 .403 .966

McAuliffe was among the American League leaders in triples eight times, and his ability to draw walks also increased his offensive output, ending his career with a .343 on-base percentage.[3] Bill James ranked McAuliffe 22nd all-time among second baseman in his Historical Baseball Abstract.[2][24]

Post baseball career

After retiring from baseball, McAuliffe owned a business that repaired and installed coin-operated washers and dryers for ten years, and also ran baseball schools.[2] McAuliffe also played professional softball for the New England Pilgrims of the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (APSPL) in their 1979 seson.[25]


After a battle with Alzheimer's disease, McAuliffe died on May 13, 2016, at the age of 76, after suffering a stroke.[26]

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball annual runs scored leaders


  1. "Dick McAuliffe Stats". baseball-almanac.com. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  2. Cizik, John (May 17, 2016). "Dick McAuliffe | SABR Baseball BioProject". SABR.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  3. "Dick McAuliffe". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  4. "Dick McAuliffe Trades and Transactions". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  5. "Chicago White Sox 8, Detroit Tigers 4". Baseball-Reference.com. September 17, 1960.
  6. "1965 All-Star Game". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  7. "1966 American League Batting Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  8. "1966 All-Star Game". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  9. "1967 All-Star Game". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  10. "The 1967 AL Pennant Race: The 30315229-to-1 Possibility". sabr.org. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  11. "1967 American League Batting Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  12. Falls, Joe (October 1968). McAuliffe, Despite '67 Nightmare, Is Dream Player Now. Baseball Digest. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  13. "1968 American League Batting Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  14. Baseball Digest (May 1977). Letters to the Editor. Baseball Digest. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  15. "1968 American League Fielding Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  16. "1968 American League Most Valuable Player Award". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  17. "August 22, 1968 White Sox-Tigers box score". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  18. "McAuliffe Suspended, John Hurt, Regan Snickering". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. August 24, 1968. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  19. "1968 World Series". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  20. Markusen, Bruce. "Mayo's big gamble: The Mickey Stanley Experiment". Detroit Athletic Company. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  21. Whitt, Alan (2001). They Earned Their Stripes: The Detroit Tigers' All-Time Team. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 160. ISBN 9781582613659. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  22. "Tigers Trade Dick McAuliffe". The Argus-Press. Associated Press. October 24, 1973. p. 16. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  23. "Dick McAuliffe Minor League Manager Record". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  24. James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 497. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  25. "Clipped From Hartford Courant". Hartford Courant. July 12, 1979. p. 64 via newspapers.com.
  26. Sipple, George (May 16, 2016). "Dick McAuliffe, from 1968 champion Detroit Tigers, dies at 76". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
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