Instant replay would have changed the outcome of the 1934 World Series. The Detroit Tigers held a three-games-to-two lead on the St. Louis Cardinals entering Game 6. The two teams split the first two games at Detroit’s Navin Field before the Tigers captured two-of-three at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. The Cardinals led 3-2 in sixth inning of the pivotal sixth game. With two on and a run in, the Tigers threatened to tie or take the lead. However, umpire Brick Evans mistakenly called Mickey Cochrane out at third. Detroit scored another run to tie, but Evans error cost Detroit at least one run and the game.
In 1934, The Tigers won their first American League pennant in 25 years. On the other hand, the Cardinals were appearing in their fifth World Series in nine seasons. In fact, St. Louis won the Fall Classic in seven hard fought games just three years earlier. The “Gashouse Gang” looked for a restoration while the Tigers hoped for salvation. Indeed, the young Tigers appeared overwhelmed in Game One and lost 8-3. They rallied for a dramatic 12 inning 3-2 victory the next day. After the Cards won Game Three behind Paul “Daffy” Dean, the Tigers clubbed them 10-4. Dizzy Dean expected to give his team a 3-2 series lead, but fell to Tiger ace Tommy Bridges in Game 5.
The Tigers looked to Schoolboy Rowe to close out the Gashouse Gang. The sophomore hurler was the American League’s second best pitcher in 1934 with a 24-8 record and record 16 consecutive wins. Only Lefty Gomez out-pitched the 24-year-old Tiger star. The Cardinals pinned their hopes on Game Three victor and 19 game winner Daffy Dean. The Cards struck first with Joe Medwick’s first inning run scoring single. Afterward, Rowe settled down and the Tigers tied the game in the third with Mickey Cochrane’s RBI hit.
The game remained tied until the fifth. Leo Durocher led off for the red birds with a single, pitcher Dean sacrificed the runner to second, Pepper Martin laced a single to left, and advanced to third on Goslin’s errant throw home. The error proved costly when Jack Rothrock scored Martin on a grounder to short. The Tigers fell meekly in the bottom half of the frame and St. Louis nursed the 3-1 lead.
The Tigers got off the mat in the bottom of the sixth to rally. Jo-Jo White worked a walk and Cochrane singled him to third. With runners on the corners, Charlie Gehringer grounded to first, but Ripper Collins booted the chance. White scored, Cochrane moved to second, and Gehringer stood safe at first. The Cards held a 3-2 lead with Hall of Famer Goslin approaching the plate. Goslin bunted to advance the runners, but catcher Bill DeLancey pounced on the ball, fired to third, and nailed Cochrane. However, the Tiger player-manager argued that he beat the throw. Umpire Brick Owens disagreed and Cochrane returned to the dugout. Footage clearly showed Cochrane correct. He was safe, but Owens muffed the call. Today, a review would overturn such an egregious error. In 1934, there was nothing Cochrane could do but fume.
Owens blown call cost the Tigers at least one run and possibly more. Billy Rogell followed Goslin’s ground out with a long fly ball advancing Gehringer to third. Had Owens made the correct call, this would have tied the game at three. Greenberg followed with a solid single to left to score Gehringer and tie the game. The game should have been 4-3 Tigers instead of a tie. St. Louis added a run on Dean’s seventh inning single. He made the run hold up and the Cards escaped Game Six with a 4-3 victory.
Although St. Louis scored the fourth run, many at the time believed Owens’ blunder cost Detroit the game. In particular, other American League owners openly complained about the call. Some tried to cheer Tiger owner Frank Navin by reminding him that an additional game meant additional money. Navin had none of it. He wanted a title and said he would pay three times the gate from Game 7 if the Tigers could have won that day.
The blown call changed the complexion of the series. Most likely, a more confident Tiger team holds on to the lead instead of squandering the tie. The experienced Cardinals and the blown call rattled the young Tigers. They fell in Game 7 by a score of 11-0 behind Dizzy Dean. Despite this, Detroit was the better club as evidenced by their 1935 World Series victory.