Mickey Lolich

From BR Bullpen


Michael Stephen Lolich

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, 'See, there's a fat guy doing okay. Bring me another beer." - Lolich, an overweight gent, describing how TV-watching fans may view him.

1964 Topps

"Roly-poly" Mickey Lolich won over 200 major league games. He is perhaps best known for his performance in the 1968 World Series, in which he pitched three complete game victories, giving up only five runs - including the final and decisive game. He was given the World Series MVP Award for his performance.

Lolich was a natural right-hander, but a broken right arm in his youth caused him to learn to throw lefty, and he enjoyed a lengthy and highly successful major-league career as a result. He had a self-described "rubber arm" with a smooth, picturesque delivery. A vocal opponent of pitch counts, he never experienced arm problems while logging over 3,600 career innings, including an incredible 376 in 1971. Lolich and teammate Denny McLain gave the Tigers the best pitching duo in baseball for several years running during the latter 1960s. Lolich twice struck out 16 batters in a game for the Tigers, which was the franchise record until Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 on April 26, 2013.

Lolich played for the Detroit Tigers thirteen years. In that time he was a picture of consistency, winning 14 or more games for ten consecutive seasons including 25 in 1971 and 22 in 1972. Blessed with a better than average fastball, Lolich's pinpoint control was his greatest strength (he issued less than three walks per nine innings during his career). He lost 18 games in 1975, when the Tigers fell well back in the standings because of an aging roster. After the season, he was traded with Billy Baldwin to the New York Mets for Rusty Staub and Bill Laxton. Lolich was no longer a dominant starter for the Mets in 1976, but bounced back by going going 8-13 with a league-average ERA. He retired following the season and and opened a donut shop in Lapeer, MI near Detroit, MI.

Lolich was granted free agency in January 1978 and signed a contract with the San Diego Padres. He played with them as a reliever during the 1978 and 1979 seasons before retiring for good.

Lolich won 217 games in his career and also ranks third among left-handers in career strikeouts with 2,832, behind Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson. At the time of his retirement, he was the all-time southpaw strikeout leader. He made a total of 324 starts with Bill Freehan as his catcher, which is the highest total for a battery in major league history (Warren Spahn and Del Crandall come second with 316 starts). No other duo even reached 300 starts together until Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina made it with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021.

With his playing career over, Lolich continued to run his donut shop for several years, before selling the business and retiring to Oregon. He currently is active in charitable work and serves as a coach at the Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp in Lakeland, FL.


  • He hit exactly one home run in his career. It was in the World Series. Good timing.
  • In the 1970s the AL instituted a change to try to make the umpires enforce the balk rule. This change was the creation of "balk lines" on the mound. Any time a pitcher stepped outside of those lines, it was an automatic balk. Umpires hated it and loathed to call it, and the league scrapped it. The official reason was that the lines discriminated against pitchers who worked off the side of the rubber. Mickey Lolich was the only pitcher in baseball who fit that description.
  • His cousin was Ron Lolich.
  • He was an avid ATVer.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (1969, 1971 & 1972)
  • 1968 World Series MVP
  • AL Wins Leader (1971)
  • AL Innings Pitched Leader (1971)
  • AL Strikeouts Leader (1971)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (1971)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (1967)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 8 (1964, 1965, 1968, 1969 & 1971-1974)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (1971 & 1972)
  • 25 Wins Seasons: 1 (1971)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 12 (1964-1975)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1971-1974)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 7 (1965 & 1969-1974)
  • 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1971)
  • Won a World Series with the Detroit Tigers in 1968

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mickey Lolich and Tom Gage: Joy in Tigertown: A Determined Team, a Resilient City, and Our Magical Run to the 1968 World Series, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2018. ISBN 978-1-6293-7583-0

Related Sites[edit]