Detroit Tiger first baseman Darrell Evans took his son Nick, four years old, into the thick of the locker room melee after the World Championship game. ''I want him to see as much of this as he can,'' Evans Sr. said. ''I want him to remember the feelings. I want him to see what the results of hard work can be.''
Hard work. That's funny ... in a town with a remarkably high percentage of single-family houses that for decades had symbolized the working-class dream of owning your own home, many of them empty now as the city's job base has shrunk. Odd, too, to think of a national pastime, or a World Series victory, still the highest team-play honor in American sports, as ''the results of hard work.'' For most factory workers, a lifetime in the shop offers no moment of glory, no chance to become hero or goat. A kid's graduation from college, maybe. A cottage up north. But mostly hard work, unremarked, as its own reward.
And yet Evans was right. The 1984 Detroit Tigers earned their triumph this year - from their 35-and-5 start to their 7-and-1 postseason record. Talk about good management-worker relations. When so much is heard about uncoachable superstars and overbearing owners, Detroit blended old-shoe wisdom and rawhide enthusiasm. Hall of Famer Al Kaline took under his wing Kirk Gibson, a young player with more talent than finesse, and coached him all spring in the fundamentals of fielding. Retiring pitching coach Roger Craig developed a similar close relationship with mound ace Dan Petry. New Tiger owner Tom Monaghan gave the championship trophy to former owner John Fetzer, who had built the team that won and a year ago helped Detroit Mayor Coleman Young keep the team in the old downtown stadium. And Tiger manager Sparky Anderson, who became the first manager to win the Series with a team in each league, did it in Detroit with an appreciation of his players equaled only by his knowledge of the game.
Baseball is a sport untransformed by technology - 18 men, a baseball, bat, some gloves, a playing field of limited size. As the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres played it, it reaches the heights of honest labor's honor.