Tigers react to Dave Bergman’s passing

Former Tigers first baseman Dave Bergman passed away Monday following a nearly three-year battle with cancer. Many of his former teammates knew about his situation, but it didn’t make the news any easier to take.

“He made it a lot longer than people thought,” Alan Trammell said. “He battled his butt off. He stayed strong for longer than most. That’s just the kind of person he was. He was always upbeat, talking to him through the stages.”

Trammell had kept in touch with him at least once a month, by his estimation. When Trammell came back to Michigan for the Tigers winter caravan and TigerFest, he visited Bergman at his home. He was one of the last teammates to see him.

“You could see that the cancer, like it does with most people, it ages you,” Trammell said. “But he was still so upbeat. He was always very responsive, still very sharp.”

Jack Morris said he and other former teammates called him from fantasy camp last week to let him know they were thinking of him. Bergman, he said, was talking about his work on the board of the Joe Niekro Foundation, which works to support patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.

“You knew that he was fighting his best,” said Morris, who saw him last summer.

Said Tom Brookens: “Everybody always was praying for a miracle and for the best. Right now, he’s in a better place than he was here.”

The former teammates talked about Bergman as one of the unsung heroes of the 1984 World Series champions. Just as much, if not more, they talked about Bergman as a better teammate and a great friend.

“Just as a super person,” Trammell said. “When you say better off the field than on, that for me would be for Dave Bergman. He’s a guy who was never the star, but always was one of the main guys on our ballclub as far as team chemistry and a guy you could lean on.”

Said Morris: “I think all of us consider him one of our best teammates. Bergman was a guy who knew his role. He was a competitor, and just a good person, too.”

Part of the latter was his personality.

“He could laugh at himself,” Morris continued. “Therefore, it was easy when he was joking with you, you knew that he could take it too.”

Said Brookens: “He loved to talk baseball, and talk to anyone about the game. That’s always a big help to anybody on the team. His character and makeup, he always had good information. He was always a guy who studied a lot of things. He would actually study the game and pitchers, and he carried that into his business life after his playing days.

“He just had one of those personalities that he always had time for you. Bergie’s the kind of guy, if you needed something, he was there.”

The Tigers had similar sentiments in a statement the team issued on Bergman’s passing:

And then there’s the at-bat: 13 pitches against Toronto’s Roy Lee Jackson with two on in the 10th inning on June 4, 1984, culminating in a walkoff three-run homer.

“That was a classic at-bat,” Trammell said. “We went wire to wire, but there was a time they made a little move on us. That was huge. That was a big part of our season that I know a lot of people will remember, and I know he still remembered it very fondly.”

Said Brookens: “That’s one of them that come along once in a career, I guess. I think that just shows you the kind of battler he was. He refused to give in and give up.”

7 Comments

He hit a 3 run homer to break a 10th inning tie against Toronto in Sept. as well.

I was at the Tigers game in Baltimore when he got Alan Wiggins out with the hidden ball trick. Bergie told me later that it was second time he had gotten Wiggins, the other being when they were both in the National League. At Tigers Fantasy Camp, Bergman was the most devoted of all the former players, arriving extra early in the batting cages every morning for any of us campers who wanted help with their swing. We’ll miss you coach.

Dave Bergman,you will be missed. R.I.P.

remember Bergman as an excellent defender at 1b and quality AB off the bench. just a fine complimentary part of that great team.

I’ve related here a number of times about being in attendance at the 13-pitch AB game so I’ll offer another memory. In the 7th inning of Jack Morris’s no-hitter, Sparky replaced Barbaro Garbey at 1stbase with Bergman. Not only did that provide a boost of confidence to nervous viewers (and probably Jack himself), but suddenly White Sox hitters began peppering grounders to 1stbase, all of which Bergie swept up like a vacuum cleaner. Some tricky hops too.

Prayers to his friends and family. That ’84 team was the greatest.

Had the opportunity to coach against him in the 1995-1996 MABF Connie Mack League. He was a great coach and you could see he was there for his players and all the young men who played against him. He will be missed.

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