Authentic Thursday

 Elden Auker glove

Elden Auker aspired to be a medical doctor, but during the Depression he had no funds to attend medical school and needed to find a way to make a living.  He had been a star athlete at Kansas State University where he earned nine varsity letters, three each in baseball, football and basketball.  He was offered a professional football contract with the Chicago Bears but turned it down to pitch for the Detroit Tigers.  A right-handed pitcher, Auker was nicknamed “submarine” due to his underhanded pitching style, a technique he perfected while in the Tigers minor league system to compensate for a shoulder injury he sustained while playing college football.

Auker played ten seasons in the Majors, six of them with the Tigers (1933-1938).  While with Detroit, he pitched in two consecutive World Series, 1934 and 1935.  Auker was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the 1934 series, but was the losing pitcher in Game 7 when the St. Louis Cardinals emerged World Champions.  The next season Auker led the America League with a winning percentage of .720 and an 18-7 record.  In the 1935 Series against the Chicago Cubs, Auker started in Game 3, which Detroit eventually won in extra innings.  Auker was slated to pitch again in Game 7, but the Tigers only needed six games to win their first World Championship 4 -2.

In spite of living out-of-state, after his baseball career ended, Auker maintained his ties with the Tigers.  He was at the last game played at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 1999 where he spoke during the final ceremony.  He told the crowd, “Never forget us, for we live by those that carry on the Tiger tradition and who so proudly wear the olde English D.”

In 2006, Auker died at age 95.


1 Comment

Elden Auker has a wonderful memoir called “Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms: A Lifetime of Memories from Striking Out the Babe to Teeing It Up with the President” that I highly recommend for any Tiger fan or baseball fan.

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