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:
We are saddened to announce that Dave Bergman has passed away. pic.twitter.com/EmdacgsRjV
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) February 2, 2015
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.”