Former Detroit Tigers outfielder Jim Northrup, who hit a decisive two-run triple in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series, died Wednesday. He was 71.
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Longtime friend Bill Wischman said Northrup after having a seizure at an assisted living facility in Grand Blanc. Wischman says Northrup had been in poor health for some time and had been at the home for about a month because of Alzheimer’s disease.
Northrup spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues.
His seventh-inning triple off the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson in the final game of the 1968 series broke open a scoreless game and scored Norm Cash and Willie Horton. Detroit went on to win 4-1.
He also played for Montreal and Baltimore and later worked as a sportscaster with the Pass Sports network, in the 1980s and ’90s.
”He was an astute student of the game,” said Wischman, who hired Northrup for the network and became a close friend. ”He loved the game.”
Northrup was heavily involved with community and charity work, including an effort to help Polish orphans, Wischman said.
”He was completely unselfish with his time,” Wischman said.
Detroit pitching ace Denny McLain, also a longtime friend, was warming up in the bullpen when Northrup hit the decisive triple.
”Jimmy didn’t want to lose at anything,” McLain told the Detroit Free Press. ”He was even competitive at the postgame meal. He was the emotional backbone of our team that year. He’d get mad at you if he even saw you exchanging pleasantries with guys from the other team. Jimmy was a big reason why we were just a grind-it-out-type of team.”
Northrup was born in Breckenridge, Mich., and signed with the Tigers in 1960 as an amateur free agent. Detroit traded him to Montreal in 1974.
He made his major league debut in 1964. In 1,392 major league games, he hit 153 home runs, drove in 610 runs and batted .267.
In addition to having Alzheimer’s, Northrup also battled rheumatoid arthritis for many years, Wischman said.
”As ill as he was, he never complained,” the friend said.
Northrup is survived by his wife Patty; children Kamil, Azaria, Jim, Paige and Kate; and seven grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Wednesday night.