Mickey Cochrane—the Hall of Famer Who Reinstated the Tigers' Classic "D"
Sometimes a defining visual brand is achieved via a combination of 1) strong leadership and 2) good fortune. The Detroit Tigers' classic Old English "D" is one such example.
The Tigers' D has been a staple of the team's visual identity since 1904, when it was first featured on their road uniforms. The D morphed and sometimes disappeared entirely throughout the first decades of the twentieth century.
The 1930-33 clubs wore a script "Detroit," both at home and on the road. These four seasons represent the longest continual stretch that the franchise did not sport an Old English "D" in its history.
In 1934, Catcher Mickey Cochrane, later elected to the the Hall of Fame, was brought to Detroit to serve as player-manager. One of his first acts as boss was to reinstate the D to the Tigers' home uniforms. A January 11, 1934 Sporting News article on Cochrane's arrival in Detroit featured a headline that read "New Pilot Changes Uniforms."
This February 11 item from the Reading Eagle tells the story:
The 1934 Tigers won the American League pennant, their first in a quarter century. They lost the World Series to St. Louis, but won the whole thing the following season. Cochrane won the 1934 American League's Most Valuable Player award. His interest in the club's uniforms, combined with the success of that 1934 team, continues to be seen some 80 years later—the Tigers' Old English "D" has remained on the club's home jerseys ever since he brought it back (with the exception of one single season—1960.)