Marv Owen bled for the Tigers. The third baseman is infamous for his fight with Ducky Medwick in the 1934 World Series, but his career was much more than one incident. He played six seasons with the Tigers, won two pennants, and was part of the greatest hitting infield in history. On top of this, Owen played an outstanding third base. As a result, the combination of hitting, fielding, and grit make Marv Owen an All Time Tiger.
Detroit added third baseman Marv Owen to the big league team in 1931. Owen played in 105 games, but batted just .223 in his initial campaign. The Tigers shipped him to the minors for 1932 before recalling him for good. The infielder demonstrated marked improvement in 1933 batting .262 with 65 RBI in 138 games.
The improvement continued in 1934. That season, Owen enjoyed a breakout season with a .317 average, 96 RBI, and .837 OPS. He also led the league with 202 putouts. No Tiger third baseman has had as many putouts since. Owen finished ninth in the MVP voting that season and Detroit won the AL Pennant.
The 1934 Tiger infield was the greatest offensive force in history. No infield has ever produced like Hank Greenberg, Billy Rogel, Charlie Gehringer, and Owen. They tallied 769 hits (179 by Owen),and 462 RBI. The fiercesome foursome terrorized American League pitching through 1937 and two World Series.
Despite the regular season totals, Owen managed to bat just .069 in the 1934 series against the Cardinals. He finished 2-for 29 with five strikeouts. His frustration bubbled over in Game 7 with the Cardinals leading 7-0. Joe “Ducky” Medwick tripled in the sixth inning and knocked Owen over with a hard slide. Owen took offense and shoved the Cardinal star. Medwick fought back and the pair brawled on the field. In the end, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis pulled Medwick out of the game for his own protection after Tiger fans pelted the outfielder with anything they could throw. The Tigers would return to the World Series in 1935, but the Cardinals did not.
The Tigers won their second consecutive pennant in 1935. The team would not make consecutive playoff appearances again until 2011-12. Owen enjoyed a respectable campaign. He hit .263 with 71 RBI and his usual solid defense. Unfortunately, he struggled again in the postseason. In the Tigers seven game triumph over the Cubs, Owen managed one hit in 20 at bats for a .050 average. He set a record for consecutive plate appearances without a hit at 31.
The Tigers won the 1935 World Series and Owen did not allow his career .061 World Series average to bother his play in 1936. He hit .295 with 9 home runs, 105 RBI, and .750 OPS. Once again, Owen led the league in putouts (190) and double plays (28). However, the Tigers were doomed. Joe DiMaggio joined the Yankees and buried the American League for four consecutive seasons. Detroit did not win another pennant until 1940.
Detroit’s pennant fortunes vanished with DiMaggio’s emergence. In 1937, Owen led the league in fielding percentage and hit .281. Detroit traded him to Chicago in the off season. The third baseman played two seasons with the White Sox before finishing his career with the Red Sox in 1940. Owen hit .275 with a .706 OPS for his career. However, his numbers were slightly better with the Tigers. In six seasons, the third baseman hit .278 with 25 home runs, 421 RBI, .717 OPS, while leading the league in several fielding categories, winning two Pennants and a World Series, and getting into one memorable fight.